Saturday, April 17, 2010

Every Woman Loves a Russian Poet

Velimir Khlebnikov

It's true you know every woman falls victim to the curse of the Russian poet. I found Khlebnikov devouring some poetry in an antiquated bookstore. At first he seems a little sing songy and was known in his time (the 1800's) as the purveyor of unintelligible verbal trickery. In other words? He made up words to rhyme other words, like a song of sorts and when I read his work I enjoy it even more if I sing it like a prayer or a song making up my own little tune the sing of the waxwings. Waxwings are song birds that almost look like a cardinal a duller color perhaps with a huge plume of feathers on their heads.

Like his American female counterpart; Dickinson he wrote of nature more than of people. I have a theory about this. I want to believe he was well loved or that his love life was at the least interesting. When I am in the midst of a lover's turmoil I write of men. When I am in love I write of nature when I'm unsure of either it's a strange mix of the two. This poet writes of nature often and of venturing into the Russian markets which at the time must have been fascinating.

He was an educated man, hence my fascination. I do like a smart man. Give me a smart man that can do push ups over the top of me and I am caught in his web, no matter what that web may be.

Khlebnikov belonged to the most significant Russian Futurist group Hylaea (along with Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksei Kruchenykh, David Burliuk, and Benedikt Livshits), but had already written many significant poems before the Futurist movement in Russia had taken shape. Among his contemporaries, he was regarded as "a poet's poet" (Mayakovsky referred to him as a "poet for producers") and a maverick genius.

In 1912 he wrote:

When horses die, they breathe
When grasses die, they wither,
When suns die, they go out,
When people die, they sing songs.

I like this poem a great deal and I am not the fan of the short poem for the most part. It reminds me of Sandburg's white horse girl and blue wind boy. I love the idea that in the lines you can read that when something, anything dies it just becomes something else. I have had a fascination with this lately, seeing as I've danced a little with the idea of death and everyone who does that enjoys the idea that perhaps we will just be something else rather than cosmic soul dust. What song would you sing when you die? I think I'd sing the song of the lilly of the valleys that deck my garden walk. Oh don't you wish you could hear them ring? That will only happen when the faeries sing. When I am with Best Friend I like to sing Paul Simon songs and I wish I was with her today, on the road singing Simon and Garfunkel until we were exhausted.

I included a few poems below, but didn't put out the laughter people for the hopes you'd look for it and find something of Khlebnikov's work you'd keep for yourself, read and sing and dance in his idea of what a future would be if he were king, King of Russia and King of the world. Enjoy.

Where The Waxwings Used To Dwell

Where the waxwings used to dwell,
Where the pine trees softly swayed,
A flock of airy momentwills
Flew around and flew away.
Where the pine trees softly whooshed
Where the warblewings sang out
A flock of airy momentwills
Flew around and flew about.
In wild and shadowy disarray
Among the ghosts of bygone days,
Wheeled and tintinnabulated.
A flock of airy momentwills
A flock of airy momentwills!
You're warblewingish and beguilish,
You besot my soul like strumming,
Like a wave invade my heart!
Go on, ringing warblewings,
Long live airy momentwills!

Velimir Khlebnikov


Wind Is Song

Wind is song
Of whom and of what?
Of the sword's longing
To be the word.
cherish the day of death
Like a favorite daisy.
Believe that the strings of the great
Are strummed by the East these days.
Perhaps we'll be given new pride
By the wizard of those shining mountains,
And I, of many souls captain,
Will wear a white snowcap of reason.

Another Russian Poet

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