jueves, mayo 28, 2015

Jose Pedroni: Romance de la mujer que espera

Dedico  esta página a mi  querida amiga Amalia Carrara...Si la de los barcos, las damas y los ángeles.
 Este fin de semana pasado encontré esta torrecilla , que se supone es un “bird house”, pero que me pareció mas apropiada para una de las caritas de Amalia, adornada por  mis humildes  joyas.
Casi por casualidad – esas casualidades que nos depara Google—he dado con un romance que tiene la misma gracia y sencillez que esta mozuela que espera en su castillo de madera...
Amalia,  te deseo un productivo y feliz verano.


De codos en el balcón,
calle antigua de la iglesia,
con un libro que no lee
está la mujer que espera.

Ha llovido, y el chubasco,
sembrador de manos llenas,
para gloria de chiquillos
tapó de arroz las veredas.
Niñas de la vecindad
están barriendo las piedras;
todas la mujeres barren,
menos la mujer que espera.
Flor de lluvia, en el balcón
qué hermosa se siente ella;
qué hermosa para aquel hombre
todo mojado que llega.
El agua, echada a su paso,
le detendrá en la vereda,
y quizá le diga él,
lleno de buenas maneras:
_¿Por qué tienes a la lluvia
así caída en tu acera?
¿No ves que los pies del hombre
poco a poco se la llevan?
Mujer, levanta los ojos.
¡Qué lindos ojos, estrella!
Pero el hombre no la habló.
Pero la mujer espera.


Personaje retrasado,
la luna entra en escena.
¿De donde viene la luna
que viene comida a medias?
La luna fue sorprendida
por los perros en la hierba
y para subir se ayuda
de la ramas de la tierra.

Flor de noche, en el balcón
está la mujer que espera.
Lo que le falta a la luna
lo tiene de sobra ella:
Claro de luna su frente;
anuncio lunar sus piernas;
el lado desconocido
de la luna en su cadera,
y dos lunas en su pecho
que ya no puede esconderlas.

Lo que le falta a la luna
lo tiene de sobra ella,
y lo tiene para el hombre
que pase por la vereda.
¿Será aquél que en el café
en mesa de paño juega
con tres esferas que son
tres lunas sobre la hierba,
o aquél otro que en la esquina
fino bastón revolea
para lucirle la luna
que en la empuñadura lleva?

¡Ay, qué hermosa está y qué sola,
qué sola la luna llena!


Tocada la medianoche
en el reloj de la iglesia,
una mujer con la luna
se va a la cama con pena.
El aire la está mirando
por el ojo de la puerta:
ya se quita los anillos,
ya se saca la pollera:
ya a sus pies deja caer
un montoncito de seda;
ya el antifaz de sus pechos
en el picaporte cuelga;
ya quiere leer un libro,
ya apaga la luz, ya piensa.
¡Ay, ya se pone a llorar
con la melena revuelta!
Afuera la luna baja,
es un globo que se quema.

Jose Pedroni

miércoles, mayo 13, 2015

Remembering Karl Maurer (1948-2015)

          1977. A newly-wed, I got to Kennedy airport where my two brothers in law--the oldest and the youngest--were supposed to be waiting for us. Christopher had told me back then that he was certain that as soon as I met his older brother Karl I would fall in love with him. The idea made me laugh-- as in love as I was, I thought it preposterous. Coming out of customs into the welcome area, I immediately recognized my two brothers in law and felt incredible relief to see them surprised and smiling at me with more than approval. Karl would become, for the next few years while we were in Philadelphia, my only and best friend, my first English teacher, the occasional nanny of my two kids... like the time when they were taking a nap and he came and said, “Estrella, I'm taking them to the park.” “No....”  But away they went. There were also times when I asked him to watch them, and heard, “I’m too busy.”  My two kids, Danny and Pablo, grew up loving him.
          The English lessons were challenging at first, considering that I knew not a word of English, something that Karl chose to ignore. Every night after dinner, for two or three hours, there he was reading poetry, explaining it to me, and me trying to look smart and interested, though I understood nothing, until the day I realized that I could follow the poems, and manage to express some ideas about them.
          “That’s right, Estrella! That’s right!”
Love you forever.
With my son Danny.

