TO THE WAVERER

You say:
Things are going badly for our cause.
The darkness grows. Our powers decline.
Now, after toiling for so many years
We are in a worse position than at the beginning.

But our enemy is stronger than ever.
His powers, it seems, have grown. He begins to look invincible.
Oh we have made mistakes, there’s no denying it.
Our numbers dwindle rapidly.
Our precepts are in confusion. Some of our words
Have been twisted by the enemy beyond recognition.

What is now false of what we once said
Some of it or all of it?
On whom can we still rely? Are we who remain just flotsam, thrown
Out of the living stream? Will we live on
Understanding nobody and understood by none?
Is it luck that we need?

So you ask. Expect
No other answer than your own!

Bertold Brecht, circa 1935


PODVIZI DRUŽINE “PET PETLIĆA”
(Šesto pevanje U KOME SE VIDI…)

Uzalud sad ljute tate
pozivaju advokate,
zalud trče vatrogasci
i gamižu policajci,
mnogobrojni ko Kitajci,
zalud neko iz Zemuna,
levo, desno, dole, gore,
pušta svake crne noći,
punom parom sve do zore,
jednooke, džinooke,
sjajnooke
reflektore.

Uzalud sad brižne mame
preturaju sve fioke,
slamarice pune slame,
vešernice, kupatila,
i špajzove, gde salame
besno vise usred tame.
Uzalud sad kuvarice
obaraju tešku burad
i nabrekle, pune kace,
i sanjive sobarice
iz kreveta žurno vade
prekrivače i madrace.

Zalud tužni baštovani
ošišaše rosne trave,
posekoše bajne grane,
počupaše jorgovane,
i svud gde u vrtu zjapi
pukotina ili rupa
promoliše sve do trupa
zabrinute svoje glave.

Zalud sada jetke tetke,
ljute kao oštre četke,
kroz ograde i rešetke
proturaju žuta lica,
puna modrih bradavica.
Zalud žure, zalud jure,
drhtave ko slabe biljke,
liticama Kal’megdana,
i šuškaju pune straha
kraj redova starih klupa,
gde igraju deca šaha,
gde igraju deca piljke,
gde igraju deca mice.

Zalud lete golubovi,
prepredene pismonoše,
dresirane rulje pasa
koje njuše svako ćoše,
soko-ptice, avioni,
tenkovi i luftbaloni. . .
Sve je zalud, jer petliće
uhvatiti niko neće. . .

Aleksandar Vučo, 1933


Reality is like the serious white clown.
It seems earnest and logical.
Circumspect and prudent.
But in the final analysis it is reality that looks the fool, the object of derision.
Its partner, Chaplin, guileless and childlike, comes out on top.
He laughs carelessly without even noticing that his laugh slays reality.

Sergei Eisenstein, 1943


HOW SHE BOWED TO HER BROTHER

The story of how she bowed to her brother.
Who has whom as his.
Did she bow to her brother. When she saw him.
Any long story. Of how she bowed to her brother.
Sometimes not.
She bowed to her brother. Accidentally. When she saw him.
Often as well. As not.
She did not. Bow to her brother. When she. Saw him.
This could happen. Without. Him.
Everybody finds in it a sentence that pleases them.
This is the story included in. How she bowed to her brother.
Could another brother have a grand daughter.
No. But. He could have a grandson.
This has nothing to do with the other brother of whom it is said that we read she bowed to her brother.
There could be a union between reading and learning.
And now everybody. Reads. She bowed. To her brother.
And no one. Thinks.
Thinks that it is clearly. Startling.
She started. By not bowing. To her brother.
And this was not the beginning.
She has forgotten.
How she bowed. To her brother.
And. In mentioning. She did mention. That this was. A recollection.
For fortunately. In detail. Details were given.
Made an expression. Of recollection.
Does whether. They gather. That they heard. Whether. They bowed. To each other. Or not.
If in. They made it. Doubtful. Or double. Of their holding it. A momentary after. That she was never. Readily made rather. That they were. Whether. She asked her. Was she doing anything. Either.
In all this there lay. No description. And so. Whether. They could come to be nearly. More. Than more. Or rather. Did she. Bow to her brother.

PART II

They were a few. And they knew. Not that. She had bowed. To her brother. There were
not. A few. Who knew. That she. Had. Bowed to her brother. Because if they knew.
They would say. That a few. Knew. That she. Had bowed to her brother. But
necessarily. Not a few. Knew. They did. Not know. Because they. Were not there. There
are not a few. Who are there. Because. Nobody. Was there. Nor did. She know. That
she was there. To help to share. And they can. Be there. To tell. Them. So. That. They
know. She bowed. To her brother. More. There. Than. There.

