Poetry situated in South-East Asia.
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Poems about travels through South-Asia: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and especially Indonesia. The structure of the book is based upon Buddhist temple Borobudur in Java (Indonesia). Each poem has the same form, corresponding with the identically shaped reliefs of Borobudur.
Tropical Drift consists of 7 groups of 3-6-9-12-9-6-3-poems, also based upon Borobudur.
Translator John Irons was born in the English town of Harrogate in 1942 and studied modern languages at Cambridge, before doing research in Dutch and completing his doctorate on The development of Imagery in the Poetry of P.C. Boutens. He moved to Scandinavia in 1968 and has lived most of the time since then in the Danish city of Odense. He has been active as a translator of poetry for many years. His translations of Dutch poetry include such writers as Hugo Claus, Albert Hagenaars, Gerrit Komrij and Rutger Kopland. He is also a regular contributor to Poetry International in Rotterdam.
THE TEMPLE OF POETRY
Sharper than your angry, whispering voice
the night’s ray of truth strikes across the world
in my head, over the soaked cortex of language,
where the men who I am think they are sleeping.
Its azure light lays bare many milligrammes,
the drifting of Phytocalm and Temazepam,
forcing a path to the waving valerian
where the teacher on his blackboard calculates
the distance to the Southern Cross, to which
the temple is oriented. He dissects what the mother daily
made her son pray on four knees, and disclaims
every form of side effects, in everyone’s interest.
She illuminates his hand, already feeling for a stick,
the quicklime of his voice, his dry mouth
that assumes the form for the sweeter words
of the lover, gasping in tugged-tight sheets.
She opens his eyes full of faith, unfolds fists,
strips him of family, the meaning of names.
He tosses and turns, licks their nerves compulsively,
lies with his body that splits up in longing.
And transilluminates them: the mother with the coarse nipples,
the Lady on the medallion, the women next door with
her hands full of soapsuds, the girl in the ruined park.
And you. He takes love as his love for less.
Deep, yet deeper, breaking anew in the most silent
of this building full of denials and fear,
it coincides with its origin, the poet’s head
where there’s raging and paging.
We’ve been tired for so long, want to dream on
but he bides his time beyond the ticking, the chiming,
writes about both, unveils the secret of mother and
son, disguises and makes them up as father and daughter.
When dawn comes he leaves, leaves us his card,
the unpaid leave from the winter wounds at home.
We do not wish to quit the temple that should stand here
in the wood. Overgrown, untraceably, must exist.