Daily Archives: May 18, 2011

rudera

The wind has blown; the stones lie fallen –
Oh, what rudera, oh, what detritus
Shall in its broken death invite us
And seed our fantasies like pollen?

Though we can read no truth at all in
Ruins, histories excite us:
Oh, what rude era, oh, what detritus
The wind has blown! (The stones lie, fallen.)

But dust in wind will put its call in,
And gasp of death outshout vagitus:
These are the stones of Heraclitus,
Entropy’s rudders, nolens volen’.

The wind has blown the stones. Lie, fallen!
Oh, what air, Rudra! Oh, what detritus.

What, then, is rudera? Well, are rudera, I should say. Ruins. Broken stones, perhaps with vines crawling over them. Rubble. Rudera is the plural of the Latin rudus, meaning “broken stone” or “lump of stone”. The word is probably related to rude, which in origins meant “crude, unwrought, unripe, etc.” long before it meant “socially offensive”.

It’s actually a comparatively fluid word, isn’t it, for something so solid? Well, but are broken stones really so solid? They are evidence of the flow of time – as Heraclitus (of Ephesus, where there are some stirring ruins) said, you can’t step into the same river twice. But, as he also said, the path up and the path down are the same.

What else flows? Wind, of course, as in “Dust in the Wind” (the classic Buddhist-inspired song by Kansas, a band named after a place famous for dust in the wind, but not for rudera, just for a rude era, the dirty thirties). And if you want wind, look to a storm – or to the Vedic (Hindu) god of storms and the forces of nature, Rudra.

Rudera, incidentally, is also the name of a winery in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, so named for the broken stones in the soil on which their vines grow.

The last line of the third stanza of the rondel is, I admit, cheated; nolens volens is the proper term, meaning “whether willing or not.” I had thought of using tholen, past participle of thole, but decided against it.

Oh, and vagitus means a cry, particularly that of a newborn. Which reminds me that I didn’t fit in a reference to ruach, “breath” and “spirit” – the wind of the body, connectind to the oxygen we need to live but that slowly erodes our cells. We are not made of stone, of course, not exactly: dust, rather. And such stuff as dreams are made on.