Readings: Weeks 11-13
Versions of Revolt. "And I Will War" (Byron - R) - YT LL "The Fight Song" (Marilyn Manson) - [we may also look briefly at YT "Strange Fruit (Blood on the Leaves)"] - ♫ LL "I’ve Got Life" (Hill) - ♫ "El Puro No Hay Futuro" / "There’s No Future in Purity" ("Futuro," Jarabe de Palo - R)
When Hell Breaks Loose. "Unto the Breach" (from Henry V - R ) - "Dulce et Decorum Est" & "Anthem for Doomed Youth" ("Dulce" & "Anthem," Wilfred Owen - R) - ♫ LL "Us and Them" (Pink Floyd) - ♫ LL "Roads to Moscow" (Al Stewart)
Dust & Stardust. "Dust" & "Dream" (from Hamlet - R) - "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer" ("Astronomer," Walt Whitman - R) - ♫ LL"Brain Damage" & LL "Eclipse" (Pink Floyd) - ♫ “Comme Un Lego” / “Like Lego” (“Lego,” Alain Bashung - R) - ♫ LL "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Queen) - ♫ "Una Breve Vacanza" / "A Short Vacation" ("Vacanza," Nina Zilli - R)
And I Will War (Byron, from Don Juan, Canto 9, 1823)
Byron lived during the Romantic Age, but also in what some refer to as The Age of Revolution — because of the American Revolution in 1776, the French Revolution in 1789, Haiti in 1791, Hidalgo, Bolívar, and Martín in Latin America c. 1810-1830, etc.
After many travels, Don Juan arrives in the Russia of Catherine the Great (1729-1796), an autocrat praised by Voltaire in the 18th C. (although after the French Revolution in 1789 she banned his writings). The "immortal Peter" is Peter the Great (1672-1725). Both leaders were progressive and pro-European, although serfdom wasn't abolished till 1861. Slavery was abolished in England in 1807, in the British Empire in 1831, in the U.S. after the Civil War (1861-5), and in Brazil in 1888.
Our hero (and, I trust, kind reader! yours)
Was left upon his way to the chief city
Of the immortal Peter's polished boors,
Who still have shown themselves more brave than witty.
I know its mighty Empire now allures
Much flattery — even Voltaire's, and that's a pity.
For me, I deem an absolute autocrat
Not a barbarian, but much worse than that.
And I will war, at least in words (and — should
My chance so happen — deeds), with all who war
With Thought; — and of Thought's foes by far most rude,
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are.
I know not who may conquer: if I could
Have such a prescience, it should be no bar
To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation
Of every despotism in every nation.
It is not that I adulate* the people: * fawn over
Without me, there are demagogues enough,
And infidels, to pull down every steeple,
And set up in their stead some proper stuff.
Whether they may sow scepticism to reap Hell,
As is the Christian dogma rather rough,
I do not know; — I wish men to be free
As much from mobs as kings — from you as me.
The consequence is, being of no party,
I shall offend all parties: — never mind!
My words, at least, are more sincere and hearty
Than if I sought to sail before the wind.
He who has nought to gain can have small art: he
Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind,
May still expatiate freely, as will I,
Nor give my voice to slavery's jackal cry.
The oldest American fight song is “For Boston” (T. J. Hurley, 1885). It’s the sports team song for Boston College (a prestigious Jesuit college) and goes like this: “We sing our proud refrain / For Boston, for Boston / ‘Tis wisdom's earthly fame / For here are all one / And our hearts are true / And the towers on the heights / Reach the heavens’ own blue / For Boston, for Boston / Till the echoes ring again / For Boston, for Boston / Thy glory is our own / For Boston, for Boston / ‘Tis here that truth is known / And ever with a right / Shall our heirs be found / Till time shall be no more / And thy work is crowned / For Boston, for Boston / Thy glory is our own.”
How does Manson’s fight song differ from the one above?
What is the level of rebellion in Byron, Manson, Hill, and Jarabe de Palo?
How would you compare their sociopolitical strategies?
What strategy does Jarabe de Palo use to make a point about history and race?
