13 September 2009

Collective unconscious

Week to week, our indelible teacher, Ania Walwicz http://www.textbase.net/walwicz.html gets us to write stream of consciousness poetry in class after covering poets as far ranging as Cohen, Heaney and Buson.
Recently, we were looking at myths and were required to close our eyes and let an image come to us. I saw a river with ice breaking up, extremely loud and incredibly close, yeah. I have not seen this at all during the course of my life, being dinky-di Aussie raised, apart from in movies. In particular, there is a memorable montage in the hilariously surreal fairy tale Varvara Krasa of images of changing seasons (with requisite Slavic fetishisation of nature poetry like 'ti nesi menya reka'... you carry me river....)

i wrote this in class,


Great ice floes,
The ice flows with a jostle
All speed downstream
The river is a raging horse
His white mane whips
The ice tumbles and smacks
In the darkness
Deafening, sharp
Dull, clear and
Turbine murkiness
The river is a brute horse
That storms by the centre
His magic hooves crack ice
Sending winter out.
My pale horse river
Amid pine needles and rock
He dashes away snow
With the wind of his stallion soul.

...using as many names and euphemisms for drugs as I could - but also writing about rebirth and spring blah blah. Oh and the magic hooves are a reference to a Russian fairy tale called Konek Gorbunok (little hump-backed pony). Ania is writing a book based on this Russian tale, it was translated into Polish- Konik Garbusek - it was the first book she read back in Poland and another one of my favourite childhood movies.

Later in the class I came across an entry in a book of mythology about Buri, the name caught my eye because it means "storms" in Russian. Buri is a Norse god who was licked out of the ice by a primeval cow over the course of three days. It resonated a bit with the poem I had written earlier, except here, there is a cow rather than a horse bringing in the end of winter. In the conspiracy-heavy Zeitgeist program, they point to such ancient myths as proof of the unoriginality of Christian ideas (or collective unconscious, really, if I could tap into it in 5 seconds with no prior knowledge of Buri... it's not mythological 'borrowing').

I wrote this for Buri

The god is carved
For a million frozen stars
It’s cold
Waiting in the northern light
with the grey sea thrashing
Under the ice, time is endless
waiting for the thaw
His eyes are unblinking as he lies
Waiting for her step to click
She licks him
Her breath is like milk

and I used to think Norse mythology was the refuge of LOTR fangirls and Cornell Latin-speaking undergrad virgins... seems I've tapped into the collective unconcious of the Norse.

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