Monday, April 16, 2012

Dreamers build cities without engineers

Marge Nelk, "Possible Worlds"

I am interested in how worlds are made. Dreaming, we are constantly present at the creation of cities, pleasure palaces and freak shows. Consciously or unconsciously, our dreams may become the building blocks of worlds that will outlive what made them.  We design our homes in the afterlife from these materials.
     To grasp the mechanics of this kind of reality construction, we need poetic consciousness. Let's start with an excerpt from a poem titled "Dreams" by the great Polish poet Wisława Szymborska. 


Despite the geologists’ knowledge and craft,
mocking magnets, graphs, and maps—
in a split second the dream
piles before us mountains as stony
as real life.

And since mountains, then valleys, plains
with perfect infrastructures.
Without engineers, contractors, workers,
bulldozers, diggers, or supplies—
raging highways, instant bridges,
thickly populated pop-up cities.

Without directors, megaphones, and cameramen—
crowds knowing exactly when to frighten us
and when to vanish.

Without architects deft in their craft,
without carpenters, bricklayers, concrete pourers—
on the path a sudden house just like a toy,
and in it vast halls that echo with our steps
and walls constructed out of solid air.

Not just the scale, it’s also the precision—
a specific watch, an entire fly,
on the table a cloth with cross-stitched flowers,
a bitten apple with teeth marks.

-  The complete version of this poem by the Polish poet and Nobel laureate, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak, appeared in the September 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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