Peck is an intransigent, intellectual modernist in an era of various postmodernisms (perhaps his own variety of modernism is merely one of those "posts-," or perhaps we should follow Marjorie Perloff's lead and regard the "posts-" as manifestations of "late" modernism). On three occasions, however, his intellectual intransigence meets the immovable object of the literary estate: in short, he was refused permission to publish translations of two poems, & advised against publishing a 3rd. Peck's graceful responses to these imposed lacunae are indices of his verbal art:
Robert Walser: SnowMy own copy of Poems and Translations, purchased at a second-hand bookstore while on a conference jaunt, has been inscribed by Peck to an American poet far more academically famous than him; various pages have been marked with Peck's careful, even finical corrections. Aside from some pencillings of my own, the book shows no other marks of having been read. "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
[The guardians of the Walser Estate, while not objecting in principle, instructed Hí-Lö that Walser's poetry is untranslatable. With Taoist fluidity he yielded. As one of these lines has it, there comes "the snow-white world that leaves me powerless". Some cavities in the wall there are, from which no horse can drink.]
Martin Heidegger: Evening on Reichenau
["Lake silver /scatters to dark shores": a mood captured on Walahfrid's monastery island in lower Lake Konstanz, intended for Heidegger's future wife, simply by virtue of being Englished moved the Heidegger Estate to consign it unread to the altar fires: carmina incinerata est. The ash-fringed remnant retrieved in Frankfurt preserves the light of day's end, fruit hanging weighty-weightless in the hand, "in the barrens / of a great simplicity".]
Bertolt Brecht: On Reading a Recent Greek Poet (Buckow Elegies)
[Who would have guessed that one unbudgeable piece of the Berlin Wall would read "The Brecht Estate"? This poem, from a cycle showing avowed Chinese influence, concerns the Trojans and their wall, and how doom induced them to fidget with bits of wood in their three-ply gates, "itsy-bitsy /pieces of wood, fussing with them". An endnote on this poem has been left in place, as memorial to a lesser fussing.]