Imants Ziedonis (my translation from the Latvian)
From which level are we speaking? Dialogues can be sorted by their levels. For example, first level dialogue. On the first level, the blind speak with the blind, the mute with the deaf, eater with eater, sleeper with sleeper. Here belong discussions of the weather and illnesses, of how clever your toddler is, and of how scandalous are the carryings-on of your neighbour Julie.
Why are many people unable to converse, they begin then fall silent? The flow breaks off. There’s nothing to talk about. The reason is, they are each talking on different levels.
One speaks on the first level, another - on the second. What can you say through the floor? What can you hear through the ceiling? On another floor they talk with a sharper wit, and a more twisted tongue.
Here they play tennis with word-balls: ver-balls. Serve demands volley, volley demands counter-volley. Here they skillfully serve and snatch, spike and block. Here dwell the acrobats and jugglers. Here they hide behind words, like hiding behind flower pots in a Goldoni comedy. It is fowl play. Words flirt, vowels the coquettes, the consonants amorous. Anecdotes are told here. Playful light shines on the word-shifting mosaics. Will we eat these gingerbread biscuits, or decorate the fir tree with them? Will our words today be cardamom, cinnamon or vanilla?
On another level, bread is talking. Self baked bread speaks. The word, mashed into other words, itself waits to rise. The word led the chef, and stoked up the oven. Yes, the crust has sprung back, this time the crust has sprung back, but leaven again in the Spring, and it will not do so. Here the stones also speak. The stones you throw through windows, and the stone on which you build foundations.
And here, the tarpaulin speaks. That the rain may not drip through. And if here the lacework speaks, then so also do the knitting needles.
And these are not the only levels, and perhaps their sequence differs. But the tongue knows, that the word is the staple bread, the energy-giver, my energy and your energy.
And when I am failing strength, will your words come and help me?
When my words will be Jairus’s daughter, will your words be their Jesus of Nazareth?
Will your words raise me from the dead?
Imants Ziedonis (1933-2013)
Latvian original (1971):