Tuesday, June 30, 2009

17. "A Passage to India" by E.M. Forster

Year of first publication: 1924
Genre: novel
Country: England / India

About the author: Edward Morgan Forster was born in London in 1879. His father died short afterwards and he was brought up by his mother and his great-aunt. At the university in Cambridge he was under the influence of the philosopher G.E. Moore, who inspired his faith in the importance of human relationships and in the cult of art and beauty as the only way to find harmony in this world. He lived for some time in Italy, the background of his first and third novels, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and A Room with a View (1908). In both works he explored the differences between the strictness of English conventions and upper-middle-class codes of social behaviour and the more spontaneous and relaxed way of life of the Italians. Between this two books he published The Longest Journey (1907), a novel about English life. Then followed Howards End (1910), often considered his masterpiece. In 1912 he went to India for the first time and began writing an Indian novel in 1914. A Passage to India was published in 1924; it portrays post-Kipling India at a time of transition. He died in 1970 and the following year Maurice appeared, the novel he had written as early as 1914 to release and overcome the sense of guilt linked to his homosexuality, at that time still regarded as criminal offence. Forster’s books have been made into successful movies.

Plot: When Adela and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced British community. Determined to explore the ‘real India’, they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects.

Some thoughts: One more classic in my bag! I’ve read somewhere that E.M. Forster is one of Zadie Smith’s favourite authors (and in fact her third novel On Beauty is an “adaptation” of Howards End) and now I understand why (so far I had only read a few passages from A Room with a View). E.M. Forster is a wonderful writer!
Forster’s main concerns are the difficulties men face in trying to understand each other, especially if there are differences of culture, race and national temperament. Forster portrays a post-Kipling India, where a transformation is taking place. A national consciousness is being formed in the country, despite the fact that the Anglo-Indians try to ignore it. Upon their arrival in Chandrapore, Adela and Mrs Moor claim that they want to see “the real India” and are bored with English people, because they behave as if they were still in England. In other words, they want a taste of the exotic. They think that they are unprejudiced and they can get along with Indian people without encounter difficulties. Mrs Moore is idealized, especially by Dr Aziz: she represents purity and harmony, a successful encounter between the east and the west. Adela, on the other hand, is a more realistic character. She is secretly attracted to Dr Aziz (it is spelled out that he is a fascinating young man), but she doesn’t want to admit it. After having entered the caves, she becomes convinced that Aziz sexually harassed her or even assaulted her. She is terrified by the thought that Dr Aziz, an Indian, might have an interest in her (which he has not, actually, but she unconsciously likes to think that he does). For an Englishwoman it is perfectly all right to have a sexual interest on an Indian (even if it would be shameful to admit it), but it is not acceptable for her that he might have a sexual desire for her. This is emphasized when, during the trial, somebody reflects on the fact that darker races find people with fair skin attractive but not the opposite (which is not true, of course).
Forster, in his Notes on the English Character wrote that the product of the public schools are Englishmen “with well-developed bodies, fairly developed minds and undeveloped hearts”. Ahah, how hilarious: he really was a witty writer after all.
In this novel, full of symbols that I don’t want to analyse here (all right, the caves are supposed to be the womb of the universe and thus the subconscious, whereas the echo represents nature’s benevolence, the harmony of creation), what strikes me the most are the hidden things. For example, there are hidden hints at homosexuality in the friendship between Dr Aziz and Mr Fielding (the scenes in the bedroom being the most obvious example) and the ending is a metaphor of the “suspicious friendship” that links England with India at a time when he British Empire is starting to decline. In other words, Kipling got it right: "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, / Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; / But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, / When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!" (from The Ballad of East and West)
In conclusion, a truly wonderful novel and one that I would like to reread one day.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jean Rhys and the "alienation of smells"

We don't have A-levels in Italy, so I can't really say this was part of the English A-level exam, but in this way you understand what I'm taliking about (for my Italian readers, this is "la seconda prova del liceo linguistico"). It's a wonderful passage about a woman coming to England from the West Indies and talking about her first impressions on the country.

