пятница, 13 марта 2015 г.

W.H. Auden - The Secret Agent

Control of the passes was, he saw, the key
To this new district, but who would get it?
He, the trained spy, had walked into the trap
For a bogus guide, seduced by the old tricks.


At Greenhearth was a fine site for a dam
And easy power, had they pushed the rail
Some stations nearer. They ignored his wires:
The bridges were unbuilt and trouble coming.


The street music seemed gracious now to one
For weeks up in the desert. Woken by water
Running away in the dark, he often had
Reproached the night for a companion
Dreamed of already. They would shoot, of course,
Parting easily two that were never joined.



January 1928



Разведчик
 перевод: Сибирянин Игорь 

Была проверка пропусков, проход
он видел к новому району, кому теперь доложишь?
Он, опытный шпион, поддавшись на уловки,
шел прямо в западню за мнимым гидом.

В Гринхёзе было место удобное для дамбы,
довольно было б рельсы чуть дальше проложить.
Его рекомендации генштаб проигнорировал:
мосты были разрушены, зачахло наступление.

Уличная музыка казалось теперь ласковой
из-за недель в пустыне. Разбуженный водой,
журчащей в темноте, он долго
упрекал ночь за компаньона,
храпящего уже. Конечно, расстреляют их,
нетрудно двух разъединить и так чужих друг другу.

It is an unrhymed sonnet, simple enough in surface meaning, but which has proved troubling to explicators because of its supposed lack of context. But enough 'context' is provided by an unnoticed allusion in the last line, one which Auden, fresh from the Oxford English School, had every reason to believe would be understood.
The line is taken from the Old English poem 'Wulf and Eadwacer', which is the monologue of a captive woman addressed to her outlawed lover (she is on one island, he on another). The line is: 'paet mon eape toslite5 paette naefre gesomnad waes' ('They can easily part that which was never joined together', Exeter Book, p. 180). Thus the situation is one of unconsummated love. The spy represents the individual's emotional urge to make contact with another human being ('this new district'); he is forced to act as a secret agent because the individual does not consciously recognize his love (the spy) and represses it. 'They', who ignore his wires, and eventually shoot him, represent the conscious will, the Censor, which represses the individual's emotional desires. Like John Nower in Paid on Both Sides, 'they' shoot the spy because they are unwilling to face the truth about the situation which he reveals. A later sonnet, 'Meiosis' (CS P, p. 77), works by a very similar allegory, and acts as a useful gloss on the unbuilt bridges (sexual contact). The trouble is not entirely 'their' fault, of course. The spy is betrayed by his own 'side', but also walks into a trap. The 'old tricks' which seduce him are, I think, the limiting social conventions external to the divided individual, but hardly less responsible for his inability to make human contact.

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