Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Black Stuff

It’s called salt liquorice and you love it or hate it. Mostly it seems to come from Sweden or Finland, but these are from Holland and Son recently discovered them in a traditional sweetshop nearby so he bought some for me. The shopkeeper wondered aloud how anyone could actually eat the stuff. It is salty but also sweet, and the combination of this and the liquorice is indescribably good, if that is the sort of thing you like. It is yin and yang, expansion and contraction, the fusion of opposites, good for this season.

I think I might have had a few too many of them, though. Or perhaps it is something else, a darkness pulling at my muscles, the echo of a song I would rather not hear. Free association can lead you to strange thoughts – sometimes they are signposts that you think for one split moment you recognise, or you almost might if you could only remember how to read the language. Sometimes I think I need poetry because I need something to place against the darkness. I think of some lines of Death Fugue by Paul Celan:
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon in the morning we drink you at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents


cusp said...

I love this stuff ---yum !
There’s an award waiting for you at


Reading the Signs said...

Cusp - integrity, moi? Mwah! I'm a-coming over.

Kahless said...

I have never tried salt liqurice; sounds intriguing. I will look out for it.

'fraid I dont get the poem?

Reading the Signs said...

Try it, Kahless, be prepared to love or loathe it.

Can Bass 1 said...

Are those sweeties any good for the voice? I've got a stinker of a sore-throat!

Reading the Signs said...

I'm afraid these won't be much use, can bass 1 (you're thinking of the tiny medicinal things) - recommend grating fresh ginger root and having ginger tea.

Minx said...

I'll eat it if there's nothing else on offer. Celan is a little hard to swallow as well especially when my mood is up at the moment.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Minx - I think the poem should just stand complete and by itself rather than in the context of a post like this. It is so fine. But on the other hand it came to me like that.

seahorse said...

Ugh, memories of a Pernod given to me by a friend of my aunt's when I was over in France visiting her...aged ten. I drank it to be polite, and have never been able to stand anything remotely liquorice- related since. So there you go. Aren't tastebuds funny things for being so particular?

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Seahorse - well I like Pernod too. And it makes me think of the novels of Jean Rhys set in last century Paris.

it's me, believe me said...

(Signs? I was lurking here - yes, I lurk sometimes, and I have a feeling you've noticed. But I could lurk silently no longer, for I have a Scottish word ver - mcnax - the second, at your site, within the last couple of weeks. I failed to inform you of the first one (it was mcazar) and now this. They are not going to let me shut up, are they? No.

I love Paul Celan. I haven't read anywhere near enough of his stuff, but I love what I've read. Do you know this one? The translation may or may not be a bit funny-peculiar, but the poem's haunted me for years now.

Mwah and continued lurking x)

Reading the Signs said...

You see, you see? This is why I need you to be spooking around, dear Lurkeress (I feminise in order to distinguish you from Another whose hooves have cut a ghostly swathe through the Land of Signs) - to know that somewhere in the ether there is another consciousness that vibrates in tune to mine. Gawd that sounds grandiose. Well but whatever - I haven't seen that one, and thank you. All I know is in the Seclected Poems. But I love him, truly, and find in him the answer to Adorno's "no poetry after Auschwitz."

I know a bit about lurking myself, just saying. But haven't mastered the "Invisibility Cloak" yet. And me a practitioner of the Dark Arts.

Well we know why the WVLs threw up a couple of Scottishisms, don't we? Damn right they won't let you shut up my dear.

xvevtsx. It always comes down to this, doesn't it? Sometimes they can be so crude.

Anna MR said...

Mm. Adorno I am distinctly unknowledgable on, so I won't say much on that (I hear he's notoriously difficult), and it does strike me as a distinct possibility that you're way more knowledgable on Celan, too, but I will happily vibrate in tune to your ethero-cosmic consciousness, Sees, whilst I lurkeress around and about (mainly here). And you will find I've left my Invisibility Cloak at home tonight, but take no notice. I will be back. Or mayhap I've never left.

Mwahs in the meantime xx

Reading the Signs said...

Look here, I know I'm a scholar and intellectual and everything t but between you and me that's actually all I've read of Adorno's. But it's a thing that's been much put about you see - the idea that lyrical poetry was no longer possible after - . And so. But. Paul Celan and, by extension, others.

Keep vibrating, seestah. Etherically, I mean. Obviously.