That Pleasant Prison Dream

No, I doubt I’d be that kind of father
not rural not snow no quiet window
but hot smelly New York City
seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
And five nose running brats in love with Batman
And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
like those hag masses of the 18th century
all wanting to come in and watch TV
The landlord wants his rent
Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
Impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking–
No! I should not get married and I should never get married!
But–imagine if I were to marry a beautiful sophisticated woman
tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
holding a cigarette holder in one hand and highball in the other
and we lived high up a penthouse with a huge window
from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
No I can’t imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream–

— From “Marriage,” by Gregory Corso

A Hindi poet I knew in Allahabad was, like many writers in his generation, very taken with the Beatnik poets. He had a particular desire to translate into Hindi the poem “Marriage” by Gregory Corso, but he was stuck on the line “…Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus.” We explained to him what each term meant, but in the end we had to agree that it would be pretty much impossible to translate that part elegantly. It would possibly take at least two or three footnotes, and as AK Ramanujan always used to say, in translation, “every footnote is a confession of failure.”
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