Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Pia Tafdrup: Over the Water I Walk - 3


The Romantics and their successors maintained that inspiration is the making visible of a whole. I would say: if not a whole, then at least a glimpsed connection between things that normally appear to be separate. The Romantics were able to set their sights on an order that was already given. The task today is, for a moment, to create order in chaos, for no whole is any longer apparent.


It is almost becoming a dogma that art must arise from within. In certain cases, though, there is a freedom in allowing oneself to be bound by an idea that comes from outside. Someone wants something of me, and this expectation can sometimes take me further than I myself would have dared. There needs to be a dialectic involved: I must be able to illuminate the idea. Thus in a way to work outwards from inner stimuli...


I can adopt a seeking stance, or try to summon something forth, which is the same thing. If inspiration is to be present, what is involved is a sharpened attention, a special way of living. I write because I cannot help it. Either through fate or unwittingly, I have spent my whole life preparing for this. I am seen. So there is no way back.


Either I go out of myself and let myself be swallowed up by the alien other, or I receive the alien other into myself. The first movement dominates mostly in childhood and youth, the second in adult life. The ideal is to be able to do both, and what is involved is of course only a spiritual dimension. To devote oneself to the world is a precondition for being able to create a world. I receive the world into me at the same time as I exist in the world, and I produce a world at the same time as I exist in the midst of the world.


Without a beating heart, no poetry. Even the poems that express absence or emptiness are like the moment of falling in love -- if not an expression of the imparting of meaning, then at least an attempt to keep meaninglessness at bay. For falling in love and the situation of writing contain something inside them...

translated from Danish by David McDuff

Over the Water I Walk - 1
Over the Water I Walk -2

1 comment:

Eric Dickens said...

Tafdrup talks a lot of sense in these passages. There is no obscure vocabulary and Pseuds Corner intellectualising, simply a description of the feel of the first germ of the poem.

I still claim that similar ruminations on the act of translation would be interesting, given the fact that translation depends heavily on someone else's work, which original writing does not or, via intertextuality, in a different way.

How much is translation also a problem area involving yourself, the world and others? Quite a lot, as you are in a sense getting under the skin of the culture of another country, then trying to reproduce the feel of it in your own language.

Without a beating heart, no translation.