It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known. It was almost like being born again. The colours were different, the smells different, the feelings things gave you deep down in yourself was different. Not just the difference between heat, cold; light, darkness; purple, grey. But a difference in the way I was frightened and the way I was happy. I didn’t like England at first. I couldn’t get used to the cold. Sometimes I would shut my eyes and pretend that the heat of the fire, or the bed-clothes drawn up round me, was sun-heat; or I would pretend I was standing outside the house at home, looking down Market Street to the Bay. When there was a breeze the sea was millions of spangles; and on still days it was purple as Tyre and Sidon. Market Street smelt of the wind, but the narrow street smelt of niggers and wood-smoke and salt fish-cakes fried in lard. (When the black women sell fishcakes in the savannah they carry them in trays on their heads. They call out, “Salt fishcakes, all sweet an’ charmin’, all sweet an’ charmin’.) It was funny, but that was what I thought about more than anything else – the smell of the street and the smell of the frangipani and lime juice and cinnamon and cloves, and sweets made of ginger and syrup, and incense after funerals or Corpus Christi processions, and the patient standing outside the surgery next door, and the smell of the sea-breeze and the different smell of land-breeze.
Sometimes it was as if I were back there and as if England were a dream. At other times England was the real thing and out there was the dream, but I could never fit them together.
After a while I got used to England and I liked it all right; I got used to everything except the cold and that the towns we went to always looked so exactly alike. You were perpetually moving to another place which was perpetually the same. There was always a little grey street leading to the stage-door of the theatre and another little grey street where your lodging were, and rows of little houses with chimneys like the funnels of dummy steamers and smoke the same colour as the sky; and a grey stone promenade running hard, naked and straight by the side of the grey-brown or grey-green sea; or a Corporation Street or High Street or Duke Street or Lord Street where you walked about and looked at the shops.
Southsea, this place was.

From Voyage in the Dark, by Jean Rhys

Some thoughts: Despite the fact that this book was written in the 1930s it is still very relevant. I had the same impression of "being born again" when I went to the United Kingdom for the first time. Everything was different, but it was not the exciting difference that you feel when you are on holidays abroad, because the difference is in your everyday life. The thing you notice the most is that the smells are different and the colours as well. The character of the novel perceives England as grey and cold, something that is very true. I wonder if English people think that their country is grey and if yes, why in the world they aren't doing anything to change it! Coming from Italy, I noticed this change in colours from the bright blue of the sky and the blinding white of the houses to the grey of the sky and the gloomy colours of streets and houses. These differences in the colours, smells and perception of your body have the capacity to make you feel happy or sad. It is difficult to adapt to a different country, where people behave differently, have other interests, other habits and other opinions on many topics. Stereotypically as it may seems, for me England smelled of a room that hasn't been aired, of fried food and curry, whereas Italy smells of freshly-baked bread, coffee and fresh tomatoes (which doesn't mean I hate England, but that I came to "like it all right"). Indeed, sometimes being in England felt like a dream and sometimes Italy seemed like a distant - but yet familiar - dream. Do places in England look alike or is it only in the perception of foreigners? There was always a little grey street and always rows of houses with chimneys and a High Street where you looked at the shops. This could come from my diary. I have the feeling that nothing has changed since the 1930s about the perceptions that foreigners (or immigrants if you prefer) have of England. Of course, the sense of "alienation" is something that cannot change, because when you move to another country you don't have all your friends and family and you don't understand what's happening around you, while people do things in that way, etc. But there is something more in this passage: the same alienation of smells that I felt.

Jean Rhys is also the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, a sort of prequel to Jane Eyre. It is the story of the mad wife of Mr Rochester, who as you might remember is from the West Indies, like the author. The novel begins with the memorable sentence "They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. But we were not in their ranks. The Jamaican ladies had never approved of my mother, 'because she pretty like pretty self' Christophine said".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

16. "July's People" by Nadine Gordimer

Year of first publication: 1981
Genre: novel
Country: South Africa

About the author: Nadine Gordimer was born near Springs, a mining town outside Johannesburg in 1923. Her parents were both Jewish immigrants, her father originally from Lithuania and her mother from England. Her sympathy towards the condition of black people in South Africa came partly from the experiences of her parents. She mixed with black people for the first time when she went to university and started to write short stories for magazines. She began publishing short stories in The New Yorker in the 1950s. The arrest of her best friend, Bettie du Toit, in 1960 and the Sharpeville massacre spurred Gordimer’s entry into the anti-apartheid movement. During this time, the South African government banned several of her works, two for lengthy periods of time. She joined the ANC when it was still an illegal movement and she was one of the first people that Nelson Mandela asked to see when he was released from prison in 1990. She achieved recognition quite early, culminating with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. In the post-apartheid period she has been an activist in the HIV/AIDS movement.
Virtually all of Gordimer's works deal with themes of love and politics, particularly concerning race in South Africa. Her first novel The Lying Days (1953) is a bildungroman about the growth of political awareness in a young white girl in small-town South Africa. In 1974 she was awarded the Booker Prize for The Conservationst (1974), the story of a wealthy white industrialist. Burger’s Daughter (1979), written just after the Soweto uprising and banned in South Africa, is the story of a woman analyzing the relationship with her father, a martyr of the antiapartheid movement.

