Eine Kleine Kunstmaschine: 34 Sestinen.
Whether or not he thought of the Provencal troubadour Arnaut Daniel,
of Dante Alighieri, or of his fellow German poet Martin Opitz, Oskar
Pastior presses his liberated word compositions into strict form. As if
he wanted the mercury like forces of his language to be firmly contained
in an old poetic device, Pastior offers here thirty-four sestinas in
outwardly classical fashion. Each of the six stanzas thus offers six
lines and a concluding triplet, also known as a tomada or an envoi.
Literary history aside, the poet introduces a possibly postmodern facade
encapsulating a highly modern composition of words with no intended
meaning. His sestinas are collages of words reflecting a confusing world
of slogans, word torsi, foreign elements, noncommittal phrases, and
non-sequitur elements--to no other avail than to entertain both the
creator himself and a willing readership. In some of the selections
Pastior even follows Daniel's rhyme scheme of a b c d e f / f a e b
d c / c f d a b e / e c b f a d / d e a c f b / b d f e c a, ending with
the envoi of a b c, as in "pendelmasse auf mandelpassage"
(pendulum mass on almond passage). Still, his word games continue to
flow, recalling the language magnetism of e. g. Thomas Bernhard, but
with no plot to which to hold on.
The sestinas are followed by a long epilogue and footnotes, which
again offer nothing but a play with words, which show everything words
can display in rhapsodic eloquence of dimensions wholly independent from
logical language. For example, the triplet in "sestine mit
wurfeln" (sestina with dice) reads as follows: "gleich sieht
ein auge einen lampenschirm / aber drei augen sieht von rechts das
teeglas / d. h. funf augen sehn mir durch die brust" (soon an eye
sees a lampshade / but three eyes sees the teacup from the right / i.e.
five eyes are looking through my chest). It seems meaningful due to
several clauses which could make sense, but that appearance turns out to
be misleading, a fact which is revealed in line 2. Here, for the sake of
the wordplay, grammar is corrupted (three eyes sees); one could suggest
the poet retains his freedom by any and all means. This is language
adopted as a creative medium for an artistic reality second to none.
Peter Pabisch University of New Mexico