November 29, 2008

Coca-Cola Douche

This post now resides on my other site 50 Watts:

November 27, 2008

Belli's Red Gravy

Image found at Bookforum.

The Beastly Paradise

Animals led a sort of landlord's life
And did not give a fuck for anyone
Till man fucked up their social union
With gun and trap and farm and butcher's knife.
Freedom was frolic, roughish fun was rife,
And as for talk, they just went on and on,
Yakking as good as any dean or don,
While Adam stood there dumb, with a dumb wife.

This was the boss who came to teach them what
Was what, with harness, hatchet, stick and shot,
Bashing them to red gravy, thick and hot.
He stole their speech too, making sure he'd got
Dumb servitude--the plough; if not, the pot.
He had the last word. Nay, he had the lot.

Man the Tyrant

This furred and feathered boss of bird and brute
Assumed the god, all bloody airs and graces,
Nor deigned to look down in his subjects' faces,
Treating each creature like a mildewed boot.
He swilled, he gorged, but his preferred pursuit
Mixed sticking pigs and whipping hounds on chases,
Marches through arches, blown brass and tossed maces,
With decking Eve, that bitch, in hunter's loot.

The beasts had hunted looks, being forced to make,
Poor wretches, the bad best of a bad job
And put up with that swine--all save the snake
Who, spitting like a kettle on a hob,
Weaved at the foul shapes tyranny can take
And hissed: "I'll get you yet, you fucking snob."

A Thanksgiving message from Italian poet and PETA member Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791 - 1863), translated by Anthony Burgess. From wikipedia:

"A selection of Belli's sonnets were translated into English by Anthony Burgess, who employed a rough slang tinged with Lancastrian as a stand-in for Belli's Roman dialect. These translations appear in the novel ABBA ABBA, which deals with a fictional encounter between Belli and John Keats."

I found this novel courtesy of the Neglected Books page. Read Anecdotal Evidence on Burgess.

Also from wikipedia: "'Abba Abba' is the epitaph on Burgess's marble memorial stone, behind which the vessel with his remains is kept, in Monte Carlo."


Update, 12/3/08: As he often does, Neil at Adventures in the Print Trade improved this post greatly with his comments. Everything after this point is from Neil:

I've located my copy of Robert Garioch's Complete Poetical Works. There are more Belli sonnets than I'd remembered -- 120 in total, the result of a really sustained effort at the end of Garioch's life. They're absolutely great, the language "alive as a bout of all-in wrestling," in Hugh MacDiarmid's phrase. He translated both of the two Burgess ones you posted. The first is
The Beasties of the Yirdlie Paradise

The beasties of thon place, or Adam's reign,
levit as well as lairds, I hae nae dout,
mainaged their ain affairs, and gaed about
lowse as they likit, nor behaudit nane.

Nae grooms, nae toffs invitit to the shoot,
nae killin-hous, nae skelps, nae need to hain;
sae faur as talkin wes concerned, ilkane
blethert awa like doctors in dispute.

But eftir Adam cam to be their chief,
in cam the gun, the pole-aix and the whup,
dauds on the heid, and ilka cause for grief.

And syne, for the first time, yon man of micht
reiv'd frae the beasts their word, garr'd them shut up,
sae he allane cuid speak, and aye be richt.

The second is entitled "Wha Asks Fir It, Gets It." The last three lines are:

But no the Serpent, that cuid plainly see
aa this: "Big-heidit cuif! Ye'll ken some day,"
he tellt his gaffer, "whit I'll dae to ye."

Without consulting the originals, I suspect the Burgess translations are much freer than Garioch's, but they are wonderfully energetic and forceful. Bravura performances, with those relentless rhythms and all those internal rhymes tumbling over one another. Garioch's approach is quieter, but still full of sly wit and delight in language.


Thanks again Neil. I will pick up Garioch's book to read the rest of the sonnets.

November 25, 2008

Paul Rand, Anti-War, Pro-Typography

This post now resides on my other site 50 Watts:

November 23, 2008

Black Eyes and Lemonade at the Evoluon

This post now resides on my other site 50 Watts: