Saturday, 3 May 2008

Poetry in motion

It's a moving experience: tell it so

Three days ago this site celebrated May Day, with among other things Gyula Juház’s ecstatic little paean to the Red Spring of 1919. Poetry is not usually associated with Conductive Education, so including Juház’s short verse was a bit of a novelt, certainly on the Internet.

It is always hard to confirm a first but, like the buses, it it did not take long for a second and then a third to come along. By May Day evening Susie Mallett had already published some lines on her own blog. These recalled her delighted surprise at finding so much of the essential Hungary that she had first met and loved at the end of the Socialist period, still unchanged some years after the fall of the People’s Republic. The very next day, from the United States, came a brand-new blog from mother Rea Weiss, bursting into verse on behalf of her son Liam with an 'Ode to Conductive Education' in only her second posting. Maybe there is already more ‘conductive poetry’ out there, written but as yet unsung. Maybe now the ice is broken people will be bolder and make their efforts known – and compose more.

'Red Spring' translated

I have been asked what Gyula Juház’s poem means in English. As far as I can find there has been no previous English translation (never say never, though, and it would be nice to be corrected on this).

Poetry is notoriously difficult to translate in the best of circumstances, and I mean no disrespect when I say that the Hungarian language may not offer the best of circumstances. I have adopted the translation policy that I so appreciated many years ago in the incomparable Penguin Book of Russian Verse. This was one of a series dedicated to making the poetry of the chief European languages accessible to English-language readers unable read it in the original (before you ask, the series never got as far as Hungarian).

Juház’s joyous poem is therefore followed here by a ‘plain prose translation’ that readers may interpret as they will, bearing in mind the spirit and intentions of the writer and his times.

Vörös májusra vigan zöldelő
Szabad májust hadd hozzon a jövő!
Legyen majális minden napodon
Ó ember, hittel én ezt dalolom
Hittel, reménnyel május ünnepen,
Ó ember, Testvér, be szeretlek én!

This joyfully greening, crimson May, let the future yield a May that is free! Let your every day be a Mayday. O People, I sing this song with trust, with hope. O People. Brothers and sisters. Oh the love that I feel.

I do not pretend to have made this translation all by myself and I have to thank Erika and Flora, Bea and Szófi, Laci and Susie, and of course László and Tamás (Országh and Magay), for providing more than enough to argue over, even in these few brief lines. The final version, however, is mine and will of course please nobody!

Never say never

Verse certainly, doggerel possibly, but a whole new medium for sure for Conductive Education. Or is it? Yes, new on the Internet – but certainly not in the world of reality.

Disabled poet Zoltán Vitó, mentioned in Conductive Education World on 23 April, had been a pupil at the then State Institute for Motor Disorders in Budapest. He wrote the poem that follows in memory ‘A Doktornő’, Mária Hári. It was read by the actor Péter Kertész on 9 October 2004 at the memorial event to commemorate her life that was sponsored by Moira and its foundation.

„A nagy időn se... ”
(Dr. Hári Mária emlékére)

Mint a papnõk Napkelet világában
egy-egy istenség szent szolgálatában
- tükrözõdött rajtuk a fennség fénye -,
úgy lett az ő szikár, törékeny Lénye
fölkent, hû papnõje Pető Andrásnak,
ama gyógyító Szellemóriásnak,
ki az orvoslást új útra terelte
s példátlan módon lehetõvé tette,
hogy a „bénának” ítélt végtagok
- a születéstől mozdulatlanok -
évek során végzett gyakorlatok
által mégis életre keljenek
s boldog-önállóak lehessenek...
Amit kívánt az ügynek helyzete,
„főnök”-ének volt egyre jobb keze;
míg testi valójában is tehette,
szinte észrevétlen volt ott, mellette.
Tán ekkor, szolgáló éveken át
tanulta a hûség alázatát,
mert amikor a tisztelve rajongott
Mester távoztán gyászidõ borongott, -
az örökség súlyán tán megborzongva,
de egyszersmind a feladatot tudva,
- nem félt, hogy összeroppanhat alatta -
törékeny vállaival fölvállalta
mindazt, amit a hagyaték jelentett:
járni vágyó sérültek sorsa mellett
az intézménynek továbbvitelét
s a módszernek hatékony hitelét,
hisz' mindkettõt folytonos küzdelemben
óvni kellett értetlenekkel szemben.
Ismerve önmagát, nem volt kétséges,
mindezekre ő csak úgy lehet képes,
mindebbe ő csak úgy vághat bele,
ha valóságosan ott van vele
Petõ doktor eleven szelleme.
És valóban, szinte érezte őt:
Hirdette és tanította „Petőt”,
könyveket írva is õt terjesztette
és õt sugallta valamennyi tette;
a fáradtság számára ismeretlen,
hisz ő is vallja, „nincsen lehetetlen”;
nehézségeken átsegít a Jóhit, -
tanítványoknak generációit
nevelte, akiknek elmondta sokszor,
„erről ezt, meg azt mondta Pető doktor...”
A valóságtól messzire nem mennénk,
kicsiny túlzással talán nevezhetnénk
misztikusnak is e kapcsolatot, -
s szemlélőként, kinek megadatott
hogy őt utolsó éveiben lássa,
hívõn figyelve, az volt benyomása
- bár ő maga ezt szóval nem vallotta -,
Hári doktornõt két Szellem alkotta:
a teremtõ, mennyei Atya mellett
Petõ áldó keze is ott derengett...
S távoztával, most szívünk hiányt érez;
most, hogy elment mindkét Teremtőjéhez,
lelkünk tudja: már minket köt a hûség,
a küzdés vár, miénk a felelõsség,
s csak úgy jogos, csak úgy teljes az élet, -
úgy élhetünk, - ha Ők is velünk élnek.

(Zoltán Vitó)

No attempt will be made here to translate this into English, or any other language! If someone else has a go, please let me know.

Conductive Education moves people...

What has all this do with Conductive Education?

I'm not referring here to moving arms and legs (and to measuring this) but to the power to move people emotionally. It a common enough observation that those who experience Conductive Education are moved by what they have seen and done. At times too it has felt that the world might be changed. Oh, people, there really have been days when it has been bliss, very heaven, like that distant Mayday felt to Gyula Juház (as shows through even my prosaic translation).

But mere prose, the ’literature’ of Conductive Education rarely if ever puts this across to those who have never felt that way, even though feeling that way is the very essence of Conductive Education. Poetry is one way to convey this. And convey it we must. If we do not, then Conductive Education will remain as dull and dry to outsiders as almost everything that has been ever written about it. No wonder its evaluators and its would-be emulators fail to address its fundamental essence and implications.

References

Mallett, S (2008) May day in Budapest,Conductor, 1 May
http://konduktorin.blogspot.com/2008/05/may-day-in-budapest.html

Oblensky, D. (1962) Penguin Book of Russian Verse. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books

Országh, L., Magay, T. (1998) Magyár-Angól Nagyszótár. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó

Sutton, A. (2008a) Viva a revoluçaõ condutiva! Conductive Education World, 1 May
http://andrew-sutton.blogspot.com/2008/04/viva-revolua-condutiva.html

Sutton, A. (2008b) Business abroad, charity at home, Conductive Education World, 23 April
http://andrew-sutton.blogspot.com/2008/04/business-abroad-charity-at-home.html

Footnote

Younger readers (those under, say, fifty-five) might not immediately recognise the title that heads this page.

Poetry in motion, sung by Johnny Tillotson, rose to Number 2 in the US charts at the end of 1960 and made it to Number 1 in Britain in January the following year.
Audio (original soundtrack):

Video (from rather later!):

When I see my baby
What do I see?
Poetry .....
Poetry in motion...

Poetry in motion
Walkin' by my side
Her lovely locomotion
Keeps my eyes open wide

Poetry in motion
See her gentle sway
A wave out on the ocean
Could never move that way

I love every movement
There's nothing I would change
She doesn't need improvement
She's much too nice to rearrange

Poetry in motion
Dancing close to me
A flower of devotion
A-swaying gracefully

Oh
A-whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
A-whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
A-whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
Whoa

Poetry in motion
See her gentle sway
A wave out on the ocean
Could never move that way

I love every movement
There's nothing I would change
She doesn't need improvement
She's much too nice to rearrange

Poetry in motion
All that I adore
No number-nine love potion
Could make me love her more

Oh
A-whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
A-whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
[FADE]
A-whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
Whoa

Sheer poetry. They don’t write’em like that any more!

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