Alien Land

 

Wax-Myrtle-with-Web

Tortures
 
Nothing has changed.
The body is a reservoir of pain;
it has to eat and breathe the air, and sleep,
it has thin skin and the blood is just beneath it;
it has a good supply of teeth and fingernails;
its bones can be broken; its joints can be stretched.
In tortures, all of this is considered.
 
Nothing has changed.
The body still trembles as it trembled
before Rome was founded and after,
in the twentieth century before and after Christ.
Tortures are just what they were, only the earth has shrunk 
and whatever goes on sounds as if it’s just a room away.
 
Nothing has changed.
Except there are more people,
and new offenses have sprung up beside the one ones–
real, make-believe, short-lived, and nonexistent.
But the cry with which the body answers for them 
was, is, and will be a cry of innocence
in keeping with the age-old scale and pitch.
 
Nothing has changed.
Except perhaps the manners, ceremonies, dances.
The gesture of the hands shielding the head
has nonetheless remained the same.
The body writhes, jerks, and tugs,
falls to the ground when shoved, pulls up its knees,
bruises, swells, drools, and bleeds.
 
Nothing has changed.
Except the run of rivers,
the shapes of forests, shores, deserts, and glaciers.
The little soul roams among those landscapes,
disappears, returns, draws near, moves away,
evasive and a stranger to itself,
now sure, now uncertain of its own existence,
whereas the body is and is and is
and has nowhere to go.
~ Wislawa Szymborksa ~
(Poem shared by a friend)

48 Comments on “Alien Land

  1. Your photograph touches the emotions, and reminds me a bit of the Evard Munch painting, The Scream. The Szymborksa poem is raw, and real and terrible, but needed to be written and read. Thank you for posting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Elisa. I agree. I like the poem very much, too. Lemony sent it. She sends some fascinating poetry and links to really interesting stuff all the time. I’m glad you like the photo, too. Always so very good to see you! 🙂

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  2. Your stunning, swirling abstract heightens the impact of that profound poem George. Thank you for introducing me to Wislawa Szymborksa. Hadn’t heard of her before. My loss 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, her world is my world. She articulates what I only know. There are some missing steps in the evolution of our species. Something went terribly awry, I think. I love seeing you again, Madhu! Thank you so very much for visiting me! 🙂

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    • Yeah, Linda. I’m struck by how poorly evolved and adapted we are to exist in our environment. When I watch the dragons, who are so perfectly adapted, I am astounded at how little we have changed. We struggle to adapt our environment to suit us and fail physically and emotionally to evolve or adapt. I am convinced that we did not evolve to live elbow-to-elbow. Convention has hampered human growth and tortured the spirit. Superior intelligence did not serve us well, I think. Chuckle…

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      • It seems we may soon be paying for our poor adaptability. It will be interesting to see what happens to humanity as the climate changes. I suspect neither of us will actually see it.

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        • I know, Linda. We were foolish enough to try to adapt the environment to accommodate us. I cannot imagine how anybody who has a modicum of sense could fail to see what we are doing. California runs out of water this year. Soon, wars will be fought over water instead of oil, I suppose. No, we will not live to see it. Thank goodness! 🙂

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    • Nothing has remained the same except human nature. We skipped a few critical steps in our evolution, I think. Chuckle… We are so poorly evolved to live in our environment compared to other species…like the perfectly adapted dragons…

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    • Writhing and haunting and true. She articulates a world that I’ve always conceived. Something went terribly awry in our evolution, I think. I watch the dragons and I am struck by how poorly our superior intelligence has served us. They are so perfectly adapted for life in their environment. We are not. 😉

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  3. Well George, you’ve put me to the literary test this evening. I read the piece, then read the reactions to it, and then read the piece again. Keep in mind that I was always the one, in English class, who read everything literally. When the author wrote that the sky was blue with puffy white clouds … how was I to know what he/she really meant was that something was on his/her mind? Anyway … I get the feeling that Szymborksa is saying something about the nature of our ‘flesh-and-blood’ as opposed to that which cannot be beheld. The soul is, indeed, an illusive thing … isn’t it?

