Flowers and the world

Çavuşin, Cappadocia, Turkey
A few weeks back, I spent a few days in Cappadocia for the first time in almost 15 years. What memories I have of the place were mostly layered in the underground cities; as a consequence, everything left above ground came to me through the filtered glass of growing up.

One line of poetry that kept running through my head as we were wandering here and there was "the abandoned homesteads of exiles." I didn't remember any of the rest of it and so was left mostly just turning that line over and over in my mouth, the way that one might take a small stone and turn it nervously in one's hand.

It's now been some time since the immediacy of that stroll, but I finally took a moment to search for the rest of the poem (even if I started searching for the wrong poet). The line comes from an Adam Zagajewski poem, "Try to Praise the Mutilated World," and begins:
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
(The poem, in full, can be found here.) The poem, I think, raises all sorts of troubling questions about the responsibility of poetry to confront questions of loss, violence, death, dispossession. Zagajewski seems to come down on the side of praising what beauty exists in the world, in spite of its violence. In a way, I suppose it's fitting to read the poem in full against a photo of Çavuşin, insofar as the current Turkish village sits at the base of the older, now abandoned, Greek village.


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