En Lo Puro No Hay Futuro (Jarabe de Palo, 2003) - There's No Future in Purity (trans. RC)
En lo puro no hay futuro / la pureza está en la mezcla / en la mezcla de lo puro / que antes que puro fue mezcla ❧ In the pure there is no future / purity is in mixture / in the mix of the pure / which before purity was mixture
Mi tío era mi primo / de un amigo de mi abuelo / que era indio americano / que se había enamorado / de una tico patuá / que nació en una goleta / abarrotada de esclavos / que se Jamaica robaron ❧ My uncle was my cousin / from a friend of my grandfather / who was American Indian / who had fallen in love / with a tico patuá [Costa Rican creole] / who was born in a schooner / crammed with slaves / that they stole from Jamaica
La madre de mi tío / se casó con un gitano / que tocaba la guitarra / con seis dedos en la mano / y acompañaba a un payo / que cantaba bulerías / con un negro de Chicago / que decía ser su hermano ❧ The mother of my uncle / married a gypsy / who played guitar / with six fingers on his hand / accompanied by a farmer / who sang bulerías [flamenco] / with a Black from Chicago / who said he was his brother
Dicen que mi abuelo / era un rubio bananero / que a Cuba llegó de España / pa quedarse en La Habana / y que yendo pa Santiago / conoció a una mulata / mezcla de tabaco y caña / que en francés a él le hablaba ❧ They say that my grandfather / was a blond banana-seller / who came to Cuba from Spain / to stay in Havana / and passing by Santiago / met a mulatta / mix of tobacco and sugarcane / who spoke to him in French
Je voulais parler français / asi le decía mi abuelo / mulatta color café / le hablaba frances (?) / en la mezcla este lo puro / vous parlez français (ne ne ne ?) / mi abuelo le contestó / tacó tacó tacó (?) ❧ I wanted to speak French / that's what my grandfather said / coffee-coloured mulatto / he spoke to her in French (?) / in mixture is purity / you speak French (boy?) / my grandfather answered her / (?)
What role does patriotism play in "Unto the Breach”? How does Owen argue against using patriotism to glorify war? How does Pink Floyd use oppositions, such as up and down? Is there a pattern?
For “Roads to Moscow,” I suggest looking up blitzkrieg, Operation Barbarossa, and the German invasion of Russia in 1941. How does Stewart combine personal narrative with the use of space (European geography) and time (military history)? How does he use shifts in music and instrumentation? What does he mean by “an avenger” and “Holy Russia”?
Unto the Breach (Henry V 3.1)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage [carrying] of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galléd [eroded] rock
O’erhang and jutty [jut out from] his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet [made] from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you called fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
Dulce et Decorum Est (Wilfred Owen, 1917-18)
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.*
* From the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”
Anthem for Doomed Youth (Wilfred Owen, 1917)
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Dust (from Hamlet 2.2)
[…] it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Dream (from Hamlet 3.1)
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance [perhaps] to dream: ay, there’s the rub;*
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,*
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man's contumely,*
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus* make
With a bare bodkin?* who would fardels* bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn*
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er* with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith* and moment*
With this regard their currents turn awry,*
And lose the name of action.
*rub = crucial difficulty or problem *coil = coil or confusion, turmoil *contumely = insolence or insulting language *quietus = death, release (soothing) *bodkin = small sharp instrument or pin to pierce clothing *fardels = burdens *bourn = boundary line, limit; also, goal or destination *sicklied o'er [over] = lacking vigour or strength (weakened) *pith = essence; also, forceful and precise expression *moment = importance *awry = off course
When I Heard the Learned Astronomer (Walt Whitman, 1867)
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured
with much applause in the lecture room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars
(cartoon version at http://zenpencils.com/comic/88-walt-whitman-when-i-heard-the-learnd-astronomer/)
Comme un Lego (Alain Bashung, 2008) / Like Lego (trans. RC)
C'est un grand terrain de nulle part / Avec de belles poignées d'argent / La lunette d'un microscope / Et tous ces petits êtres qui courent ❧ It's a great stretch of nowhere / With great fistfs full of money / The lense of a microscope / And all these little beings that run
Car chacun vaque à son destin / Petits ou grands / Comme durant des siècles égyptiens / Péniblement ❧ Because each one follows his destiny / Little or big / Like during the Egyptian centuries / With difficulty
À porter mille fois son poids sur lui / Sous la chaleur et dans le vent / Dans le soleil ou dans la nuit / Voyez-vous ces êtres vivants? ❧ Carrying a thousand times his own weight / Under the heat or in the wind / In the sunlight or in the night / Do you see these living beings? (X2)
