Friday, January 26, 2007

Mezzanine

This poem has been translated from the original Perovian by Robert Trellisand and Maria Esdovin. As a Perovian speaker, and poet in her own right, Maria has been invaluable in helping Robert to produce the English version.

Noise's buildings have been largely industrial and domestic, innovating housing complexes and ergonomic plants for light manufacturing, but his early work was revolutionary.
It is said that he never fully forgave the authorities for rejecting his design for a building consisting entirely of Mezzanine floors.
In this poem, which is clrealy linked to that experience, Vecute's political reference are covert and extremely difficult for an English reader. The poem has nonetheless started to gain an underground audience, and it is hoped that a full annotated version will appear soon.



Mezzanine

It’s still there in the depths of me,
not far from the garden with its worn
grass and single tree:

it’s a storey on which many storeys
have been built – each year another story.
Tall and grey-clad now
I sway gently, imperceptibly
with the tremors and air-
disturbances of time.

In the depths of me, still there
and difficult to reach, since
all the lift operators were fired
and Maintenance were relocated –
and the stairs are dangerous!
On some of those middle floors
I wouldn’t linger, what with
well – you know – the rats
and the graffiti. I mean
the graffiti on the wall
and the rats on the bed:
those half-way-ups, where,
sucked away by the updraft,
towels disappear from window-sills.

It’s difficult to get back
to where I want to be,
and then – once there – I might not get back up
if my knee’s playing up.

Yes – it’s still there, a gentle curve of curtain,
those real brick walls,
multifarious brick, orange
and yellow and oddly tinged
as bricks are. Good old brick,
decent and honest – that’s what I miss!

It’s not the first floor
the one I’m telling you about;
it’s one up from adolescence,
or is it one down?

Any rate, it’s not
the central storeys that interest me, nor these
wind-buffeted facades up here,
where – to be frank with yer –
what goes round comes around.

Ah! If only I could get back
down there
down to my mezzanine
where you can talk to people from the balcony
or, if they’re playing football
with their kids,
just smile or do something
friendly and ironic with your eyebrows.

I’ve grown from the ground up
each year a little further
and – build we must – so I must live
with the building I’ve become,
realising I’m descended
from what’s below – what
was that Wordsworthian dictum?

Ah, Yes – the mezzanine
that’s what I was:
a balcony full of Summer
a ledge-full of scents:
the people who dwelled in me, friend and foe….
I remember once, one evening,
just before it rained,
somebody I once knew
succeeded in getting a glass of wine
out of the window, offering it down
in carnival gesture, as the taker
reached up from the… ground.


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2 comments:

Plutarch said...

Was it Robert or Maria, who, according to the story that I heard when I was last in Pero, originally wanted the line in the last stanza to read " a ledge full of sense"? The story may have come from Bob's unpublished Memoire provisonally entitled Mezzanine Mezzaten. Apparently in the last resort the translators agreed that "scents" made more sense.

Lucas said...

Thanks for this revealing comment.
Robert has confirmed that when the poem was first published in the June 1968 issue of Pero-Xide(Vol.4 Number 16)it did indeed have the word "sense" instead of "scents" which came in the subsequent versions.
Rob is working on an entry for Wikipedia, in which he promises to address the issue in the detail that it deserves. Maria texted Noise who - typically - chooses to remain silent.