Plot: Nadine Gordimer writes about an uprising in Soweto and in other parts of South Africa that forces the white minority to flee from their comfortable houses. The Smales family had a good relationship with their servant July, who invited them to take shelter in his village in the bush. The Smales are a liberal family and aren’t prejudiced against black people, but they were not prepared to leave their comforts and luxuries in order to live a simple and impoverished life in an African village.

Some thoughts: Having read and loved A World of Strangers, one of Gordimer’s first novels, last year I decided to cue for a couple of hours and go to a theatre to listen to her presenting her new collection of short stories, Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black. She is a very lively and witty old lady who genuinly loves Italy (she said that it resembles Africa because we live much in the streets, which I think is a compliment). In spite of that, I didn’t enjoy Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black as much as A World of Strangers, which is quite an old book, having been first published in 1958. Perhaps it’s because post-apartheid South Africa is difficult to tell in stories (and in fact only one story was, partly, about “the black issue”), but I was a bit disappointed with it. Anyway, I thought that it would be great to read one of her old novels, in order to know more about South Africa during the apartheid, which is something that Nadine Gordimer can describe very well.
In July’s People, Nadine Gordimer tells us of an uncommon family in 1980s’ South Africa: rich and liberal, the Smales are not racist, even though they enjoy the luxuries they have. For them it was normal to have black servants living in the house and to allow them to go back to their villages once every few years. They never treated July badly and insisted that he didn’t use the word “master” with them. When they are forced to leave their well-furnished seven-room house to leave inside a hut made with mud, they have difficulties to adjust to the new life. When July says that, back there, with their wine glasses and the clothes in the cupboards, they looked different, he underlines that the main difference between them is not he colour of the skin but the money, and therefore the lifestyle they are used to. In the village they are forced to live like everybody else, their privileges being erased by the loss of their house and their money. When July takes the key of the yellow bakkie, the Smales’ car, the last privilege is gone: he takes the power from them and becomes their “master”. It is unclear if July did it on purpose or not, since he is quite an ambigous character. Another symbol of Bam’s power is his gun, which gets stolen and changes the relations of power and the ways of communication between the Smales and the black people of the village. This underlines how much the question of who has the power in South Africa was related to the possession of tools, such as weapons, technology or a better education.
If the Smales in their big house could convince themselves that they were not racist, in the village it is somehow different and their prejudice feelings come out every now and then (for example when Bam asks Maureen if she couldn’t have asked a black woman to kill the kittens, as if a black person is more suited for the job). Frustrated by the fact that they are helpless and restricted to a village where they don’t know anybody, they become nervous and begin to wonder if this is how black people have always felt about South Africa, their own country. Even though Maureen is supposed to have a better relationship with July than her husband Bam, she is the one who is more stressed by the change of habits: she cannot adjust to the life in the village, whereas Bam tries to become part of the community. As a consequence, Maureen’s relationship with July is broken: there are awkward silences and misunderstandings between them. The ending is ambiguous: a helicopter is heard and Maureen runs towards it, even though she doesn’t now if it brings saviours or murderers. The good thing about July’s People is that the relationship between black people and their white upper-class masters is not stereotyped. The characters don’t have clear-cut opinions on the racial issues of South Africa: you have to understand their opinions on apartheid and on the condition of black people through small clues in the novel. In A World of Strangers, on the contrary, the characters are quite strongly pro or agaisnt apartheid, maybe too much. In spite of this flaw I liked that book best, maybe because the relationships between the characters were easier to understand. With July’s People you are never completely sure that you have understood everything: for example, is it only my imagination or were there some sexual undertones in July and Maureen’s conversations?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some more literary news!

* The Guardian, which had completely forgotten about Kamala Das's death (!), has made up for it with an obituary (here). From the article I learn that she wrote an autobiography in which there is much fiction, a book that could be described as a "biomythography". I wish I knew this word or Das's memoirs when I wrote my graduation thesis on Janet Frame's Autobiography! Now I want to read this book, it sounds so interesting (it must be all about freeing herself from domestic and sexual oppression).

* Marilynne Robinson's Home has won the Orange Prize for Fiction. It was quite expected, as everyone who read all the novels shortlisted for the prize agreed (here the reviews of a blogger friend, Lizzy). When I chose from the plots which books I'd like to read (here and here) I didn't consider Home, but other titles (for example Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction youth panel's award, anyway). Well, I don't know, I might give Home a try after all!

