Anthony Madrid

Twenty-six items from Special Collections

Twenty-six items from Special Collections (l)

Exhibit 'L': Sumerian. (Anonymous, ['In those days, in those far-off days…'], circa 1800 BCE)

Bibliography: The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian, translated and with an introduction by Andrew George (Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1999). The poem below and its editorial matter appear on pages 175–189.

Twenty-six items from Special Collections (h)

Exhibit 'H': Kiriwina (Papua New Guinea).

Exhibit 'H': Kiriwina (Papua New Guinea). (Linda Thomas, 'Fetching it back,' circa 1970)

Bibliography: Words of Paradise: Poetry of Papua New Guinea, edited by Ulli Beier (Unicorn Press, Santa Barbara, in affiliation with Sun Books, Australia, 1973).  The word "bulubwalata" (line 1) is glossed by Beier as "a magic formula intended to do evil."

Comment: This will not be the last magic spell in this series. I'm prejudiced in their favor. To me, spells, incantations are the true odas elementales. Shamanistic poetry has only a handful of modes. Mainly there's lying, there's talking nonsense, and there's voicing unreasonable demands. (Cf. the title of Kenneth Koch's book about teaching kids to write poetry: Wishes, Lies, and Dreams.) Ezra Pound thought a writing system based on pictograms "simply had to stay poetic." He must have never seen a copy of Quotations from Chairman Mao. But naked desire calling upon the powers of the air for backup—? That stays poetic.

Twenty-six items from Special Collections (j)

Exhibit 'J': Medieval Icelandic.

Exhibit 'J': medieval Icelandic. (Anonymous, excerpt from 'Hávamál' ['The Sayings of the High One'], from 'The Poetic Edda,' manuscript circa 1270 CE, stanzas 111–137)

Bibliography: The Poetic Edda, translated with an Introduction and Notes by Carolyne Larrington (Oxford University Press, 1996). A few words from Larrington's Introduction: "The Codex Regius, the manuscript in which the Poetic Edda is preserved, is an unprepossessing-looking codex the size of a fat paperback, bound in brown with brownish vellum pages; it is now kept in the Arnamagnæan Institute in Reykjavik. Most of the mythological and heroic poems it contains are only in this single manuscript....

Twenty-six items from Special Collections (k)

Exhibit ‘K’: Somali.

Exhibit ‘K’: Somali. (Anonymous, [“Like a she-camel with a large bell…”])

Bibliography: Somali Poetry: An Introduction, B.W. Andrzejewski and I.M. Lewis (Oxford, 1964). The poem below appears on pages 142 (English) and 143 (Somali).

Twenty-six items from Special Collections (i)

Exhibit 'I': Japanese.

Exhibit 'I': Japanese. (Masaoka Shiki, thirty-seven haiku, 1892–1902)

Bibliography: Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems, translated by Burton Watson (Columbia University Press, 1997). ¶ A few words from Watson's Introduction: "The first poet to compose hokku of true depth and artistic stature was Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), who is regarded by many as the greatest haiku poet of all time. [ . . . ] Two other poets in the years following who wrote haiku of outstanding quality were Yosa Buson (1716–1783) and Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827). These three, along with Masaoka Shiki, make up the four masters of the form...."