В электрическом свете (Хини/Кружков)
|В электрическом свете / Electric Light
, пер. Григорий Михайлович Кружков (p. 1945)
|Язык оригинала: английский. Название в оригинале: Electric Light. — Опубл.: 2001 / пер. «Дружба народов» 2003 № 6. Источник: ЖЗ|
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Seamus Heaney on the making of his recent collection, Electric Light
Saturday 16 June 2001 18.35 BST First published on Saturday 16 June 2001 18.35 BST
For a long time I couldn't decide what to call the collection. At first it seemed that it should be The Real Names because the names of so many real people appear in its pages and because what happens in the poem of that title is what's happening throughout the book. Incidents from childhood and adolescence and the recent past swim up into memory: moments that were radiant or distressful at the time come back in the light of a more distanced and more informed consciousness.
"Informed consciousness"? Well, in the writing of any poem, there's usually a line being cast from the circumference of your whole understanding towards intuitions and images down there in the memory pool. If you're lucky, you feel life moving at the other end of the line; the remembered thing starts off a chain reaction of words and associations, and at that point what you need is the whole of your acquired knowledge and understanding, your cultural memory and literary awareness. You need them to come to your aid and throw a shape that will match and make sense of your excitement.
In many of the poems, however - "Out of the Bag", "The Loose Box", "Known Word", "The Real Names", the poem in memory of Ted Hughes, the title poem, and several others - it was not a single shape that was thrown, but several. Different sections of the poems represent the different casts made. The pleasure of doing it that way was in following each new impulse, finding and trusting approaches that allowed both oneself and the subject to stretch their wings. The risk was that the poem might then range too freely beyond the reader's ken - but it still seemed a risk worth taking.
"Electric Light" is a case in point. The first and third sections are probably straightforward enough: I don't say that the old woman is my grandmother, but there are clues to show that she is ancient, archetypal and central to the family. The risk is in trusting that the reader will go with the middle section, which is an evocation of my first trips to London, by ferry and train, but is also meant to suggest a journey into poetic vocation. It should signal a connection between the strange and slightly literary word "ails", spoken by the sibylline grandmother to the distressed child, and the aspiring poet's sense of historical and literary England, seen first from the train window and then deliberately sought out in the Southwark of Chaucer's Tabard Inn and Shakespeare's Globe.
Once "Electric Light" got written, I had no doubt about it as the title poem. Apart from anything else, the brightness of my grandmother's house is associated in my mind with a beautiful line from the Mass for the Dead - "Et lux perpetua luceat eis", "And let perpetual light shine upon them" - a line which is also echoed in one of the sections of "The Real Names". Then, once I settled on the title, I began to see what I hadn't seen before, that there was light all over the place, from the shine on the weir in the very first poem to the "reprieving light" of my father's smile in the penultimate line of the penultimate poem in the book. And as well as this, there is an almost equally pervasive note of elegy.
in Read invented by Teads
"The stilly night" is mentioned and to anyone who knows the Thomas Moore song, the phrase inevitably calls up "the light / Of other days around me". At several places in the collection, a brightness of other days falls from the classical air, from the imagined weather of Virgil's Eclogues and from the actual skies above sites in the Pelopponese and other legendary parts of Greece. And some of that brightness casts its beams even farther north, to shine on the Bann Valley on the eve of the third millennium, or to turn a rented smallholding in Co Wicklow at the end of the 20th century into the equivalent of a farm in the Mantuan countryside, confiscated and resettled on the eve of the first.
The book could even carry a Virgilian epigraph: it is full of mortalia, by people and things we must pass away from or that have had to pass away from us. Deaths of poets and of friends, and of friends who were poets. Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
This article was written for the current issue of the Poetry Book Society Bulletin. For more details about the PBS, ring 020-8870 8403.