Monday, 28 July 2014

Dave Broomhead

Since Dave died last week a poem I read a while ago but had not then connected with Dave keeps going around my head. Dave inhabits both the magician (able to do spectacular deeds but aware of the limitations of what he can do) and the student (able to ask the simple but searing question). It is by Miroslav Holub, translated by George Theiner.

                    Zito the magician

To amuse His Royal Majesty he will change water into wine.
Frogs into footmen. Beetles into bailiffs. And make a Minister
out of a rat. He bows, and daisies grow from his finger-tips.
And a talking bird sits on his shoulder.


Think up something else, demands His Royal Majesty.
Think up a black star. So he thinks up a black star.
Think up dry water. So he thinks up dry water.
Think up a river bound with straw-bands. So he does.


Then along comes a student and asks: Think up sine alpha
greater than one.

And Zito grows pale and sad: Terribly sorry. Sine is
between plus one and minus one. Nothing you can do about that.
And he leaves the great royal empire, quietly weaves his way
through the throng of courtiers, to his home
                                                                         in a nutshell.

Of course, Dave would have smiled and talked of an imaginary alpha.

And now I think of Dave having retired into his nutshell.

Goodbye Dave.