Caroline Mia Maurer


         To me, our most vivid impressions of a person, and perhaps the most long lasting come from our senses.
            I could recognize Karl's scent in a heartbeat: it consisted mainly of tobacco, Altoids and old books. Running home from school the first day of summer vacations and entering the elevator was enough to be certain he had arrived.
            His hands were elegant and strong. Whenever he touched my forehead I couldn’t keep my eyes open--they would close so that no other sense could intrude on poor fragile tact (I think sight can destroy delicate moments like that! that’s also why in a real hug, or during a beautiful song, our eyes almost involuntarily shut). I wished that the moment would last forever. I felt such security and warmth. Even though, he wasn’t the most physically loving person, I do think he was actually one of the most affectionate persons, for his affection was never oppressive or overwhelming, and actually kind of made me feel for seconds like flying, like the wind. He was immensely free. I recognize that in myself as well. And I see and feel also that life is harder sometimes when your spirit is like the wind, with all its intensity, passion and stubbornness. He was much braver than I am of course. He was also strange, sensitive, bright, talented, funny, and honest.
            He didn’t like sentimentality or ‘taking walks down memory lane’, as he would call it, which was at times difficult for me to understand. During the past years I would bring on my visits pictures, or tried to make him watch videos of us when we were little. Treasures for me that he quickly rejected. Now I can see why his concept of memory lane is dangerous, or rather, unnecessary. My childhood, like his, was full of magic, a magic that can only very rarely be glimpsed in a photograph or a video. It is true of our Volvo adventures; when the four of us climbed into that mattress in the strong old station wagon and drove deep into the south of Chile, getting lost while accompanied by the starriest of skies --these are secret moments that can only exist somewhere in Felipe, Barbie, Karl and I. We need not travel to memory lane and seek them; they are already part of who we are.  
            There are few things I loved more than to hear his voice, reading to me. He had a gift for storytelling--he did it with such preciseness and tenderness, knowing exactly how to change the tone of his voice for different characters. He knew how to explain things to children. He never underestimated my capacity for understanding complex things, even if this process would take years. I remember how he moved his hands while reading The Innocent Voyage, to explain the way handsome ships were built, demanding of me to imagine them. He pushed me to think and to learn how recognize truth and beauty in books and to disregard, all abstract language, (gobbledygook as he would call it), He showed me how to write using the ear; he told me never to sign my name on anything that wasn’t worthy of it.

            This past year in November I brought to Irving The Baron in the Trees by Calvino, and asked him if he could read it to me. For years I had so longed to hear his voice reading to me again; so momentarily I could return to being a little girl, curled up against him. He tried, but his shortness of breath beat us, and when I saw he was beginning to struggle I offered to read to him. But I felt clumsy and had to stop to ask him what this or that word meant, with my limited knowledge of English. But he said he enjoyed it, and as I had learned I could always count on his honesty, I kept going. We took Calvino up during this past week in the hospital and by his bedside. Now it was always me reading to him. I was terrified that we wouldn’t get to finish it. But we got to the final chapter of the novel at the same time we reached the final chapter of his life. Both endings were dignified, sad, and beautiful. The Baron, ill at the top of the tree catches a glimpse of a hot air balloon that English aeronauts were experiencing with along the coast of Italy. "The dying Cosimo, at the second when the anchor rope passed near him, gave one of those leaps he so often used to do in his youth, gripped the rope with his feet on the anchor and his body in a hunch, so we saw him fly away, taken by the wind, scarce breaking the course of the balloon, and vanish out to sea". I held his hand while I read these last few words and suddenly lost some of the fear, for I understood so many things in one second, and thanked the nature of life, chance and decision for being so exact and so beautiful.
            Since 2:52 pm Monday May 4th I’ve felt the world suddenly deprived of half its color and beauty. I sit now and I type on his computer, feeling almost like an intruder, being careful not to move an inch of what he left intact--his served cup of coffee, his scribbled notes (which I feel tempted to keep forever as treasures) his half opened bottle of wine, the dried up hand picked flowers in an improvised but beautiful cup, the smell of his books, the elegance of his mess, the presence of his spirit. I have never felt such piercing grief. But at the same time I also feel a certain kind of comfort that he has such a rich legacy and that I will be able to reread and reread it all during the rest of my lifetime.
            For after all, in a way he is, like Borges, like Balde, like Auden, like Frost, like Sor Juana, like Hardy, like all his beloved companions-- like every great poet-- immortal.

Since his death on May 4, at his home in Dallas, Karl’s family, students, colleagues, and friends have tried to express the love they felt for him as father, teacher, and friend. 

