Vacations

state_line

Oz has been on vacation this summer, inspired by a bit of Walt Whitman.

“O highway I travel, do you say to me, Do not leave me? Do you say, Venture not—if you leave me you are lost? Do you say, I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?”

Once there was a man
who filmed his vacation
with his camera,
shooting this and shooting that
despite the fact his daughter said
Knock it Off!
dad, she said
you’re missing all the fun.

Through the eye of the lens
he thought
he saw it all until there
was nothing left to see,
but only then did he find
He missed it all.

Rivers, trees, canyon, hills, and skies
He kept them all neatly in a box
Until December.
Preserved
But not remembered
And then forgot and lost the box

state_line_cars

What do you say when asked?

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Leaving the Apartment, Holly and Paul

[Holly looks directly at Paul, head slightly cocked, chin up, arms back. ]

“What do you do, anyway?”

[Paul, hands in pockets, chest out, meets her gaze directly; his hesitating voice belies his confidence.]

”I’m a writer, (pause) I guess.”

“And you?”

“I am a very stylish girl.”

Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, as mismatched lovers Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961.

The school of hard rocks

 

beach_sit

Does it matter, she asked herself, does it matter that all this must cease to exist – the jagged rocks, the warm sand, the wide ocean and the blue sky, and even the birds that glide on the gentle breeze itself must go away when she dies. Or, is this why we have children?

This is not an original thought, she thought, and then she realized, we do not procreate with a purpose other than to find relief. To momentarily escape reality before reality again rears its ugly head. Oh, she realized, that it is only in the long years of child rearing that one signals one’s hope that life should go on and that others should ask this same question.

Then she had a strange thought that life is an endless series of steps. One starts and stops, like life itself. The distance from beginning to end being both insurmountable and unknowable.

A lesson from the school of hard rocks

Words

 

 

face_eyes-blur

Alone, a noun is just a word
That waits for a verb
Then, like a face
That’s hardly recognizable
It smiles, it laughs, it comes alive
Until you say,
“That’s what’s his name.”

The Rise of the Machines

“… you just can’t differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans,” said Isaac Asimov, I, Robot. Except, thank goodness, the fact that we can eat hamburgers; that alone, my friend, might be the only difference.

multi-mixer-3-poster

The Rise of the Machines

Robots are in the workplace, we just haven’t noticed.
Ray Kroc knew this when he pitched his multi-mixer to the MacDonald’s brothers in the 1950’s. Now, one multi-tasker bot from Momentum Machines can patty, flip, and serve 400 made-to-order burgers in an hour, and could soon replace an entire McDonalds crew.

Needed restaurant “generalist” to supervise the machine. No education required.

Kansas Spring

March 31, 2017

blossom-bird

It is spring again in Kansas.

March 31st, the course of the sun has run halfway through Aries, the sign of the ram. It is Kansas and so it is the South Wind, not the West that warms the earth. The farmers give thanks for the sometimes-gentle rain that falls from the heavens above, and curse instead when it hails.

The earth, which a few weeks ago, was brown and grey is now green and lush, and the morning’s silence is broken by the Robins’ song.

What follows is a modern translation of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Modern English, French, and original Middle English,

Modern English

English did not become modern until William Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible, a fact that will surprise many “modern” high school English students.

When April with its sweet showers
Hath pierced the drought of March to its root,
And bathed every vein in such liquor
By which virtue engenders the flower;

When the West Wind also with his sweet breath,
Has inspired In every woodland and field
The tender crops, and the young sun
Has half its course within the sign of Aries run,

And small fowls make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them in their hearts),
Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,

And pilgrims to seek strange shores,
To distant shrines, known in sundry lands;
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England to Canterbury wend their way,
The holy blessed martyr to seek
Who helped them when they were sick.

Language Barriers

When I was a little boy the joke was told,
Q: Why did Peter throw the butter out the window?
A: To see the butterfly.

It is a joke that works in English but not in French, since butterfly in French is papillon.

Language barriers are large but none so great as that observed by the Welsh and English cleric Matthew Henry, There are none so deaf and none so blind, as they who refuse to see and will not listen.

French

Quand avril avec ses douces douches
La sécheresse de mars à sa racine a percé ,
Et a baigné toutes les veines dans une telle liqueur
Par quoi la vertu engendre la fleur;

Quand le Vent de l’Ouest aussi avec son doux souffle,
A inspiré dans tous les bois et champs
Les plantes tendres et le jeune soleil
A couru la moitié du cours en Bélier,

Et les petites volailles chante la mélodie,
Qui dormir toute la nuit avec l’œil ouvert
(Donc la nature les pique dans leurs coeurs),
Ensuite, les gens souhaitaient faire des pèlerinages,

Et les pèlerins cherchent des rivages étranges,
Aux sanctuaires lointains, connus dans les terres diverses;
Et surtout depuis la fin de chaque cours
De l’Angleterre à Canterbury se promène,
Le saint béni martyr à chercher
Qui les a aidés quand ils étaient malades.

Middle English

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400) is the grand daddy of English literature. Thank God he wrote in the vernacular and not in Latin as had been the custom. English is the most polyglot of languages. Sprinkled throughout Chaucer’s English, one observes bits of French, German, and Latin.

If one looks at the words of Chaucer and then listens to the sound, much of the meaning will become clear.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

The “hooly blisful martir for to seke”.

