Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chopin with Cherries in Paris and in the Polish Review

Maja Trochimczyk reads her poetry in Paris

Two poems from the Chopin with Cherries anthology, published in 2010, made it to rainy Paris this spring.  During the artistic salon at the end of Maria Szymanowska Conference held in April 2014 at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Paris, I read "Harvesting Chopin" in English, and "A Study with Cherries" in Polish and English. Since I have just reprinted the "Harvesting Chopin" on the Poetry Laurels blog, let's read again the cherries. Its translation was problematic from one point of view. The fruit in the title is "wisnia" - dark red and sour, and very fragrant and juicy, perfect for confitures, jams, cakes... The Polish word I selected for translation is "czeresnia" - a larger, more fleshy and far sweeter fruit that does not convert so well into preservers and jams, because with the addition of sugar, its sweetness becomes overpowering. But "Czeresnia" sounds more like "Chopin" and "Cherries" so "czeresnia" it will be.

A Study with Cherries

Maja Trochimczyk

          After Etude in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1 and the cherry orchard
                of my grandparents, Stanisław and Marianna Wajszczuk

I want a cherry,
a rich, sweet cherry
to sprinkle its dark notes
on my skin, like rainy preludes
drizzling through the air.

Followed by the echoes
of the piano, I climb
a cherry tree to find rest
between fragile branches 
and relish the red perfection –
morning cherry music.

Satiated, sleepy,
I hide in the dusty attic.
I crack open the shell
of a walnut to peel
the bitter skin off,
revealing white flesh –
a study in C Major.

Tasted in reverie,
the harmonies seep
through light-filled cracks
between weathered beams
in Grandma’s daily ritual
of Chopin at noon.

Etiuda z Czereśniami

 Inspiracja Etiuda C-Dur, Op. 10, No. 1 i wisniowym sadem mojego dziadka i babci, Stanisława i Marianny Wajszczuk

A ja chcę czereśnie
Słodziutkie czereśnie
Chce poczuć ciemne nuty soku
Na mojej skórze
Jak krople deszczowego preludium
W mżawce poranka

W obłoku fortepianu
Wspinam się na czereśnię
Szukam ukojenia wśród kruchych gałęzi
Cieszę się doskonałością czerwieni
Czereśniową muzyką od samego rana

Nasycona, śpiąca
Chowam się w ciemnościach strychu
By łupać orzechy, obierać gorzką skórkę
Odsłaniać biały miąższ
Studium w tonacji C-dur

Smakuję marzenia
Akordy płyną przez szpary
Starych belek wypełnione światłem

To codzienny rytuał mojej Babuni
Popołudnie z Chopinem


The poem and other Chopin-themed poetry is available in the 2010 anthology, Chopin with Cherries, that was recently reviewed by Grazyna Kozaczka in The Polish Review (vol. 58, no. 4), 2014.  Among other comments, Prof. Kozaczka had the following things to say about the book:

"The book's striking title brings the reader to Trochimczyk's own poem, "A Study with Cherries," where the musical motifs of one of Chopin's etudes transport the poet across space and time to the cherry orchard of her grandparents in Poland and offer her peace and fulfillment.... In Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse, just a glance at the chapter headings identifies the poetic interests in Chopin. Thus poets find inspiration in a particular musical genre such as waltzes, mazurkas, or nocturnes; they become fascinated by Chopin's life, illness, and death, and his relationship to George Sand; and, finally, they explore their own emotional responses to hearing or playing Chopin's music...." 

The reviewer was equally fascinated with visual illustrations from vintage postcards, revealing late 19th-century sensibilities associated with Chopin's music and its expressive world.