Grappling with Paz

it is useful at times to figure where a poet’s thrust lies, the resultant vector, the primary determinant of all that can be poetically trusted to stand in for the poet – “a poet is primarily a poet, art for art’s sake, no?” – no – Paz ambassadored India, monkeyed around with gods and grammar – letting his guard down it seems on caste (a poet appraising a poet needs to be watchful – these days more so) – pound & eliot (& others) bamboozled along the fascist way and got called out by a precious few (not by Paz though who admired eliot; a poet appraising a poet needs to be watchful) and the imprint of that carelessness is this brilliant void of the nihilist poem, all that passes off for a poem these days (watchful yet?) – back to Paz: translated by Rukeyser; perhaps an earlier attempt by another poet to grapple with an other – perhaps those poems of his are not his but hers – maybe she was just monkeying around with him, playfully letting the gods moisten the sap of antonymnity, the dialectics of being one in relation to the other – perhaps she supped enough sap to allow him to breathe through the pores of the new poem, her poem as voice, as song, a forgiving to let the other move past – there is no resultant vector in Paz: he’s a mishmash – the aesthete would call him complicated, Wittgenstein (‘untying the knots of thinking’) would just dub him confused, and Rukeyser? well she would simply have gone about playfully monkeying around with the x’s and not x’s of Paz, an exercise in mirth that hints at the deadly seriousness of moral ambiguity.

8 comments on “Grappling with Paz

  1. adminclouds says:

    Such important and difficult stuff of poets and poetry. Clay feet to nihilistic dribble. Thank you

  2. mrsorenson says:

    I think you can play baseball with other baseballers, even when they are gun-toters or tea-totalers, and although their red-dirty socks and green-grassy pants look like yours, you are not responsible for their playing of the same game you play.

    We poets can read back, read forward, compare ourselves, and analyze the stars, but what matters most is that we are playing the game. It is unavoidable that the context of your playing is the playing played by predecessors and teammates.

    When you are at the plate, concentrate.

    • huzaifazoom says:

      There’s that; then there’s the card-game heuristic of doing the best one can with the hand one’s dealt with; good rules of thumb; neither go as far as ‘when the going gets tough, the tough..’ or any of a number of think-positive-quit-complainings. But in capping critique and instilling doubt in doubting the rules of the game, they tend to have a similar effect. In the end power goes to the bank, laughing.

      Thanks again for stopping by. Always good to have your mindful feedback.

  3. jvismara says:

    started reading Octavio Paz reading of India in English as I thought I could share parts with more friends than if I read it in Spanish…
    at some point, I was troubled by the book, so I opened and tried to compare the translation from Spanish.
    there were two different books… the translation was not what Paz said, it was a very personal interpretation by the translator.
    ended reading only the Spanish / original book and yes, its a master piece of reading, in the sense of understanding, a new different culture.
    amazing amazing amazing.

    • huzaifazoom says:

      Very true. A sensitive translator has to bring her/his self to the translation (an ordinary translation pays heed neither to the original nor to oneself, echoing rather what he feels the gallery wants).

      That is why I feel Muriel Rukeyser’s translations are more about her entanglement with Paz’s poems than just Paz. The best a non-native speaker can hope for is a good poet with right sensibilities doing the translation (a good poet is not enough) such as Rukeyser for Paz or Tagore for Kabir.

      Thanks so much for passing by and sharing your thoughts 🙂

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