“He graduated from Dartmouth with an almost perfect transcript, winning a full two-year fellowship to Oxford, about which I bragged to my friends, who had never heard of Oxford.  We have another picture of him taken there, standing in his robes in the fading October sunshine, smiling quizzically into the camera, smoking a cigarette, the smoke drifting over his high forehead and beautiful brown hair.”   --Holly Maurer-Klein, from words spoken at Karl’s funeral service, St. Patrick’s church, Philadelphia   

 Holly Maurer-Klein
...The week before I traveled to Dallas, I found a photo album containing pictures of Karl taken before I was born.  As a baby he glowed, with peach skin, huge bright blue eyes and soft yellow hair. He was one of those babies that seem sent from another planet with a message.  He was so beautiful people reached out to touch his silken hair.   As the oldest, he rated a full album, black-and-white prints mounted on black matte paper, his age to the month noted carefully in my mother’s round hand; in the pictures her arm curves lovingly around him; both she and my father have that fascinated, cautious, and awestruck look of first-time parents.
          Later, teenage crew-cut Karl stands in the driveway, wearing one of those striped cotton t-shirts that boys wore in the ’60’s, handsome as a prince, hands on his hips, feet on the ground, a baseball glove in one hand, the sun behind him.  He was a pitcher; from the heart of the field he fired the balls home, hard, right where they should go, over the plate.  Bone thin, he didn’t sweat.  He had a bad temper.   I remember arguments on our front lawn that he always won with my other brothers.  He fired apples at them the same way he threw a baseball.   
          He had a nickname that we never used to his face, only when we were talking about him fondly to one another:  Lark.  He and Christopher, or “the big kids” as my mother called them, were a year apart. They always spoke quietly and intently to one another, and were connected in a way the rest of us were not, to them or to each other.  I seem to remember that Christopher made up an anagram for Karl’s name, Rumer A. Lark, which in a shortened form became the name we little kids, I and my younger brother Tim and my older brother David, gave him.  It seemed perfectly appropriate.  Karl was beautiful and high flying and free.   He could draw.  He played the violin.  His handwriting was sharp and clear.  He wrote with a fountain pen.  He had a beautiful singing voice.
          When he wasn’t around, I would visit his room, which smelled like cigarettes, and books, and tea.  His beautiful handwriting was everywhere, on scraps of paper.  In blue ink.  From a bottle.   When I was ten he taught me how to draw a tree.   “Just look at it, Holly.”
I looked and tried to draw.
          “No.  Look at it again more closely.”
            I looked and drew again.
            “You’re still not looking!” he exclaimed impatiently. 
When I finally did as I was told, I realized that the tree branches were not fat and black like slugs, as I had drawn them, but thin and shaded with gray, and they weren’t geometric shapes but branched like rivers, with little tributaries and streams, random and playful.
          All of us younger children, and later his two children, and my own -- were drawn to him like moths to flame.  He wasn’t physically affectionate, but he knew how to talk to children, and really look at them, and, when he was inclined, to listen.  When he tired of us, as he always did, suddenly, he dismissed us; he didn’t have a parent’s weary tolerance for dullness and routine. . . .

Karl and Felipe

 Christopher Maurer

... These words from Petrarch seem to me to describe Karl and his relation to poetry:
“these beloved works have so entered into me, implanted not only in memory but in my very marrow, uniting with my talent itself, that even if I never  . . . read them again they would grow there, putting roots into my innermost soul.”   Karl took poems to heart, knew them by heart, shared them with all his heart, urgently and lovingly.
     I will read two of the poems he translated and left in our hands in the last days of his life.   These are by Anyte of Tegea, the first poet (he told me) to write poems about untamed nature and epitaphs for animals, like this one for a dolphin which has been stranded on the beach and will never return to the ocean. Karl's words and Anyte's:

No longer ever delighting in navigable seas
     shall I up-fling my neck, leaping out of the deeps,
nor ever next to the beautiful beak of a well-tholed ship
     shall I snort rejoicing at my figurehead,
but onto the land the sea’s brilliant wetness thrust me
     and here on this bit of shore I lie.

“Every one of [Anyte’s] little poems is a jewel,” Karl wrote. “But beyond that they have a strange power.  When they describe (though with such restraint!) the terrible, they have a kind of healing power.  . . . They somehow solace –they help one calmly to accept pain and death.  But the reason, I think, is that they never describe just a part of life -- but all of it.  [In the] one about the dead dolphin [are] both death and the bliss of being alive, at its most blissful: the two things simultaneous.  It's that that causes us to lose our fear.” 
     ...In the hospital we spoke about the “viator” Anyte addresses, for we are all wayfarers, and this world, este mundo “es camino para el otro”, though Karl and I never, or seldom, talked about what ‘el otro’ or ‘lo otro’ might be.  Another poem, in Karl's translation:  

Stranger, rest your worn limbs under this elm. For you,
      sweetly rustles a breeze among the green leaves.
Drink the rushing cold of the spring: for wayfarers
      in the boiling heat this repose is dear.

Karl, creator and sharer of so much beauty, rest in peace!

Karl’s University of Dallas webpage is here, with some of his essays and translations, including his Jacobus Balde. Here is his amazing compendium of  Websites Useful to Classicists . . .”   Years ago, students collected these sayings from one of his Greek classes, and these from his Latin class. Here is his answer to the question "Why Study Classics?"

Karl y Mia