To the Shade of Aleksandr Wat


Newly arrived at infinity-which turned out to resemble an elongated, vastly improved Wolomin Street–he received, upon entering, a gift in the shape of Schumann’s music, bursting with rapture and chaos (the first movement of the first sonata for violin and piano as performed by two insufferable, but, we must concede, very gifted cherubim).

Later a certain learned rabbi parsed the distinctions between a silken and a stony death, and the famed theologian P. gave a lengthy lecture on “The Old, New, and Even Newer Testaments in Wat’s Postwar Opus.”

“Pain as a Pivotal Experience” and “An Inborn Gift for Synthesizing Unlike Objects” were the topics of other talks, which were received less attentively since afterward eternity was scheduled to perform and an orchestra of swarthy gypsies in snug tuxes played without pausing, without end.

–Adam Zagajewski (from Eternal Enemies)

Japanese Archery

The hand tells the bowstring:
Obey me.
The bowstring answers the hand:
Draw Valiantly.
The bowstring tells the arrow:Aleksandr Wat
O arrow, fly.
The arrow answers the bowstring:
Speed my flight.
The arrow tells the target:
Be my light.
The target answers the arrow:
Love me.

The target tells arrow, bowstring, hand and eye:
Ta twam asi.
Which means in a sacred tongue:
I am Thou.

(Footnote of a Christian:
O Mother of God,
watch over the target, the bow, the arrow
and the archer).

Aleksandr Wat

—Translated by Richard Lourie

Posted by Jillian Parker

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