A while ago we had dinner at Mali & Giora’s. Mali showed us a drawing — the bird in the photo — and three poems by Nina, her talented 13 year old granddaughter. I understood (and liked) one of the poems. It was simple, transparent, and it rhymed. I did not understand the other two. They were in white verse, more symbolic maybe, I’m not sure.
A long time ago, when I was a young man in Romania and while only beginning to learn English, I went to the public library to attempt to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the original. Later that week I was going to see that same play performed by The Royal Shakespeare Company of London, in a rare appearance in Bucharest. I remember how much I liked what I read (most probably only a few pages), even without knowing most of the words. I didn’t understand, but I experienced no frustration, only lightness, as if I was miraculously elevated by greatness.
I had similar feelings when reading Nina’s poems I didn’t understand. There was no shame of not getting a 13 year old. Just recognition of something deeper than the power of my own thoughts, and the realization that I need to work at unraveling poetry in English.
In Romanian I have the background (I know the classics), and the experience. I “immerse” myself — in Romanian. I have to learn to immerse myself in English as well. To let go. It’s not that I don’t try, but maybe I don’t try enough. I’ll try again, and again. I have to. Poetry will help my prose.
Cats and dogs can be friends…