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Festival Blues - Latin exercise

by NinaLara 

Posted: 26 June 2006
Word Count: 364
Summary: On reflection, childbirth was easier than this exercise!

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Rain dribbles the guy ropes
from the blue cathedral.
Sound checks compliment
my babyís feedback reverbs.

Moth-like, a cocoon
musty in blankets,
I tuck woollen wings
into the crib of my folded legs
and rock my son
tense from the fight with sleep.
Stinging with damp,
and sick with the sourness
of beer and grass
fermenting the canvas domes.

I am transfixed
by the flared end of a splif.
The warm orange drifts
like an alien craft between
the smoke ghosted faces of a trinity.
Jesus with dreadlocks to Tolouse Lautrec
to a pierced septum with wolf-man t-shirt
devouring God and Nature.

The seductive scent of them
wraps my blanket closer,
listing men who failed the heat test.

My mater dolorosa fights her femme fatal.

My sonís body feels peaceful.
I sigh into him,
soothed by his sleeping beauty.

Crowds press in behind us.
The Ali Khans come out on stage,
in a celebratory display of patrilineage.
Their sound is a cave of molten gold
feeding a furnace through the base of my chest.

The roof and sky beyond curve above us
in a question mark, doubting
any truth for he and me
on this dismal ledge between worlds of men.


Part 2

Whether one likes it or not
Go with the flow
If the end is good, everything will be good
Up from the depths of misery
In these days friends are won through flattery, the truth gives birth to hate.
From the bottom of the chest.
Man is wolf to man
God and nature do not work together in vain
Here lies.
There is danger in delay.
Fire tests gold; adversity tests strong men
May peace be with you
Sorrowful mother
Avarice is the problem, money itself is not evil.
As you sow, so shall you reap.

Stage 1

Nolens volens
Ventis secundis, tene cursum
Si finis bonus est, totum bonum erit
De profundis
Hoc tempore obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit
Ab imo pectore
Lupus est homo homini
Deus et natua non faciunt frusta
Hic jacet sepultus
Periculum in mora
Ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes viros
Pax vobiscum
Mater dolorosa
Radix omnium malorum est cupiditas
Ut sementem feceris, ita metes

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 12:06 on 27 June 2006  Report this post
Hi Nina,

Your summary made me laugh! This exercise has produced some great responses. I love comparing the straight English translations with the third stage of the poems - it's like a glimpse into the poets' mind.

Some fabulous images here - you've combined reality/experience, vision and language in the most wonderful and way - a sensual feast. I thought at first (the summary did it) that you'd given birth at a music festival, but reading again it seems as though you were simply there with your son.

I want to keep reading this - it's very special. You've communicated the experience vividly, yet each subsequent read gives one more, and you've made something magical, hinted at truths discovered too.

I wondered if 'moth like' and 'wolf man' needed hypens, but otherwise I'm too lost in admiration at the moment to think about revisions. A brilliant response.


Paul Isthmus at 12:58 on 27 June 2006  Report this post
Nina, this is brilliant. I was moved. All the stuff that goes on around

My sonís body feels peaceful.
I sigh into him,
soothed by his sleeping beauty.

brings that into relief and makes it beautiful. I thought of my own mother, and thought how in hard times I as a baby must have been a comfort to her - a strange new emotion - empathising with her from a place where I wasn't perhaps conscious of empathy - but almost as if a memory. A very special thing to evoke, thank you.

I've only read through once. I'm sure there's more to discover. There were inner grumbles at first as I thought you had strayed too far from the latin (which I thought had a wonderful sound and uncanny sense to it - good selection) - but you weren't satisfied with just doing that and have made it your own.

Cool beans is what I say.


Amym at 13:16 on 27 June 2006  Report this post
I really love this Nina - as someone with a long standing attachment to their baby blanket(!) the second stanza (especially 'woolen wings' and 'moth-like') really resonated and makes a lovely contrast to all the damp and discomfort. 'Tense from his fight with sleep' is also a really lovely line - I can imagine his screwed up face. Great - thank you.

NinaLara at 15:26 on 27 June 2006  Report this post
Thanks Nell, Paul and Amy!

I think this is a response the masculine Roman culture as much as to the phrases I chose!
I haven't quite got there with the flow of it yet ... suggestions welcome!

DJC at 20:52 on 27 June 2006  Report this post

I too like this very much. You have a real gift for placing the reader at a particular time and in a particular place. There are some lovely turns of phrase here. Very brave to go to a festival with a baby! Toughens them up, I suppose.


Elsie at 19:05 on 29 June 2006  Report this post
Nina, this is very vivid. There is so much going on, and for me it rings bells of being alone with a baby.
I especially found this vivid:

Their sound is a cave of molten gold
feeding a furnace through the base of my chest.

The whole poem creates such an atmosphere, but I can't quite pinpoint which bits are creating it. Well done.

joanie at 19:21 on 29 June 2006  Report this post
Hi Nina. I'm late, I know. I haven't even attempted this exercise yet; shame on me! I just feel a dream-like quality here; that scary drifting in and out of 'sense'. I remember having the most awful nightmares after the birth of my first child.

My sonís body feels peaceful.
I sigh into him,
soothed by his sleeping beauty.
sorts it all out.

I really like the last stanza; the question mark image is excellent!

'this dismal ledge' is quite a mind-blowing thing!!

I enjoyed the read.


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