Henrique Rabunhal- Dialogue with my lover

Dialogue with my lover


Do you feel the wind, shaving the windows ?
It is my body which goes around sticking to you,
Bled dry in a dream that scales buildings,
In bites like hours and like snow.
Handed over at last to survival.

Do you feel the wind, shaving the windows ?
Go out and embrace it,
You will notice my soaking hands
Writing their caress in your pores,
Maps of love, the whole of life.

Do you feel nothing now ?
That is me as well,
That silence
That aims
To stab you
With light
And words.

I was attracted to the cover of Poemas da Luz e da Loucura Poems of Light and Madness (Espiral Maior: A Coruña, 1992) with its abstract design by Eduardo Casal.  The poet, Henrique Rabunhal, is widely published and highly educated, so I assumed that the tasteful cover and the curriculum vitae were good signs.  The book has given me a lot more trouble than I expected.

When I first read the collection I threw it down in irritation.  I usually read poetry collections from cover to cover in a first reading, preferably with a beer or a glass of wine.  When I got past the longer poems and into the short one-, two- and three-line poems in the section Euphorias, I felt the same irritation I get when someone sits with me and monopolises my attention with their personal stories and theories about life.  É de palavras se construírom os povos– It is of words that nations are built: yeah, yeah.

I don’t like to give up on poetry, however.  I came back to the collection a few months later and was freshly irritated by the love poems with their Baroque physicality.  Why does he leave a space between windows and the question mark?  Bleeding, dreams, scaling buildings, bite-size, snow?  Add to that fingers that write a whole life and I was irritated all over again.

Is Rabunhal a modern day Richard Crashaw rendered sexy and up-to-date by the introduction of the word “clitoris”?  I grew up thinking that Crashaw, who was born into a family of Puritan divines and ended up as a minor priest at the shrine of Loreto in Italy, was corrupted by Catholicism:
Upwards thou dost weepe,
Heav’ns bosome drinkes the gentle streame,
Where the milky Rivers creepe
Thine floates above, and is the creame.
He gives us this improbable vision of the Mary Magdalene crying upwards (!) and her tears becoming like the cream on a milky river.  It made my adolescent stomach queasy, just as wind shaving the windows might.

Crashaw was my route back into Rabunhal.  After all I can’t say that I don’t get a buzz out of excessive metaphors of the kind you find in Tango or Fado.  And there is a Portuguese flavour to Rabunhal that invites me to take him as the representative of something warmer and more southern than Galicia normally provides.  And just as Portugal looks out to the Atlantic and seems to drink in a colonial decadence it mixes in with its own characteristic sweetness, pain and ornament, I began to get a feeling that this would be my way in to Rabunhal.

I am thinking of The Alexandria Quartet by Laurence Durrell.  I remember reading Clea sitting outside the station in Santander when I was seventeen, relishing the sense of another, distant place, the rich texture of the word pictures and giving time to Durrell’s image of a poet who only writes in cryptic, epigrammatic lines pregnant with meaning.  “That’s it!” I thought.  I have to think of this guy as a character in a Durrell novel.

There you go.  There is little chance of me being sexy and deep, but I have found a way to enjoy someone who is.

I did the paintings in Portugal.  Sorry they don’t have any naked women!  I wonder if Eduardo Casal is the same as this webpage: http://www.eduardocasal.com/ so if you have the answer, please let me know.

About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
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4 Responses to Henrique Rabunhal- Dialogue with my lover

  1. kestrelart says:

    Good story and painting. The tall thin ones are unusually composed and are especially interesting. I think I may try this myself.


    • Thanks, Kestrel. I like working in the long format. They are not too big- about 25cm by 8cm. I use a good heavy paper so I don’t have to bother stretching and go out with all my kit in my bag. I put them together in collections and give them away- just gave some to my daughter for her nineteenth birthday.


      • kestrelart says:

        I saw a pad about that size last week being sold as “panoramic” – all I need is a 90 degree turn!
        anyway, thanks for replying


  2. Pingback: Henrique Rabunhal- Dialogue with the Beloved | Writing Finger

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