segunda-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2014
Wystan Hugh Auden had two Yorks in his life. The one in England is where he was born in 1907. This York, our York, is where he spent half his 66 years. “I adore New York,” Auden once wrote to a friend, “as it is the only city in which I can live and work quietly.” Presumably, he was not being ironic.
To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Auden’s birth, the other York, the one in England, has encouraged taxi drivers to recite his poems to unwitting passengers.
No such plans are in the works here, for which we should all probably be grateful. It might be interesting, though, to ride through Midtown with a cabbie declaiming from “September 1, 1939.” Auden, who died in 1973, wrote it as World War II began. Its opening lines certainly speak to this anxious age:
“I sit in one of the dives/On Fifty-second Street/Uncertain and afraid/As the clever hopes expire/Of a low dishonest decade.”
The Auden anniversary, however, will not go unobserved in this city. One of his verses will soon ride subways and buses, part of the Poetry in Motion program that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has run for 15 years. One cannot let the occasion pass and not “do an Auden,” said Alicia Martinez, the authority’s director of marketing and corporate communications.
Given the fretting about possible disruptions stemming from the early switch this year to daylight saving time, the start of “Funeral Blues” might not be out of line. You know: “Stop all the clocks.” Just a thought.
But it isn’t what the transportation authority and its program partner, the Poetry Society of America, are going with. They settled on the final verse of “O Tell Me the Truth About Love.” It reads:
“When it comes, will it come without warning/Just as I’m picking my nose?/Will it knock on my door in the morning,/Or tread in the bus on my toes?/Will it come like a change in the weather?/Will its greeting be courteous or rough?/Will it alter my life altogether?/O tell me the truth about love.”
How will riders respond? To answer the question with another question, who knows?
“We’ve never surveyed” passenger reactions, Ms. Martinez said. Somehow, she said, the very idea of a poll about poetry “seems incongruous.”
That it does. But there is no reason to doubt the enduring appeal of Poetry in Motion, whose costs are underwritten by Barnes & Noble. What’s not to like? Which would you rather have as a distraction on a dreary ride to work: a snatch of verse (that you may or may not fully get) or an advertisement for a foot pain remedy?
“The goal is simply to make the riding experience enriched beyond the getting of people from one place to another,” said Ms. Martinez.
Inevitably, there are rules. Unpublished poets, for example, need not apply. Over-the-transom submissions “would be exhausting for us,” said Alice Quinn, executive director of the poetry society and the poetry editor at The New Yorker. “And it would leave people more disappointed than exhilarated.”
Selections also must be brief enough to fit on 11-by-28-inch placards, in type large enough to be read across a subway car. So much for sonnets, too long at 14 lines.
Still, that leaves plenty of possibilities. They include works by people whose names may not register instantly with casual readers, like the two poets now riding the rails: Lorine Niedecker, who died in 1970, and Thomas Lux, a onetime New Yorker who teaches poetry at, of all places, Georgia Tech.
IN a few weeks, Mr. Lux will yield his subway seat, so to speak, to Auden. But he’s had a good run, he said by phone from Atlanta. “I’ve gotten more feedback on that poem than I’ve had on any other,” he said.
It is called “A Little Tooth.” It reads in part: “Your baby grows a tooth, then two,/and four, and five, then she wants some meat/directly from the bone. It’s all/over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall/in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet/talker on his way to jail.”
He wrote it after his daughter, Claudia, was born. She is now 19, a student at Sarah Lawrence. Until she noticed the poem while riding the subway and told him about it, he didn’t know he had been chosen.
Don’t take everything about it literally, Mr. Lux said. “Only some of that stuff came true — about cretins and dolts and sweet talkers on their way to jail,” he said.
Just give her time, we said unhelpfully.
“Yeah,” Mr. Lux said with a laugh, “give her time.”http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/nyregion/13nyc.html?ref=wystanhughauden&pagewanted=print
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 19:57