Friday, August 13, 2010

Man Cursing the Sea — Miroslav Holub

After I posted the poem from Holub’s Vanishing Lung Syndrome the other day, several people commented on the facebook note (my blog imports into facebook) with various interesting things related to Holub. Christopher Salerno suggested the following poem, which I found through a google search (so if there are any errors, please let me know). David Walker tells me that Sagittal Section is out of print, but that this poem, and much of the rest of the book, was reprinted in his selected poems, Intensive Care:

Man Cursing the Sea
—Miroslav Holub. (Trans. Stuart Friebert and Dana Habova.)
from Sagittal Section. 1980

just climbed to the top of the cliffs
and began to curse the sea.

Dumb water, stupid pregnant water,
slow, slimy copy of the sky,
you peddler between sun and moon,
pettifogging pawnbroker of shells,
soluble, loud-mouthed bull,
fertilizing the rocks with your blood,
suicidal sword
dashed to bits on the headland,
hydra, hydrolyzing the night,
breathing salty clouds of silence,
spreading jelly wings
in vain, in vain,
gorgon, devouring its own body,

water, you absurd flat skull of water—

And so he cursed the sea for a spell,
it licked his footprints in the sand
like a wounded dog.

And then he came down
and patted
the tiny immense stormy mirror of the sea.

There you go, water, he said,
and went his way.


At 8/13/2010 8:08 AM, Anonymous Nic Sebastian said...

This is so great! Reminds me of 'come back, you fucking sea!' by Grace Paley:

Thanks for sharing!

At 8/13/2010 8:43 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

And thanks for the link. The more I find out about Holub's work, the more I find to cheer for.

At 8/13/2010 9:50 AM, Anonymous Susag Grimm said...


At 8/14/2010 8:16 PM, Blogger Lyle Daggett said...

I first read Holub's poems something like 35 years ago, and over the years I've read everything by him that I could get my hands on.

Over the years when I've been talking with someone who doesn't read much poetry or that they "don't understand" poetry, I often will show them some of Holub's poems, and usually they'll really like and respond to the poems.


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