In an earlier post, Bobbie talked about our thinking about the shootings in Connecticut and just how one goes on creatively in the aftermath of such horror.
Theodor Adorno, who wrote, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” was center stage.
Below is a poem that Adorno discusses in the critical essay in which he wrote that sentence. (For the truly intrepid, a link to that essay is right here.) It is by Eduardo Morike, and this translation is by Charles L. Cingolani. (Link here.)
On a Walking Tour
I enter Into a friendly town,
Where streets reflect the red evening glow.
From an open window
Down across the richest flower carpet one hears
Golden sounds like a bell drifting in the air,
And a single voice seems like a nightingale choir,
Making the blossoms quiver,
Bringing the air to life,
So that the red of roses glow richer yet.
Amazed I stand there long, frightful in my joy.
How I got outside the gate,
In truth I know it not.
Ah here, how the world is bathed in light!
The sky billowing with purple clouds,
Behind me the town in golden haze;
How the brook rushes here, and rushes down at the mill!
How overjoyed I am, how confused —
O Muse, you have reached my heart
With a breath of love!
That we’ll soon be entering into new towns is not lost on me.
In his essay, Adorno focuses on the reflective moment in the poem and how it occurs after the speaker leaves the town, the scene of all this joy. But this isn’t Wordsworth’s emotions recollected in tranquility. This is poetry seen with a Marxist eye, with the town is objectified, the speaker isolated. The attempt to make the feelings — joy, love — real collapses because our actions have proven that we are not capable of such grand gestures. They have proven us to be barbarians.
Posted by Steve