terça-feira, 1 de setembro de 2015

Derek Walcott

The last leaves fell like notes from a piano 
and left their ovals echoing in the ear; 
with gawky music stands, the winter forest 
looks like an empty orchestra, its lines 
ruled on these scattered manuscripts of snow. 

The inlaid copper laurel of an oak 
shines though the brown-bricked glass above your head 
as bright as whisky, while the wintry breath 
of lines from Mandelstam, which you recite, 
uncoils as visibly as cigarette smoke. 

'The rustling of ruble notes by the lemon Neva.' 
Under your exile's tongue, crisp under heel, 
the gutturals crackle like decaying leaves, 
the phrase from Mandelstam circles with light 
in a brown room, in barren Oklahoma. 

There is a Gulag Archipelago 
under this ice, where the salt, mineral spring 
of the long Trail of Tears runnels these plains 
as hard and open as a herdsman's face 
sun-cracked and stubbled with unshaven snow. 

Growing in whispers from the Writers' Congress, 
the snow circles like cossacks round the corpse 
of a tired Choctaw till it is a blizzard 
of treaties and white papers as we lose 
sight of the single human through the cause. 

So every spring these branches load their shelves, 
like libraries with newly published leaves, 
till waste recycles them—paper to snow— 
but, at zero of suffering, one mind 
lasts like this oak with a few brazen leaves. 

As the train passed the forest's tortured icons, 
ths floes clanging like freight yards, then the spires 
of frozen tears, the stations screeching steam,
he drew them in a single winters' breath 
whose freezing consonants turned into stone. 

He saw the poetry in forlorn stations 
under clouds vast as Asia, through districts 
that could gulp Oklahoma like a grape, 
not these tree-shaded prairie halts but space 
so desolate it mocked destinations. 

Who is that dark child on the parapets 
of Europe, watching the evening river mint 
its sovereigns stamped with power, not with poets, 
the Thames and the Neva rustling like banknotes, 
then, black on gold, the Hudson's silhouettes? 

>From frozen Neva to the Hudson pours, 
under the airport domes, the echoing stations, 
the tributary of emigrants whom exile 
has made as classless as the common cold, 
citizens of a language that is now yours, 

and every February, every 'last autumn', 
you write far from the threshing harvesters 
folding wheat like a girl plaiting her hair, 
far from Russia's canals quivering with sunstroke, 
a man living with English in one room. 

The tourist archipelagoes of my South 
are prisons too, corruptible, and though 
there is no harder prison than writing verse, 
what's poetry, if it is worth its salt, 
but a phrase men can pass from hand to mouth? 

>From hand to mouth, across the centuries, 
the bread that lasts when systems have decayed, 
when, in his forest of barbed-wire branches, 
a prisoner circles, chewing the one phrase 
whose music will last longer than the leaves, 

whose condensation is the marble sweat 
of angels' foreheads, which will never dry 
till Borealis shuts the peacock lights 
of its slow fan from L.A. to Archangel, 
and memory needs nothing to repeat. 

Frightened and starved, with divine fever 
Osip Mandelstam shook, and every 
metaphor shuddered him with ague, 
each vowel heavier than a boundary stone, 
'to the rustling of ruble notes by the lemon Neva,' 

but now that fever is a fire whose glow 
warms our hands, Joseph, as we grunt like primates 
exchanging gutturals in this wintry cave 
of a brown cottage, while in drifts outside 
mastodons force their systems through the snow.

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