14 June 2009

Nina Cassian

[from Nina Cassian's Continuum, Norton, 2008]

In an Olde English Inne

I'm cold,
sometimes drunk,
wasting my working vacation
near a fireplace, its coals burned out,
and a black cat --
talking to myself
and sometimes to the cat.

This realm is possessed by sundry ghosts,
some bearded, some feathered,
some just naked
like long, transparent fingers
playing an invisible score.

Cold, useless, drunk
and talking to myself
-- while the cat's only activity
is purring.

Tristia & Inferno

I refuse to climb and to descend
those paths
to make this place more familiar to me,
this place everybody talks about,
though nothing ever happens here.

I prefer to be exiled like Ovid
(whose nickname "Naso" fits my nose)
though not at a fiendish seashore, the Pontus Euxinus,
nor between hills almost bald,
with just one wart or a tuft of hair
from long-gone forests.

I prefer to be exiled like Dante
(with whom I share the profile),
but not from Eternal Rome,
rather from my vanishing childhood
in which many things happened,
but are never mentioned.

Actually, here I am, exiled
between a pregnant yesterday
and an aborted tomorrow.

Bun Nina Cassian's book @ Amazon

1 comment:

  1. wonderful poem by nina cassian. i was re-reading my journal from 2000 this morning and read a quote from cassian which i had saved there: "one regards the artist as abnormal because he exceeds the norm; actually the artist is much healthier than everyone else-he sees better, he hears better, he feels and understands better. In fact the majority of mediocre people suffers from sluggishness of the senses, emotions and thought. masterpieces are never sick."