Friday, August 10, 2012

Mr. Geoffrey – a Love Story. Part 6 of 6

See Part 1 Here
See Part 2 Here
See Part 3 Here
See Part 4 Here
See Part 5 Here




I read him Irish poems in the Irish language. He told me Jewish ones in Yiddish from memory. We would slowly translate the words to each other. And sometimes back again, verbally fondling those that had a commonality between the Gaeilge (Irish language) and the Yiddish.

On our very last afternoon together I read him Lady Gregory's marvellous translation of Donal Og.





Donal Og
It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday
and myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother has said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me, you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

In my memory, that poem filled up our entire session and spread out over all the afternoons we had shared. I took my time in reading it. My voice felt strange and thick and lonely to my ears. As if there should have been foghorns in the background. Every line felt heavy in my mouth. I had to wrench it out of myself.

His eyes never left my face. Now and again he took his thick glasses off and swept a finger beneath his eyes without closing them. More times than I could count. Catching the tears before they fell, I like to think.

I hesitated when I stood up to leave him. I felt awkward, ungainly in my last week of pregnancy, awkward in the emotions that threatened to overflow into tears or into awkward, inadequate words that would diminish all we had given each other.

Silence can say far more. Silence can bathe everything in golden amber, preserved forever. Taken out of the mind's secret drawer every now and again and admired afresh from every angle.

I turned and I left, closing the door without looking at him.

I never saw him again.

17 comments:

  1. the poem made me cry and so did your story...as a German i feel the guilt of my people(part5)and i can feel the star crossed love...your story is beautiful , but makes me unbelievably sad .
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  2. Some people touch our souls and like the names carved into a tree trunk they remain forever.

    Truly wonderful story.

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  3. Beautiful poem, beautiful story, beautiful writing, WWW. Thank you!

    Am glad the story ends as it does, retaining all the mystery and magic. :-)

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  4. You share your pain and in the process release another's. Beautiful story, beautifully written. You have the gift, WWW. I am deeply touched.

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  5. I loved this story. Just loved it.

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  6. Thank you...
    Powerful and spare writing.
    I remember such offices.
    How the world has changed.

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  7. WWW, indulge me for a longish response. I waited for the last installment to comment because right in the beginning, you wrote about things that I could relate to.

    We used to give "Soda Bottle) as nick names to people wearing glasses like the ones worn by Mr, G.

    I used to get my shirts and handkerchiefs embroidered with my initials from a convent. The nuns taught embroidery and also took orders for embroidered and other hand crafted pieces like doilies. I was advised by an Irish nun to choose "colour on colour" for the embroidery - the height of sophistication!

    I have known people like Mr. G and at least in my sartorial choices would try to emulate them. I still believe that I got selected for an important job because I could tie a bow tie without the help of a mirror to show the interviewer that my bow tie was tied! Naturally, he was a fop too!

    You might like to visit http://rummuser.com/?p=844 for what I wrote on sartorial splendour.

    "My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
    or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
    or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
    it was you put that darkness over my life.

    You have taken the east from me, you have taken the west from me;
    you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
    you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
    and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!"

    That resonates with me. I think that you know why.

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  8. Many many thanks Wise - more beautiful than I can say.
    Great comments too - makes the internet and those in it seem like such a wonder.
    take care,
    Betty

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  9. Thank you all so much for you input and comments. As stories stir as many different feelings in so many readers, I will let your comments stand as is without further comment from me.

    One of my closest friend believes it just doesn't have the strength for a play and I tend to agree with her.

    I will revise it to short story-ism. In time.

    Thank you all, words fail me in attempting thanks for your time, patience and comments.

    XO
    WWW

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  10. "One of my closest friend believes it just doesn't have the strength for a play and I tend to agree with her."

    And yet its strength certainly stirred me.

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  11. I don't see a play but I do see a short movie where you can more easily stage past memories of Mr. Geoffry (alongside the 1969 memories of yourself going about your day to day life in a new country that you also escaped to).

    A musical finale set to that poem in Irish, English and Yiddish would be epic.

    XO

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  12. Well something fresh to think about!

    Which I will do.

    Love that finale idea, Orla!

    XO
    WWW

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  13. I'm curious as to what happened to him after you left. I wonder if he befriended someone else in the same way or if he felt a bit sad and deserted? He obviously got a great deal out of his friendship with you.

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  14. This is the story of the displaced and dispossessed everywhere. We who have lost our homes, for whatever reason, have your poem in common. Perhaps that is why I love the books of W.G. Sebald so much, particularly The Emigrants.

    I also learned from your post where "The Well of Loneliness" from comes from, the title of Radclyffe Hall's novel.

    Somehow I wish you could have taken your new-born child to your friend, to show him that life goes on.

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  15. Nick & Friko:
    I knew to the depths of my being I could never see him again and that included inquiring about him, etc.
    I had to close that door and never let even a crack of light show.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. A beautiful vignette. Sorry I have only just caught up now. I agree it would have been nice to take the baby to see him, but understand why you felt you shouldn't. He could have made a wonderful godfather though.

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  17. I like this story as is. If he had requested you let him/the office staff know about your child's birth, then sent you a baby gift, further contact would have been warranted. Under the circumstances I think you've been best left with this lovely memory you've so tenderly described.

    Stories that leave the reader (at least this reader) with thoughts to ponder about the many, "what if's" tend to linger in my mind. Your words convey such a sensitivity for all that is unsaid.

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