WHAT HAPPENED TO SEBALD IN MARIENBAD? CONJECTURE AND POEM,BY STEVEN BENSON

What happened to Sebald in Marienbad, when he visited there and wrote about the passion of Goethe for Ulrike, who was ..”so gently and tenderly/textured…that he almost/melted away in an upsurge of hopeful desire, felt his heartbeat throb in his throat”(“Marienbad Elegy”, about 2000, in the original translation of Michael Hamburger; later translated by Iain Galbraith , in “Across the Land and the Water”, 2011). Tess Jaray(in “A Mystery and a Confession:What did Sebald find in Marienbad”) conjectured:”Did Sebald/The poet write it because he too experienced love in Marienbad?”Interestingly,Hamburger himself, in his brief translator’s note to the poem, refers to Sebald as writing sometimes “about himself as, indirectly he did in all his texts, not excluding his cultural essays”. Hamburger, in the same “note”, also explores:

1. that “some sort of shadow had fallen on our relations in those last years”{his and Sebalds’}

2.the “shadow”, “the nature of which we shall never show for sure”, but he says that Sebald told him, in 2000, about a year before his death that “everything in his life had become enigmatic or unspeakable”(its unclear if these are Sebald’s actual wording or a transcription by Hamburger). Hamburger then goes on to argue that some of the , late, “micro-poems”(of “For years Now”, a collaboration with artist Jaray) suggest that “the shadow could have been that of death, his knowledge , kept to himself outside of these poems, of a threatening illness”(Sebald, it is thought died of a cardiac event,brought on by the car crash he did not survive in December 2001; but was there a heart condition he already knew about?)

Anyway, in light of the above speculation- and speculation  it can only be-I have written the following poem about this final enigma of Sebald’s life:

What happened

To you in

Marienbad,

Max;

Why did you

Write that

Poem-

About an

Old man

Finding  Love

Then being

Rejected?

What was

The nature of the

“Enigmatic and

Unspeakable”

Which

Envelopped

You

In your

Last

Few years?

Was it

Impending

Death;a

Foreknowledge

Brought on by

(Un?)diagnosed

Illness….?

As Jaray says,

“We shall

Never know”

……………………………………………………………………………….

Or, was it

Something else?

An accretion of

Feelings?

But then

You always were

The master

Of the

Labyrinth

Of Time:

Memory AND

Prediction;

As, in

This poem,

You

(Max),

The poet/

Narrator, and

Goethe-

All run in

Counterpoint,

To mark

The

Ephemeral

Nature of

Life and

Time

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

An interesting final observation, as a postlude:In “Rings of Saturn”, the sebaldian narrator object identifies, almost in a pathological way, with his friend Hamburger: the narrator believes he has BECOME his friend. Object identification- wanting to see the qualities of the beloved in yourself-is explored here: https://decayetude.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/sebald-linksafter-patiencethe-new-film-by-grant-gee-and-after-after-naturetrans-hamburger-2002/ and here:https://decayetude.wordpress.com/tag/eric-l-santner/

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Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

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