April 21st, 2011

me: art

National Poetry Month No. 3: Wisława Szymborska - Theatre Impressions

This one is dedicated to [personal profile] recessional.

Wisława Szymborska - Theatre Impressions (from Could Have, translated from the original Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh)

For me the tragedy's most important act is the sixth:
the raising of the dead from the stage's battlegrounds
the straightening of wigs and fancy gowns
removing knives from stricken breasts,
taking nooses from lifeless necks,
lining up among the living
to face the audience.

The bows, both solo and ensemble -
the pale hand on the wounded heart,
the curtseys of the hapless suicide,
the bobbing of the chopped-off head.

Collapse )


This poem captures the feeling I get when I'm on the brink of finishing the absorption of a new piece of creative work, whatever the medium. When I encounter a piece of music, a novel, a play, a film or a television show, I am completely engrossed in that world. I am not good at ironic detachment. My mental world becomes my physical one, and the point of release from that entwining disorients me.

When I was a child, I found that moment even more shocking as I experienced it frequently on a daily basis. My internal world was so real to me that I often couldn't determine if I'd spoken aloud or simply thought something, leading to confusing conversations with peers and adults. My dreams were so vivid that the recurring players in them seemed as real as my friends at early school.

I can decouple my internal and the external worlds with much greater facility now, but I struggled with it well into adulthood. I have to be cautious about the amount and type of media I consume, because experiencing them is just as immersive, and leaving them is just as startlingly moving, as this poem implies.

Collapse )