* Here's an interesting interview with Helen Oyeyemi, the young author of a novel called White is for Witching. The novel involves ghost stories, gothic literature (Edgar Allan Poe, Dracula, Wuthering Heights etc.) and Caribbean and Nigerian supernatural traditions. Very, very interesting. Oyeyemi is a British writer of Nigerian origin, but she is also interested in the Caribbean region (her second novel The Opposite House is about the Cuban Santeria religion!). Here's the link.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

15. “Gabriela Clove and Cinnamon” by Jorge Amado

Genre: novel
Year of first publication: 1958
Country: Brazil

In italiano: “Gabriella Garofano e Cannella” di Jorge Amado, edito da Einaudi nella collana Super ET (1989,1991) € 13

On the author: Jorge Amado was born in 1912 in Itabuna, in a region of Brazil called Bahia. He spent his childhood in the coastal town of Ilhéus and went to high school in the capital of the region, Salvador de Bahia. He started to write in literary magazines and published his first novel, O País do Carnaval, when he was 18 and his second novel Cacau came out straight after that. He had some problems because of his leftist activities and his novels where banned in Portugal, whereas he gained popularity in the rest of Europe. Because he was a communist, he went into exile twice, first in Argentina and then in Europe. He went back to Brazil in 1955 and abandoned his political activity. He wrote Gabriela, Cravo e Canela in 1958 and Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos in 1966. His work deals with the poor urban black and mulatto communities of Bahia and with the life in the areas of the cocoa trade. He is the best-known Brazilian modernist writer and possibly one of the most famous Brazilian writers ever.

Plot: The book tells two separate but related tales: first, the romance between Nacib Saad, a respectable bar owner of Syrian origin, and Gabriela, an innocent and captivating migrant worker from the impoverished interior, and second, the political struggle between the old guard of landed Cacao growers, led by the Bastos clan, and the forces of modernization, in the person of Mundinho Falcao, a wealthy young man from São Paulo. It can be read simultaneously as an unusual, charming love story, a description of the political and social forces at work in 1920s Brazil, a somewhat satirical depiction of Latin American aspirations to "modernity," and a celebration of the local culture and pleasures of Bahia.

Some thoughts: It is strange to think that this novel was first published in 1958: ten years before Cien años de soledad by García Márquez and more than twenty years before La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende. There are so many things that remind me of those writers: first of all Nacib, a Brazilian of Arabian origin, bears echos of a character in Allende’s Eva Luna: Riad Halabi. Of course Riad is profoundly different from Nacib, Riad being a Turkish middle-aged man with a cleft palate and Nacib a young Brazilian of Syrian descent, but they’re both from a part of the world which evokes tales of love, jealousy and lust – three things that feature in the two novels. In spite of this, the “lusty character” is sensual Gabriela, not the Arab Nacib. Another thing that reminds me of Allende’s novels are the smells, the colours and the exotic landscape of the novel. Gabriela Clove and Cinnamon also reminds me of García Márquez for its many characters (too many in my opinion!) and the importance of politics, especially the opposition between conservative and progressive people, between the fazendeiros and those who are merely newcomers to the town. I must say that all the politics in the book didn’t interest me that much: I was eager to read the pages concerning the love between Gabriela and Nacib. In fact, it was hard to follow the story of Mundinho Falcao and how Ilheus ended up being a modern town. Gabriela is only one of the many people who live in Ilhéus and not the most important characters in the novel (she comes in at page 100 I think), but she’s the real strength of the novel, so I think that she should have had more space!
What emerges from this novel is the conflict between tradition and innovations, the struggles of a small coastal town to become a better place to live in, and the conflict between the bourgeoisie of Ilhéus, white and elegant but a bit uptight, and the freer nature of Gabriela, who comes from the sertão, a mostly desert area further inland. She is a very poor mulatto woman who arrives in Ilhéus all dirty and barefooted and is looking for a job. She doesn’t even know what her surname is or how old she is, but she can cook and make love like no other woman in town. She sings and dances while she is doing the housework and this is one of the reasons why Nacib falls desperately in love with her. She is a free spirit, nonetheless. Even though she loves Nacib more than any other man in her life, she is unable to be faithful to him: she is not suited to be a gentleman’s wife and even appreciates the attentions of other men. Nacib is of course very jealous of Gabriela’s success with other men and this will lead to some problems in their relationship.
I can imagine that Amado’s depiction of sex life in his town, Ilhéus, must have caused scandal among his people. I just discovered that the book was made into a movie starring Marcello Mastroianni as Nacib!
This writer has very good potential, especially regarding tales of desperate love and social inequalities in the land of cocoa trade, but I want to read at least Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands before giving a clear-cut judgement on his style and his skills as a storyteller.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mario Benedetti (1920 - 2009)

Mario Benedetti (1920 - 2009) was a Uruguayan journalist, novelist and poet. From 1973 to 1985, when a dictatorship ruled his country, he lived abroad. He often wrote about exile and the dictatorships of Latin America. Wikipedia says that he was not well-known in the English-speaking world, but in the Spanish-speaking world he was considered oen of Latin America's most important 20th-century wirters. He passed away on the 17th May in Montevideo.

