seeing for yourself

As I’ve said before on the blog (of pigs and poetry), I’ve had in mind for years now to write a poem about la matanza, but have never actually witnessed a pig slaughter. I’d just about psyched myself up to do so this year, but when the time came, the neighbour and his helpers only hobbled the pigs with ropes and then drove them away squealing.

'la matanza' decorative tile


Even this tile – given me recently by a fellow poet who hoped, I think, that it would inspire me to finish the piece I took in to the writers’ group for commentary back in December – isn’t a lot of help as it doesn’t seem to show the actual killing.

I was reminded of the fact I was prepared to witness a slaughter in order to be able to write about it when I was reading during my coffee break this morning.

The book lying on my kitchen table at the moment is a collection of short stories by Saki. It’s a perfect meal-time dipping book.

(By which I don’t mean that it goes with all different sauces and still retains its structure, substance and taste, although perhaps that’s not too far from the truth. Really, I mean that the stories are entertaining and not liable to upset the digestion, and they don’t need to be read in any particular order so you can start wherever the book happens to open. They are also short enough to read even if it’s just over a cup of coffee rather than a meal.)

Today the book opened at The Chaplet which can be read on-line here. I particularly liked this passage:

[T]he facial expression of enthusiasts who are punctuating potage St. Germain with Pagliacci is not beautiful, but it should be seen by those who are bent on observing all sides of life.

Which doesn’t, of course, say that everybody should observe all sides of life. Not even that all poets should. But it did give me something to write about as well as reminding me of another draft that I should pull from my file and work on.

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3 Responses to seeing for yourself

  1. [...] I mentioned in seeing for yourself, I’m dipping into the works of Saki each time I take a coffee [...]

  2. If memory serves me well, there is a very realistic scene of a pig slaughter in a spanish film after a novel by Miguel Delibes called “Las ratas”. It’s just like it was done traditionally in rural Spain.

    • However realistic the scene in a film, it will still lack certain sensory details – I imagine that smell and the sensations of temperature and touch are essential to this experience – so I think I might do better to go back to the book and read how Delibes described it. I’ll add it to the “pending” list!!

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