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    • As Alexander Pope wrote in the 18th century, “So vast is art, so narrow human wit”. Chuckle… Art, whether it is a painting, a poem, a photograph, a sculpture, etc, requires no interpretation or further articulation. It is what it is. We see what we see. It is either meaningful or meaningless to us. I recently saw a clip in which paintings from IKEA were presented at a museum art exhibit. “Experts” were invited to view them. Each had some profound thing to say about them. Then, they were told that the paintings were from IKEA and were painted by “nobodys”. Most of the experts laughed. I’m sure they felt foolish. They looked a bit sheepish! This poem was as significant to me as it was to my friend. But, we are inclined to view our worlds through similar lenses. Life is torturous for some and joyful for others. Our personality differences make for an interesting mix if we leave our egos at the door! Don’t you think? I pay little attention to literary criticism. But, I am shameless, as you know. 🙂

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      • Thanks for that bit of wisdom George. We had clear ground as of yesterday! And, then 6 more inches of the heaviest, wettest, snow you’d ever wanna see, today! I about to give up! No lambs … but lots and lots of huge ewes. I hope they hold off another few days and give the snow time to melt and the ground time to dry out a bit. I hope you are enjoying more seasonal weather down there. D

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        • Ewes have better sense than we do, I think. Chuckle… I hope they can wait until the ground is warmer for their babies. Keep watch! How many do you expect? Can you corral them or something? What a dumb question, I know, but I can’t help wanting to bring them indoors! I would be a poor farmer, I’m afraid. And I would require double doses of my crazy dope worrying about the babies… Let me know SOS when a baby arrives!! 🙂

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          • You kid yourself George … and I know better … you’d be a great farmer … you have provided ample evidence of this yourself. The ewes always lamb on pasture. It is really better for everyone. Being inside is, counter to what you would think, tough on the animals. Their eating and drinking patterns change, and pneumonia is always a risk – especially in weather that is changing so quickly. The only real danger comes on wet and very cold nights if and when a Lamb might become separated from its mother. It goes without food and can quickly become hypothermic. We watch the ewes very carefully though and if we’re expecting rain overnight on a very cold day and there’s a ewe that looks ‘close,’ we’ll bring her into the barn. No worries. I’ll get some pictures of the first little bundle to arrive. D

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            • I know. There are some things that humans cannot control. Even for ourselves! 🙂 I know this is a stressful time for you and Joanna. I hope the sun shines, the rain doesn’t come, and it’s warmer!! Thanks, D!

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    • I’m happy that you like it, Lemony. Thank you for sharing the poem. “The body is and is and is and has nowhere to go…” while the little soul wanders and nothing has changed…

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    • Only folks like us would find her world comforting, I think. I knew you were an eccentric like me, somehow, Sylvia. Chuckle… I’m happy you like the image.

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    • Scott!! I answered your comment and apparently failed to hit “post”! It’s the cognitive decline struck again! 😉 What a beautiful response. I don’t find it sad at all, but I am a total subscriber to the Vonnegut philosophy: It is what it is. I think we skipped a couple of critical steps in the evolution of our species that left us unable to adapt physically or psychologically to the unnatural environment that our superior intellectual evolution compelled us to attempt to create. When I watch the Bearded Dragons, I am struck by their perfect environmental adaptation. You must observe that in your hikes every day. Our little souls wander while the frail body is and is and has nowhere to go. That beautifully articulated statement on the human condition pretty much agrees with my world view! I hope you are well and happy. You’ve posted so many wonderful photographs of your new home. There are little canyons to explore there too… 😉

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      • You remain precious, George…and I admire your stamina and world view, despite things being what they are. Thank you for your kind words…and thoughts. And yes, there are little canyons to explore here, too. 🙂

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    • Descriptive and true, unfortunately. We are restless wanderers searching for what we do not know. And the body is and is and is and has nowhere to go. Philosophical questions to which there are no answers. Thanks, Sue.

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    • I agree. I am constantly aware of how unsuited we are for our environment. Both physically and emotionally. We have not adapted nearly as well as other species. Living with Dragons has taught me a great deal about that. Chuckle… The line, “…the body is and is and is and has nowhere to go” sticks in my head. We are wanderers in an alien land, I think.

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  4. For we are all Strangers in a Strange Land –
    Here Time travellers from the past
    Meet those from the future –
    We exchange exotic items in the Bazaar of the Bizarre,
    Snapshots of sepia yesterdays
    Selfies of all the yet to be born tomorrows.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Glad you enjoyed the response. It is a bit of science fiction allusion – I have been fond of the expression ever since I read the Fritz Leiber tale with that title. The internet & social media is where we all meet across time zones, cultures, languages and generations. 🙂

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