Friday, February 27, 2009

Bill Holm

"For it is life we want. We want the world, the whole beautiful world, alive —
and we alive in it. That is the actual god we long for and seek, yet we have already found it, if we open our senses, our whole bodies, thus our souls. That is why I have written, and intend to continue, until someone among you takes up the happy work of keeping the chain letter of the soul moving along into whatever future will come."

~ Bill Holm
We lost Bill Wednesday. Poet, Essayist, Musician. Bill was a Minnesota treasure, a world traveler, and a Friend of Iceland. He planted more than one seed of Icelandic discovery in me. His writing inspired me, his presence on the radio and in person lifted my spirits. A week before my second trip to Iceland (March, 2004) Bill gave a reading at a local publishing house. There was a small auditorium in the building and it was packed. Bill spoke, read, and played piano in support of an Icelandic soprano. He spoke of his writing workshop, of his summer home in Hosfós on the northern coast of Iceland. He was glowing, in his element, and we in the audience were enthralled. Last March, my wife and I had the opportunity to dine with Bill, the crowd was much smaller then, but Bill's enthusiasm was undiminished- he loved the lamb stew that was served so much that he passed the bowl around the table, urging each of us to have a taste!





To those of us who have been bitten by the "Iceland bug", Bill's writing on that subject always provided a soothing balm for that persistent itch. Here he expresses his love for the Icelandic language most eloquently:
The Icelandic Language

In this language, no industrial revolution;
no pasteurized milk; no oxygen, no telephone;
only sheep, fish, horses, water falling.
The middle class can hardly speak it.

In this language, no flush toilet;
you stumble through dark and rain with a handful of rags.
The door groans;
the old smell comes up from under the earth to meet you.

But this language believes in ghosts;
chairs rock by themselves under the lamp;
horses neigh inside an empty gully,
nothing at the bottom but moonlight and black rocks.

The woman with marble hands
whispers this language to you in your sleep;
faces come to the window and sing rhymes;
old ladies wind long hair, hum, tat, fold jam inside pancakes.

In this language, you can't chit-chat holding a highball in your hand,
can't even be polite.
Once the sentence starts its course,
all your grief and failure come clear at last.

Old inflections move from case to case,
gender to gender, softening consonants, darkening vowels,
till they sound like the sea
moving icebergs back and forth in its mouth.

~ Bill Holm


Bill has been mentioned here several times, I have a feeling he'll show up again.

By Professor Batty



0 Comments:

Post a Comment