Monday 15 July 2013

A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge - George R. R. Martin

I can't seem to do anything too much of late. I'm thinking it may be the sunshine and heat. Lazy days. Lulling us into a haze of inactivity. Maybe it's the inevitable slump after the over-excitement of watching the recent successful sporting events. Maybe it's just the end of a long six months...

I managed some (belated) spring cleaning last week. Although my back still hurts and I (somehow, once again) wrenched my (already damaged) shoulder. Ouch.

My brain seems to have switched off though. Left the building. Gone off without me. And yet things still need to be done. Lists of things. I'm still at work. Not yet on holiday. Tasks need to be completed. Here and there.

There has been one achievement though. Just the one. Merrily being ticked off my list as I write. I finished Eugene Onegin. Pushkin. A life-size, drum-roll kind of an achievement, my friends. A novel in verse. A tragic poem. Read from start to finish. And enjoyed, into the bargain.

Indeed, a few lines in and I forgot that this was poetry. I was drawn in, pulled along by the tale and the characters. Wondering, imagining. Worrying and anxious. I think this is a good sign. I will certainly try more poetry. Of length. In the future. Some time.

For now, I'm satisfied. Although the tale was sad. Romance and tragedy inexplicably and irresistibly intertwined. Once again. Love and tears, life and death. It seems to be the only way.

I have the ambition of one day reading Pushkin in his native tongue. Possibly not EO, but something all the same. In the meantime, how grateful can we be to all the translators out there and the massive job they have to convey great literature to us not only in a tongue we can understand but in a manner we can appreciate? And in this particular case of EO, it's just all the more impressive. Not only did Stanley Mitchell have to convey the Russian into English. He had to do it in verse. Incredible. Mind blowing. And to do it so well. In my humble opinion. Although I have, of course, very little to compare it with. I'm sure my few words of praise would have little effect on him. Still, to all intents and purposes, it felt right. Thanks, Stan. You're the man.

And that's all the rhyming you'll get from me. Which can only be a blessing...

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