Quelqu'un a inventé ce jeu / Terrible, cruel, captivant / Les maisons, les lacs, les continents / Comme un lego avec du vent ❧ Someone has invented this game / Terrible, cruel, captivating / The houses, the lakes, the continents / Like lego with wind
La faiblesse des tout-puissants / Comme un lego avec du sang / La force décuplée des perdants / Comme un lego avec des dents / Comme un lego avec des mains / Comme un lego ❧ The weakness of the all-powerful / Like lego with blood / With tenfold the strength of the losers / Like lego with teeth / Like lego with hands / Like lego
Voyez-vous tous ces humains? / Danser ensemble à se donner la main / S'embrasser dans le noir à cheveux blonds / A ne pas voir demain comme ils seront ❧ Do you see all these humans? / Dancing together, joining hands / Embracing each other in the dark with their blond hair / So as not to see what they will be tomorrow
Car si la terre est ronde / Et qu'ils s'y agrippent / Au delà c'est le vide / Assis devant le restant d'une portion de frites / Noir sidéral et quelques plats d'amibes ❧ Because if the earth is round / And they're clinging to it / On the other side is the void / Sitting before the remainder of a portion of french fries / Starry black and some plates of amoeba
Les capitales sont toutes les mêmes devenues / Aux facettes d'un même miroir / Vêtues d'acier, vêtues de noir / Comme un lego mais sans mémoire ❧ The capitals have all become the same / With facets of the same mirror / Dressed in steel, dressed in black / Like lego but without memory (X2)
Pourquoi ne me réponds-tu jamais? / Sous ce manguier de plus de dix mille pages / À te balancer dans cette cage ❧ Why do you never answer me? / Under this mango tree of more than ten thousand pages / Rocking yourself back and forth in this cage
A voir le monde de si haut / Comme un damier, comme un lego / Comme un imputrescible radeau / Comme un insecte mais sur le dos ❧ Seeing the world from so high up / Like a checkerboard, like a lego / Like an imperishable raft / Like an insect but on its back
C'est un grand terrain de nulle part / Avec de belles poignées d'argent / La lunette d'un microscope / On regarde, on regarde, on regarde dedans ❧ It's a great stretch of nowhere / With great fists full of money / The lens of a microscope / We look, we look, we look within
On voit de toutes petites choses qui luisent / Ce sont des gens dans des chemises / Comme durant ces siècles de la longue nuit / Dans le silence ou dans le bruit ❧ We see all the little things that shine / These are some people in their shirts / Just as during those centuries of the long night / In silence or in noise
Una Breve Vacanza (Nina Zilli) / A Short Vacation (trans. R.C.)
Meglio così / Camminare sospesa / A passo lento / Tra finito e infinito / Nel breve spazio / Che contiene un minuto / Quella vita che morde / La sua coda di serpente / E per infinite volte / Un'altra volta ricomincerà ❧ Better this way / To walk suspended / At a slow pace / Between the finite and infinity / In the brief space / A minute holds / This life that eats / It’s own serpent’s tail / And for the nth time / Once more it will start again
Meglio così / Siamo fatti per non rimanere / Meglio così / Perché dire per sempre è banale / Ogni esistenza è un incidente casuale / Ho cercato di vivere tutto ma come si fa / Se la vita è una breve vacanza dall'eternità / Godo di questo intervallo / Fino al mio ultimo giorno passato qui ❧ Better this way / We’re not made to remain / Better this way / Because saying “forever” is banal / Every life is a lucky chance / I tried to live it all but how can you / If life is a brief vacation from eternity / I enjoy this interlude / Until my final day spent here
Meglio così / Rimanere in sospeso / Senza sapere / Cosa sarebbe stato / Andare via / Non è sempre una fuga / Ma è partire per un viaggio / Solo per poter viaggiare / Con il pretesto di una meta / Che non è nient'altro che un miraggio ❧ Better like this / To stay suspended / Without knowing / What would have been / To go away / Isn’t always to escape / But it's to go on a voyage / For the sake of the voyage / With the pretext of a destination / Which is nothing but a mirage
Meglio così / Consumarsi in un lampo veloce / Nell'imperfetta geometria di un / passaggio fugace / Dietro di noi / Particelle di ombre di luce / Ogni amore vissuto è l'amore più bello del mondo / Ma riparte per altri naufràgi il mio cuor vagabondo / Giuro che non è mai facile / Ma quando diventa passato è meglio così ❧ Better this way / To burn up in a lightning flash / In the imperfect geometry of a / fleeting passage / Behind us / Particles of shadows of light / Each of our past loves is the most beautiful love in the world / But my vagabond heart sets off for other shipwrecks / I swear it’s never easy / But when it’s over it’s better this way
Ogni amore vissuto è l'amore più bello del mondo / Ma riparte per altri naufràgi il mio cuor vagabondo / Giuro che non è mai facile / Giuro / Giuro che non è mai facile / Ma quando diventa passato è meglio così ❧ Each of our past loves is the most beautiful love in the world / But my vagabond heart sets off for other shipwrecks / I swear it’s never easy / I swear / I swear it’s never easy / But when it’s over it’s better this way