Thursday, August 25, 2011

View of a Pig

The pig lay on the barrow dead.
It weighed, they said, as much as three men.
Its eyes closed, pink white eyelashes.
Its trotters stuck straight out.

Such weight and thick pink bulk
Set in death seemed not just dead.
It was less than lifeless, further off.
It was like a sack of wheat.

I thumped it without feeling remorse.
One feels guilty insulting the dead,
Walking on graves. But this pig
Did not seem able to accuse.

It was too dead. Just so much
A poundage of lard and pork.
Its last dignity had entirely gone.
It was not a figure of fun.

Too dead now to pity.
To remember its life, din, stronghold
On earthly pleasure as it had been,
Seemed a false effort, and off the point.

Too deadly factual. Its weight
Oppressed me--how could it be moved?
And the trouble of cutting it up!
The gash in its throat was shocking, but not pathetic.

Once I ran at a fair in the noise
To catch a greased piglet
That was faster and nimbler than a cat,
Its squeal was the rending of metal.

Pigs must have hot blood, they feel like ovens.
Their bite is worse than a horse's--
They chop a half-moon clean out.
They eat cinders, dead cats.

Distinctions and admirations such
As this one was long finished with.
I stared at it a long time.
They were going to scald it.

Scald it and scour it like a doorstep.

-- Ted Hughes

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Music in the Age of Iron


This isn't the wind in the willows
nor that of the eucalyptus
nor even the wind that brightens sails
and moves the slow windmills.

Nor is it the wind that moves the clouds
in summer's calendar
nor the dawn's wind
rising with the birds.

Brothers, sisters
this is not the song of autumn
nor the warbling of lovers
who make love by moonlight.

This isn't the song of snow crystals
nor the alternating dance of day and night,
nor the slow rhythm of your breath
and my breath . . . listen:


It is the voice of the cities sick to death
--of steel sheets, rods and blocks--
the ubiquitous motor and the discord
of an epoch that's falling apart.

It is the trite humming that finds
an echo of change in the Apocalypse
the kingdom of speed
and the crossed signs of time.

It is the insensate noise of industry
--the factories exploited past reckoning--
traces of rot and insidious gases--
the factories, not you or I.


Uproar, friction and mist amid the machinery
--hideous shriek of this empty age--
in this bottomless barrel. It is
the international tongue of usury.

The new universal tongue:
esperanto of infamy
--wires, axes, chains--
the age of iron knows no other voice.


But the descent can't go on forever
because even noise has its limits . . . listen:
this is not the wind in the willows
nor that of the eucalyptus . . .

-- Alberto Blanco, trans. Julian Palley (dedicated to Gabriel Macotela)