Parable of an Old Country

It is nighttime in Budapest.  The plates under
the land are moving again.  We wrinkle
down the face of Fisherman’s Bastion
where the tourist crowd, one long lens,
points toward the Danube and the bank
beyond.  At night, the riverboats wheel
west toward Vienna or against the current,
Sulina and the Black Sea.  They are tiny
shoes under the moon-tealed flow.  On my
new desk you lined up my muse elephants
like  clay Rockettes, at whose end you sat
the Ohio buckeye I carried in my pocket
for the last four years.  It seems as unusual
here as I do.  Sometimes I feel I have nothing
left to say.  Sometimes my heart panics,
an outdated translation, and your foreign
words are the only words that will do.
The past is the old country for everyone.

Jessica M. Jewell


1 Response to “Parable of an Old Country”

  1. 1 mary September 9, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Where did you get that Ohio Buckeye? I had to read this several times to try to understand it. I think I do and I love it. You are terrific.


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Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


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