Alas, it was St. Thomas Beckett, murdered by followers of the king, who was the “holy blissful martyr” the pilgrims sought to seek. His shrine in Canterbury stood until 1538, when, on orders from King Henry VIII, it and Beckett’s bones were destroyed, and Henry ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated.

Lost in Translation

Even the most literal of translations can be deceiving. Lovers, poets, and politicians know this for that is why words matter. This is a good thing for it means that Google Translate will forever require human intervention.

Life is a blur

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This is as political as I want to get. For me, I hate getting caught up in the moment. You forget where you were when you started, and where you are going to, and now you are wondering why you are here, nothing else matters.

Calvin and Hobbs are atop Lookout Mountain with a red wagon. Calvin says to Hobbs, “I call it ‘Lookout’ because that’s what you yell when we go down.”

Racing down the hill, Calvin says, “We are so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us, that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”

There are trees and rocks to the right and left of them. They pick up speed.

“Days go by and we hardly notice them. Life is a blur.”

Calvin then observes that sometimes it takes a calamity to notice where we are, like falling off a hill. We wake up and see our mistake, but it is too late.

wagon-red-3

Bill Watterson’s original Calvin and Hobbs cartoon.

Final thoughts

blue summer dreams
dragonflies in the sun
my page is empty

© Lize Bard writes a blog which I follow @ https://wandererhaiku.wordpress.com/

dragonfly-2

That is a sad parting thought for 2016. I would prefer:

dreams of golden summer days
iridescent dragonflies fluttering in the air
my notebook is empty
until I pick up my pen again

Of course, that is not strictly Haiku, and it is wordy. Haiku should be a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, evoking an emotional image of the natural world.

golden summer days
iridescent butterflies
my mind is empty

Matsuo Basho is the recognized Japanese master of the haiku and here is his poem to a frog jumping into an old pond:

古池
蛙飛び込む
水の音

Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)

Many are the English translations, so let me throw my hat into the ring:

In an ancient pond
A frog plunges in – kerplop
One hears water’s sound

Sometimes it is nice to be a frog sitting on the bank and a dragonfly comes by, gulp, that’s a snack, and you want to jump in the water so you don’t have to share.

 

 

Marieke

[Let us take break from the battlefields of World War I and the fields of Flanders.  Jacques Brel, who was Flemish, wrote this beautiful and haunting song, Marieke in Flemish and French. It is an old love story, a reminder that life without love is dark and desolate.]

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Bruges

 

“Marieke” is a diminutive of Maria, my sweet Maria. The name is considered uniquely Belgian, although it later became popular in Holland. I suspect it is old. My wife’s family is Frisian* and the earliest female ancestor to arrive in America in 1642 was named, Volkje Juriaens van Noorstrant. “Volkje” being a diminutive of falcon, as in little falcon.

There is a beauty in words and always a certain amount of confusion in translation.

“Zonder” is most often translated as without, but it can also be used as, out of. Perhaps Jacques meant it both ways. “Flamand” is certainly a play on words for the Flemish country and the French – flaming sky. “Vlaanderland,” reminds me of the German “Vaterland.”It is used in so personal as to be not translatable without losing the sense of the word.

Here’s my translation.

Ay Marieke, Marieke je t’aimais tant
Entre les tours de Bruges et Gand
Ay Marieke, Marieke il why a longtemps
Entre les tours de Bruges et Gand
Zonder liefde warme liefde
Waait de wind de stomme wind
Zonder liefde warme liefde
Weent de zee de grijze zeeZonder liefde warme liefde
Lijdt het licht het donk’re licht
En schuurt het zand over mijn land
Mijn platte land mijn VlaanderlandAy Marieke, Marieke le ciel flamand
Couleur des tours de Bruges et Gand
Ay Marieke, Marieke le ciel flamand
Pleure avec moi de Bruges à Gand

Zonder liefde warme liefde
Waait de wind see’est fini
Zonder liefde warme liefde
Weent de zee déjà fini

Zonder liefde warme liefde
Lijdt het licht tout est fini
En schuurt het zand over mijn land
Mijn platte land mijn Vlaanderland

Oh Marieke, Marieke, I loved you so
Between the towers of Bruges and Ghent
Oh Marieke, Marieke, so long ago
Between the towers of Bruges and Ghent
Out of love, warm love
The wind blows, the quiet wind
Out of love, warm love
Cries the sea, the grey sea
Without love, warm love
Suffers the light, the dark light
And sends the sand over my country
My flat country, my VlaanderlandAy Marieke, Marieke the flamming sky
Colors the towers of Bruges and Ghent
Ay Marieke, Marieke the Flemish sky
Weeps with me from Bruges to Ghent

Out of love warm love
Blows the wind, it is done
Out of love warm love
Weeps the sea, until the end

Out of love warm love
Suffers the light and all is done
And showers the sand over my land
My flat land, my Vlaanderland

*Frisia is an ancient land, first mentioned by the Romans and Pliny the Younger in the first century. According to Pliny, they lived in man-made hills along the coast line of the North Sea. Linguistically, it is akin to German, and unlike Dutch in its pronunciation. Flemish is written like Dutch, but pronounced like German. The Frisian that is still spoken in the Jutland peninsula sounds like a mix of German and English.