Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Alexander Dickow, The Song of Lisaine


DEUX #2, image by Rodrigue Marques de Souza




The Song of Lisaine
Traditional song of Vlinsk

The present translation by the ethnologist Ravis Nossing represents one of the only recorded texts from Vlinsk to this day, apparently in its entirety. However, the Song of Lisaine may constitute a relatively autonomous episode in a longer epic work. Summary descriptions in Nossing’s notes, recovered after his disappearance in 2173, evoke other episodes, especially concerning the illustrious twins Roven and Ravella, but whether these belong to the same narrative cycle is not known. The charming simplicity of this primitive literature has generally not attracted the interest of scholars and we reproduce it here for its value as a curiosity: rumor attributes to the people of Vlinsk the ability to reproduce otherwise than by mitosis, and this narrative seems to recount the beginnings of this repugnant practice, though it is not known whether the latter be mere ritual, or some actual means of reproduction. We caution our readers that this narrative, given the graphic nature of the content, may disturb those of delicate sensibility.

Since long ago, since
the mountain watched high over
and the forest outstretched,
since the season nearly reached
fruit and the tournaments
everywhere raged the lust
of champions, since that time
of all time it was my Season,
it was our season each one
of division: it was my Season
and for all time
I was becoming us
in the bliss
of becoming us double.

Yet on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

It was the season of division
and the celebration was in full thirst;
a turn of limbs and draperies,
a procession of throngs in laughter,
a music of tracks treading over
and of flame and flame-red troupes:
and here a dancer from whom drip
hues and chimes;
here is one who trances
in the throes of fabrics;
here is one who exults in a rush
of ripe surrender –
in the village square
rounds unravel
oblivion-lovely limbs
becoming double.

Yet on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

When over the people
declared the hero Cuillain,
between the copper of his voice
where fall and rise
the sack of Arcuin and of Dalve,
the raiding swarms each night
starred over by the drunken gods,
and the madness of Cevin
who vomited the mountain;
and the hero Cuillain spoke
and between the copper of his voice
would arise the cry
The day dulls, let us exalt,
exalt and hasten the round,
the day goes numb, and
Come, come now the time
of becoming us double.

And on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

The low red day leans
and shadow mists each shape,
the players put out their crolls(1)
and voices dim their unison;
and one lets go in haste
to embrace the earth,
another and another,
in weary knots, and the warmth
quiets further and further.
In each body the innards
furl and lengthen;
the millstones of the hips
pivot one against the other
as I remain,  
a thin kernel, a hearth
standing abandoned
amidst the celebration,
I, Lisaine, alone
before the coarse favor
of becoming double.

Yet on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

Soundless these puppets
unhinge and flutter;
a sheaf of cramps
creases the hooked limbs,
spines arch and split:
between flesh
and soul reach legions
of sinews which align
along a spindle(2)
as I remain,
a thin kernel, a hearth
standing abandoned amidst
the anguish of those
who will become double.

Yet on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

Heart, sway me
when this just convulsion
from me now turns aside;
flow not as sorrow,
but, furor or revolt,
deliver me from this
divide through which the nation
deprives me of its bond;
I have been the axis of this people;
now, kinless, I do not number
among them, I, Lisaine, standing
and abandoned, alone
ousted from the celebration
of your becoming double.

Yet on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

Just as rebellions
will rise up a city of faces
ravaged or enraged,
multiple I struggled;
to take action
drove and beset me
aimless; then a sudden reason
left me devoid
or else a bitterness poured me
senseless toward the celebration;
and like Pratellan seizing
the vastness of Kholis
into his throttled grip;
like the vulture Golin
ripping boughs
from the world-tree,
ablaze with weeping
upon Cuillain I leapt.

And on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

In this contest did I hope
he would split open
to disappear me there,
did I desire his death, a standstill;
to melt into or dismember him,
to lose myself in the guts of him;
did I think to take part?
Yet I unleashed myself whole
and all my famine;
I fought by tremor
and by torment,
I feigned fists, I needed,
lashed out, strove, I fled myself  
toward his body coiled far
against me, and among us
moved a terror higher by degrees,
and a consecration.

And on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

I confined you, companion,
in my arms’ own lunacy
enfolded you in furrows
of the violence I had become:
in fright, my prince, I retreated you
by force inside the commissure
of my quivering body
when all at once a velvet-slicked
brand burned between me
like a scabbard punctured through:
and our sorrow rocking
bit by bit became truce
and solace, -- and to you I murmured,
I was long with sighs,
and you flickered, you shook,
my love, like a refrain.

And on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.

This pure day and cruel
was the season of union,
it was my season, when two
became one, springing forth
twins of renown:
Roven of sudden hand,
quick-hearted Ravella,
the one like the other
in need of new paths through
words, our speech was cleft
for all time in two:
she [crd] for the one
who struck ruin to the heart
of the tyrant Martisca,
he(3) [crdü] for the one
who plundered the blinking spores
of the monster Terluin,
and these were the names they bore.

And on this day, when two
became one,
I forever split
our speech in two.


—Alexander Dickow


End Notes

1. Curved musical instrument with three strings, played with a short bow; this instrument is typical of the furthest reaches of Vlinsk.

2. The author is no doubt describing the prometaphase, the second phase of mitosis in which the body is organized into bundles of filaments called kinetochore microtubules, essential to the duplication of the individual.

3. The language of Vlinsk makes a distinction between the pronouns crd and crdü, and this distinction has repercussions on the entire morphology of the language: thus, nouns belong to two morphological classes corresponding to the use of these two pronouns. This complex system, thoroughly explained in my Treatise on the Language of Vlinsk, has no equivalent in Auredian; I therefore had to content myself with inserting the Vlinskian pronouns between brackets. This aetiological myth concerning this language’s system of genders, as I baptised it in my treatise, seems to me unique among all the cultures of the world. (R. Nossing’s Note.)


  

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