Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Reflection on Mayakovsky

In May of last year I had the privilege of making the acquaintance of an individual who has since become a great friend. She introduced me to the works of Vladimir Mayakovsky and I had the pleasure of meeting with her this past Thursday to read and discuss more from the poet. I cannot help but feel a profound sense of gratitude for a friend who is willing to take time out of her busy schedule simply to read and discuss poetry with me (the natural result is an intriguing discussion on life as it relates to ourselves and the world in general). There is a particular pleasure that comes with reading and discussing poetry with someone who is sincerely interested in it and willing to expound upon her own interpretations and thoughts. The experience was truly gratifying and a welcome change from the realm of daily activity and thought. I wish that I could spend more time with people exploring the ideas of poets and in turn developing our own ideas and exploring them.
Needless to say, I should like to take a minute and share a few excerpts from Mayakovsky's "The Bedbug":

"Formerly I believed / Books were made like this: / A Poet came, / Lightly opened his lips, / And the inspired fool burst into song-- / If you please! / But it seems, / Before they can launch a song, / poets must tramp for days with callused feet, / and the sluggish fish of the imagination / Flounders softly in the slush of the heart. / And while, with twittering rhymes, they boil a broth / of loves and nightingales, / The tongueless street merely writhes / For lack of something to shout or say."

"What can such a clod desire? / Though a clod, many things! / The self does not care / Whether one is cast of bronze / Or the heart has an iron lining. / At night the self only desires / To steep its clangor in softness, / In woman."

"On the windowpanes, gray raindrops / Howled together, / Piling on a grimace / As though the gargoyles / Of Notre Dame were howling."

"Almighty, you concocted a pair of hands, / Arranged / For everyone to have a head; / But why didn't you see to it / That one could without torture / Kiss, and kiss and kiss?!"

"Mauling your suede gloves, / You declared: / 'D'you know, / I'm getting married.' / All right, marry then. / So what. / I can take it. / As you see, I'm calm! / Like the pulse / Of a corpse."

"Rain has drowned the sidewalks in sobs; / The puddle-prisoned rogue, / All drenched, licks the corpse of the streets by cobbles / Clobbered, / But on his grizzled eyelashes-- / Yes!-- / On the eyelashes of frosted icicles / Tears gush from his eyes-- / Yes!-- / From the drooping eyes of the drainpipes."

My apologies for taking these quotes from Mayakovsky's work, placing them out of order and out of context, and then choosing not to expound upon them. The truth is that I would be doing a great disservice to attempt to recreate the insights that are shared in person, in the moment. An epiphany is always so much more profound when it is presented in the moment. My humble advice to those who would like to know what magnificent insights my friend shared with me. . . read some poetry yourself, find a friend who loves it, and share your ideas with one another--there is no substitute for such human connection.


Ms. Liz said...

amen to that! I'm so glad you and Nastia had a good time. Connection is so rare and so beautiful isn't it? THATS why literature is so amazing. It constantly reminds us of who we are and what we're capable of and that we're not alone.

Liz W. said...

Ah, discussing poetry is my favorite thing to do! I discuss it with myself all the time. ;-)

I'm glad to know there are kindred spirits in this world...

Liz W. said...

Oh, and thanks for introducing me to Vladmir Mayakovsky. I've never read him before and it is quite enjoyable!

Jennette said...

Oh, to read poetry again!! Thanks for your intro to Mr. Mayakovsky. I'm afraid my only poetry lately is limited to self-written, board exam themes like:
Oh my young one, who does thou heart troubleth you so?/ Your countenance so blue / your heart looks like a shoe/ I'll seek an echo, for then I'll know / my poor thing, it's Tetralogy of Fallot!