[As ever, keep scrolling down for the translations of all the latest EZLN communiques, and you shall find them]
Yes, I have been solemnly swearing to visit Bécquer and basques, to sooth and stir the heart, but la vida is nothing if not of its own mind.
As for the outing of the odd provocateur which I had also promised, I've come up with a much finer idea, a primer of sorts, a self-help manual so that you can share in the fun. Later in the week, I hope.
But now some words about words and minds. The committing of words to memory. How could that be anything short of perfection? Committing. Words. Memory.
I started much too young, for no good reason other than it seemed as natural as breathing and laughing and running. Marvell and Hardy and Houseman and Byron and cummings and Yeats and Teasdale and much too much Wordsworth. An infinity [and I was so very entranced by infinity] of couplets and sonnets and low verse.
And it never felt odd. Just the thing for entertaining my girlfriends at slumber parties, dissolving into giggles at 'stands like harper's hoar with beards that rest on their bosom.' Then providing endless fodder for angst and first loves. Schoolgirl crushes were always 'begotten by despair,' and Fate was determined 'to iron wedges drive.'
The words provided, and provide, harbour for every rough passage - reflecting, embracing and murmuring the memories of so very many moments.
Which, however circuitously, really does lead to Bécquer.
I had two especially delightful female teachers in high school. The one taught a World Literature class and compelled us to memorize thousands of lines every semester. It was unheard of, of course, so very, very out of line with the tenor of the times. But I was ecstatic, and it was the carrot that allowed me to plow through the Iliad, the Inferno and others of their ilk.
The other lady was from San Juan. An unrepentant romantic with the thankless task of teaching first year Spanish to 40 skittish adolescents using the new "dialogue" methodology. ["Donde queda la biblioteca? Allí delante. Vas ahora mismo?" Total, unmitigated and devastating crap.].
She managed to survive the horrors of the year by unabashedly "forcing" us to memorize "Volverán las oscuras golondrinas..." By Bécquer. Conquering my heart - and life - in the process. And, knowing a kindred soul when she saw one, having me tape the poem for the edification, and practice, of the rest of the deeply bored class. And, as heaven is my witness, her name was Señora Love.
When I moved to Barcelona, frantic with need to find a flat and quickly make a new home for my son and myself, the estate agent finally found the perfect place. Of course the street was Gustavo Bécquer. 25, as I recall.
And my son, by the way, also, and also for no good reason, memorized Blake's "Tyger, tyger burning bright" when he was 4 or 5.
I still have every single word, universes of them. And they still provide constant solace, pleasure and compass.
Next, as I keep promising, we shall do, and undo, corsets. And counterinsurgents.