Saturday, June 10, 2017

No Title (A Turreted Berg)

Frank Hurley
No Title (A Turreted Berg)
carbon print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


The iceberg is drifting nearer,

Look, it is breaking loose
from the glacier's face,
from the glacier's foot.
O yes, it is white,
it moves, O yes,
it is larger than anything
moving on the waters,
in the air,
or on the face of the earth.

Mortal dreams,
traversed by a caravan
of icebergs:
"Looming over the ocean,
more than two hundred and fifty feet high,
its surfaces, freshly fractured,
reflect the light
in hues and tints
of wonderful transparency."
"It is as if the sun's fire
were mirrored
in the windowpanes
of a hundred palaces."

It is better
not to think of the weight
of the iceberg.
He who has witnessed it,
will hardly ever forget
the sight of it, if he lives
for a long time to come.

"It is an exalting spectacle,
but it also inspires the heart
of the beholder
with a feeling
of secret dread."

For the iceberg
there is no future.
It floats on.
We have no use
for the iceberg.
It is indubitable.
There is no money in it.
is not its forte.
It dwarfs us.
We never see more of it
than the tip.

It is perishable.
It does not care.
It does not make progress,
but "when,
not unlike a monstrous
white marble slate
mottled with bluish veins,
it suddenly tilts and crashes down,
the ocean will tremble."

It is none of our business,
it will drift on in silence,
it needs nothing,
it has no offspring,
it melts away.
It leaves nothing behind.
It disappears to perfection.
Yes, that's the word for it:

 from The Sinking of the Titanic: A Poem (1980) by Hans Magnus Enzensberger