III

It might be easily pointed out. By the chance. Of a. Wish. No wish.
He might. Not wish. Not to. Be easily. Pointed out. By no. Wish.
Which they. Might easily.
Not be pointed. Out. As. A and not. The wish.
It is not. To be. Pointed out. That. There. Is. No wish.
Not. A wish.
She bowed to her brother. Was not easily. Pointed out. And. No wish.
Which it. And easily. Pointed out. And. No. Wish.
She and. No wish. Which is. Not easily pointed out. And. So which. They. And. No wish. Which. And not. Easily pointed out. She bowed to her brother. And no wish. And no wish. And not. Easily pointed out. And no. Wish.
For them. Which. To wish. Not. Which. Easily. Pointed out. And. No wish. Which. She. No wish. Easily pointed out.
Which. She easily pointed out. Which. She bowed to her brother. And. Which.
If she had been likely to restate that doors which relate an advantage to their advancing. And not at all. As a coincidence.
She bowed to her brother. This was a chance. That might have happened. Minutely.
To interrupt a white dog. Who can occasionally.
In instance
No once counts alike
She bowed to her brother. For. And. Counts alike.
She bowed. To her brother. Could be lost. By their leaving. It as lost. By. The time. In which. They feel. They will. It is. Indebted. That able. Presence. As very much. And idle. If she were walking along. She would be. She would not. Bow to her brother. If she were riding. Along. She would. Be. She would. Be. Not as bowing. To her. Brother.
As she rode along. Easily. By driving. As she rode. Along. She. Bowed. To her brother.
It is. True. As. She drove. Along. She. Bowed. To her brother.
Just like that.
She bowed. To her brother.
They were. There. That is to say. They were. Passing there. They were passing there. But not. On that day. And with this. To say. It was said. She bowed. To her brother. Which was. A fact.
If she bowed. To her brother. Which was. A fact. That is. If she bowed. Which. If she bowed. Which she did. She bowed to her brother.
Which she did. She bowed to her brother. Or rather. Which she did. She bowed to her brother. Or rather which she did she bowed to her brother.
She could think. Of how she was. Not better. Than when. They could say. Not. How do you do. To-day. Because. It is an accident. In suddenness. When there is. No stress. On their. Address. They do not address you. By saying. Rather. That they went by. And came again. Not. As. Or. Why.
It is. What is. Even. Not always occurred. Just by the time. That it. Can happen. To be curious. She bowed. To her brother. And why. Again. In there. Should have been. Not more. Than. That. Which. She bowed. To her brother.
By which. It is. In tendency. To more. By which. It is. In tendency to not. Have had. She in the. Three. She bowed. To her brother.
Would it be. In a way. Not they. Would. Not. They. Be in a way that is. To say. She. Is to say. Did. She bow. To her brother. In. Which way. Did. She come to say. It was. That way.
She bowed to her brother.
If it was. Separately. Not. To separate. Separately. No one. Is there. But there. Was it. With them. As perhaps. Portions. For there. Which. In which. She bowed to her brother.
Not. After. In intention. The same. As mention. She did not mention. Nor was there. Intention. That she. Bowed to her brother.
She bowed to her brother.

Gertrude Stein, 1931


O SOMMA LUCE

O highest light that so much lift thyself
above mortal concepts, to my mind
relend a little of how you appeared,
and make my tongue so strong,
that just a spark of thy glory
can remain for future people;
for, by returning a bit to my memory
and by sounding a little in these verses,
more will be conceived of thy victory.

I believe, through the insight I suffered
from the living ray, that I’d have been lost,
if my eyes had been averted from it.

And I remember I was more ardent
therefore to sustain it, so much that I joined
my gaze with the infinite value.

O abundant grace whence I presumed
to fix my face on the eternal light,
so much that my sight was consumed there!

In its depths I saw confined,
linked with love in one volume,
that which through
the universe is scattered:
substance and accidents and their customs
almost conflated together, in such a way
that what I say is but one simple glimmer.

The Universal form of this knot
I believe I saw; because more than large,
in saying this, is the pleasure I feel.

One bit of it alone is for me more numbing
than 25 centuries to the enterprise
that made Neptune admire the shade of Argo.

Thus my mind, all suspended,
gazed fixedly, immobile and attentive,
and always gazing made it bright.

To that light so attached one becomes,
that to turn from it to look elsewhere
is impossible ever to consent to;
because the Good, the goal of the will,
is all gathered up in it, and outside it
is defective what in it is perfect.

Now will be more short my speech,
even of what I remember, than that of an infant
that still bathes its tongue on the breast.

Not because more than a simple semblance
were in the living light I gazed at,
which is always what it was before;
but by the sight that confirmed itself
in me looking, one sole appearance that,
while I was changing, changed for me.

In the profound and clear subsistence
of the high light appeared to me three circles
of three colours and of one circumference;
and one by another like rainbow by rainbow
seemed reflected, and the third appeared fire
that from one to other equally breathed.

O how pale is speech and how inadequate
for my concept! and, compared to what I saw,
so feeble that it’s not enough to call it “little.”

O eternal light that dwell alone in thyself,
alone understand thyself, and in knowing thyself,
love and smile on thyself!

That circulation, so conceived,
appeared in thee like reflected light,
to my eyes somewhat circumspect,
within itself, with its own colour,
appeared to me painted with our effigy:
wherefore my gaze in it was all absorbed.

Like the geometer who totally torments himself
to square the circle, and doesn’t find,
by thinking, the principle he needs,
so was I at this new vision:
I wished to see how conformed
the image to the circle and put itself there.

But not for this were my own wings:
had not my mind been struck
by lightning by which its wish came too.

For high imagination here my powers lacked;
but already there were turning
my desire and will,
just like a wheel which is evenly moved,
the love that moves the sun and the other stars.

Dante Alighieri, 1320

(translated by Misha Donat and Jean-Marie Straub in 2009,
based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s rendition from 1867)