I bought one of his books (Andamios) during a trip to Spain. I had heard of him during Spanish classes but I had read only a couple of his poems. I was attracted by the fact that he bears my grandmother's maiden surname (his father is of Italian origin like many other Uruguayans). I really liked the book, funny in some points and very painful in other parts. This is one of his poems on dictatorship:


al "viejo" hache

Cuando era como vos me enseñaron los viejos
y también las maestras bondadosas y miopes
que libertad o muerte era una redundancia
a quién se le ocurría en un país
donde los presidentes andaban sin capangas
que la patria o la tumba era otro pleonasmo
ya que la patria funcionaba bien
en las canchas y en los pastoreos

realmente botija no sabian un corno
pobrecitos creían que libertad
era tan sólo una palabra aguda
que muerte era tan sólo grave o llana
y cárceles por suerte una palabra esdrújula

olvidaban poner el acento en el hombre

la culpa no era exactamente de ellos
sino de otros más duros y siniestros
y éstos sí
cómo nos ensartaron
con la limpia república verbal
cómo idealizaron
la vidurria de vacas y estancieros

y cómo nos vendieron un ejército
que tomaba su mate en los cuarteles

uno no siempre hace lo que quiere
uno no siempre puede
por eso estoy aquí
mirándote y echándote
de menos

por eso es que no puedo despeinarte el jopo
ni ayudarte con la tabla del nueve
ni acribillarte a pelotazos

vos sabés que tuve que elegir otros juegos
y que los jugué en serio

y jugué por ejemplo a los ladrones
y los ladrones eran policías

y jugué por ejemplo a la escondida
y si te descubrían te mataban
y jugué a la mancha
y era de sangre

botija aunque tengas pocos años
creo que hay que decirte la verdad
para que no la olvides

por eso no te oculto que me dieron picana
que casi me revientan los riñones

todas estas llagas hinchazones y heridas
que tus ojos redondos miran hipnotizados
son durísimos golpes
son botas en la cara
demasiado dolor para que te lo oculte
demasiado suplicio para que se me borre

pero también es bueno que conozcas
que tu viejo calló
o puteó como un loco
que es una linda forma de callar

que tu viejo olvidó todos los números
(por eso no podría ayudarte en las tablas)
y por lo tanto todos los teléfonos

y las calles y el color de los ojos
y los cabellos y las cicatrices
y en qué esquina
en qué bar
qué parada
qué casa

y acordarse de vos
de tu carita
lo ayudaba a callar
una cosa es morirse de dolor
y otra cosas morirse de verguenza

por eso ahora
me podés preguntar
y sobre todo
puedo yo responder

uno no siempre hace lo que quiere
pero tiene el derecho de no hacer
lo que no quiere

llorá nomás botija
son macanas
que los hombres no lloran
aquí lloramos todos

gritamos berreamos moqueamos chillamos
porque es mejor llorar que traicionar
porque es mejor llorar que traicionarsel

pero no olvides

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

R.I.P. Kamala Das

Kamala Das (1934 - 2009) was an Indian poet who wrote in English and Malayalam. She often wrote about the sexual desires of Indian women. Her somewhat controversial conversion to Islam is the reason why she changed her name from Das to Surayya. She passed away 31st May 2009. R.I.P.

The following poem is called "An Introduction" and is one of her most famous.

An Introduction

I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I am Indian, very brown, born in Malabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.
Don’t write in English, they said, English is
Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.
It is half English, half Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don’t
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
Is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware. Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain or the
Incoherent mutterings of the blazing
Funeral pyre. I was child, and later they
Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs
Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.
When I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank Pitifully.
Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending games.
Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don’t cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love … I met a man, loved him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants. a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love. In him . . . the hungry haste
Of rivers, in me . . . the oceans’ tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is I. Anywhere and,
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I
In this world, he is tightly packed like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh, it is I who make love
And then, feel shame, it is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat. I am sinner,
I am saint. I am the beloved and the
Betrayed. I have no joys that are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I.