Amateur Poet

I have no doubts./The I is dead./Dissolved./No reason to return any more?/Good bye!/I live another hundred lives./So why/cry?  – – – – –  And for the empty sheath/I stealed a searching ray./But when it’s gone/to fight/for light./What pain?  – – – – –  The void- – -Fill it again/with longing and despair/Until the white translucent mildness/of the Great/transfuses it to quivering creation.

So after a break of several months, really about a year, I returned to my studies of Claire Holt’s research papers and documents.

It’s been a treat to look over her documents, notes, photographs, and letters; Holt, author of the great text Art in Indonesia:  Continuities and Change, is a scholar I greatly admire.  Looking through all these materials gives great insight into the intelligence and discipline behind Holt’s work and accomplishments.

This time around, in box number 13, I found a folder of documents labeled “Poetry – by and for Stutterheim.”  I transcribed a couple of her poems, mostly about her own scholarship.

One of these I copied down, the second quoted here, was a delightful object.  Scribbled down on the back of another paper (written in Dutch), her verse was illustrated with little pencil drawings and doodles.

End

Oh sadness when the work is done!/The “philobsession” – the fight with words/that, conquered, lay themselves/between the points and comma’s/as if from immemorial times/your undisputable possession,/is ended.  The hour has struck -/it’s finished with the chatter;/the ribbon bids good bye to the keys/who clattered it to tatters/without remorse.  Its tortured soul/will rise, without the aid of priests/or ringing bells and burnt incense,/in flight to heavens Balinese,/where, at the feet of lords divine,/it will be blessed and made a saint/for martyrdom – the noble aims/pleasing the Gods, whose old domains/it helped describe in words so fine/conceived by own Stutterheim.

On the top right of the page is a small drawing of a crazed woman, surrounded by books and papers in a state of chaos – she almost seems Rangda-like.  There is a small bell drawn above her head.

And then at the top of left of the page are three keys side by side, and below these burning incense, with a woman emerging from the smoke (in a much more pure state than the haggard scholar).

At the bottom of the page is man ringing the bell at the top attached by a rope, a thin pencil line stretching across the paper.  To his right is a small drawing of a Javanese shadow puppet.  Certainly not great poetry, but loved this scrap of paper.

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