Playing the Fool
Me to myself, when I rerealize I saw this coming.
You might as well live the life that makes you happy,
Either way, you’ll end up playing the fool;
You’ll either get used to it or you won’t.
I don’t know about you—
I’d rather get used to being happy,
and envy the fool.
Whatever happened to enjoying ourselves,
where did we leave us behind?
Knowing we mostly prefer
being totally out of our minds.
What do we have to endure?
What that exists isn’t mine?
I can tell you one thing for sure,
as long as we have a good time.
our shadows tangle
in their fatal dance.
is le petit mort.
I’ve died already
by your hand.
- “End” by Helen Mort
What a beautiful poem, it speaks for itself, and is only one of many from her excellent collection, Division Street.
End reminded me of la petite mort, a French idiom I’ve encountered before. It further led me to a passage from For Whom the Bell Tolls, my first Hemingway novel. I thought Hemingway put it pretty plainly how a man’s mental state changes abruptly after making love (sound’s so much nicer, doesn’t it?). Here’s the transition/spoiler, how you would expect Hemingway to sound, the good part comes before and after this:
I learned about Hemingway and his short, straightforward sentences. And I supposed you heard about him that way too. There’s quite a bit more waiting once you get under the hood of his prose. The first two sentences of Chapter 13 via For Whom the Bell Tolls are as follows:
“They were walking through the heather of the mountain meadow and Robert Jordan felt the brushing of the heather against his legs, felt the weight of his pistol in its holster against his thigh, felt the sun on his head, felt the breeze from the snow of the mountain peaks cool on his back and, in his hand he felt the girl’s hand firm and strong, the fingers locked in his.”
“From it, from the palm of her hand against the palm of his, from their fingers locked together, and from her wrist across his wrist something came from her hand, her fingers and her wrist to his that was as fresh as the first light air that moving toward you over the sea barley wrinkles the glassy surface of a calm, as light as a feather moved across one’s lip, or a leaf falling when there is no breeze; so light that it could be felt with the touch of their fingers alone, but that was so strengthened, so intensified, and made so urgent, so aching and strong by the hard pressure of their fingers and the close pressed palm and wrist, that it was as though a current moved up his arm and filled his whole body with an aching hollowness of wanting.”
How’s that for an image,
where the shape beneath romance and coming
is death; a little death I understand,
that I couldn’t have written better myself.
Sometimes it feels like forever,
And sometimes if feels like a song,
Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind,
And others it’s already gone;
I often wonder if wasting away
Is only a sign of the times,
Because I feel you coming, like watching you going,
And I still haven’t made up my mind.
Took some good advice from here and went with the John Ciardi translation.