Forward to a Preface July 28, 2014Posted by The Typist in literature, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Ezra Pound, Italy, jet lag, Spain, travel
One of the benefits of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the squirrels don’t give a damn about seven hours of jet lag, or yesterday’s epic 25 our travel day. A man wakes up to pee after a certain amount of sleep, the merciless digital clock reads 8:00 and they leap to their wheels: the squeaks of anxiety over things to be done, the horrible cogs begin to turn. It is 15:30 Central European Summer Time, siesta in Spain but those rules no longer apply. I need a driver’s license to replace the one stolen in Madrid. I have classwork over due. I have no idea what my apartment looks like after leaving my 19-year old son alone for 40 days and 40 nights but I imagine there is enough cat hair in the carpet to knit a sweater and streaks of black mold creeping up the wall in the usual spots.
In short I am up, with coffee: not a proper Spanish con leche, two shots of espresso lathed in frothy milk–a concept I could never quiet communicate in Italy; they always thought I wanted a cappuccino and two espresso, cappuccino and doblio technically correct but as functionally wrong as a Starbuck’s grande–but coffee none the less. The first sips of the first drips take me back in memory to the day before yesterday but I am too tired to call up the phrase for a cafe sin leche(cafe solo; the cogs turn but slowly yet).
I am up in part because of the rigors of castle life. It is idyllic as the pictures suggest but I usually awoke in my room in the croft, a barn converted to a dormitory, by seven a.m. with Ezra Pound’s Cantos of the day on my mind. There were endless notes to transcribe from C.F. Terrell’s Companion to the Cantos, the poem itself thick with Greek and Latin and allusions to the classics, medieval Provençal and Italian history, and modern events. Somewhere in my notes the phrase “[William] Burroughs cut-ups & [John] Dos Passos” appear. While there are powerful and lyrical passages of the poet’s own throughout, so much is an artful crib: the “epic poet” (as the professor referred to him, punning on E.P.) translating beautifully if not faithfully or borrowing heavily from Homer, Dante, Cavalcanti and other medieval and classical sources.
In short, it was a lot of work between tramping over the cobblestones in sight of the mountains spotted with precarious vineyards and coffee, between coffee and stepping into the castle proper for class. I am tanned, bested and unsteady but with the exception of one down day in Barcelona between check-out and my night train to Granada, I have been on the squeaky wheel myself most of the last 40 days and 40 nights, a discipline that will hopefully carry me through jet lag and into a poetry manuscript with preface and an outline of a paper before my library privileges expire tomorrow, through cleaning house, getting a new driver’s license and looking for a job.
Un otro cafe, por favor.