The plunge and the eclipse

2021-12-15 @Blog

Voilà the Cathedral, my personally favourite ecclesiastic edifice I ever recall inspiring this many cycles of pensive observance. Full of Gothic marvels I lack the propensity to adequately transcribe, the spires condescend with episcopal puissance, the headless vikings await to sound the battle horns and perish into the abysmal embraces of the Valhalla, the tiny arched apertures multiply along the lattice and give way to the obscurity of the cells, the studies, the libraries, and the bowers of strict obeisance. In a culminating union of contrasts, the Samovars along the ledges, the stained glass symbolism, the Latin inscriptions, the rotund clock face, the illumined crosses contend for attention.

But at the adjoining plaza operates a falafel street stand I indulge in at every opportunity. I’m a sucker for quality falafel, especially when I find one in a Mexican city, among the traditional and, alas, the rather disagreeable options. Crazy to forego the traditional for the foreign? Crazy not to … Fresh pita, hummus, a huge pile of vegetables (this is paramount), crunchy pieces of falafel aplenty, esoteric seasoning manifest, some odder seeds beyond, I’m in.

Next to that the used book stand grabs my attention, among which we tend to find the mostly unremarkable cardboard box of twenty-peso everythings, though I occasionally dig up an awkwardly translated classic worth a flash perusal. Such I even purchased El Cantar de los Nibelungos (Der Nibelungenlied) the other day, a modern literal translation “que no se trata de una versión poética”, que no pretende sino “despertar el interés de los estudiosos …”, etc.

I respect an honest translator remark to the regard that yes, this isn’t Nibelungenlied, but a mere abstraction intended to acquaint the curious with the ancient.

The first stanza:

Muchas cosas maravillosas narran - las sagas de tiempos antiguos
De héroes loables - de gran temeridad,
De alegría y de fiestas - de llantos y lamentos,
De la lucha de héroes valientes - ahora encucharéis narrar maravillas.

The entire translation follows this format, line by line, translated in exactitude, alliteration clearly disregarded but for the half-line delimiters that preserve a mild sense of the original cadence. The Germanic epic interpretation might stand a chance were I stranded, literature-less, option-less … priority-less.

Why even make the purchase? Though priced less than a coffee around these parts (it behooves one to explore alternate purchase references), the extra baggage now consumes the physical and mental inventory, sabotaging yet another rambling initially aimed at a topic on the verge of near neglect, extracted from the same pool of crumbled and faded bullet lists, disparate journal excerpts and clever aphorisms topped with synthetic grease, long overdue to acquire some verbose function but endangered, and heading for the similar gulf of abysmal neglect. Maybe I should (and this has been suggested) just identify a sound phrase or even a sentence fragment, then destine the remainder for the stenches of the metaphysical junkyard?

Meanwhile, the coffee continuum has taken the plunge down the precipice of the local minimum, while the yerba mate asserts the eclipse. And this particularly bitter yerba mate evokes extraordinary elation. According to the literature, in Europe we find the poetry of flowers, while in the Americas, the poetry of mate. -El mate amargo significa indiferencia- I hear. Yerba mate also makes a natural laxative.

Questions, comments? Connect.