Friday, December 31, 2010

Czeslaw Milosz

Love by Czeslaw Milosz
Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jorge Luis Borges

Oh destiny of Borges
to have sailed across the diverse seas of the world
or across that single and solitary sea of diverse
to have been a part of Edinburgh, of Zurich, of the
two Cordobas,
of Colombia and of Texas,
to have returned at the end of changing generations
to the ancient lands of his forebears,
to Andalucia, to Portugal and to those counties
where the Saxon warred with the Dane and they
mixed their blood,
to have wandered through the red and tranquil
labyrinth of London,
to have grown old in so many mirrors,
to have sought in vain the marble gaze of the statues,
to have questioned lithographs, encyclopedias,
to have seen the things that men see,
death, the sluggish dawn, the plains,
and the delicate stars,
and to have seen nothing, or almost nothing
except the face of a girl from Buenos Aires
a face that does not want you to remember it.
Oh destiny of Borges,
perhaps no stranger than your own.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kutti Revathi

Your chest’s meadow has dried up
You don’t write letters these days
There’s a tumult of tears
In your tempered letters
Your body’s so tender; it makes me
Want to cover you with many arms

There is no one else on this summer street, except
The postman carrying his bag of strangled letters,
And the girl who’s lost her childhood secrets
When the strange bird of summer
That drinks up all the streams in one swift gulp
Arrives quietly, the rocks too come awake
Children refuse to play
Beneath the sun that daily soaks in blood and rises
Inside an empty house,
The telephone’s been ringing for a long time now
Girls’ eyes are afloat in the haze

In an earlier summer, too hot
For trees to stand their ground,
You had called my body a live expanse
I found, when I awoke from sleep,
That the handbag where
I had stashed away your kisses
And our quarrels stiff with the salt of tears,
Had been opened
This summer that brings to mind
A doused lamp’s acrid smell,
I’ve brought along just for you
Do write me letters. Do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Miquel Hernandes

‘It Would Have Been Less Painful’
(IX: From ‘El Rayo Que No Cesa’)

It would have been less painful if it had been
hard your complexion to my gaze, hard,
thistle your skin to my touch, thistle,
bitter-apple your voice to my ears, bitter.
Bitter-apple is your voice to my ears, bitter,
and I burn, in and around your voice, I burn,
and I’m slow to burn, what I’m slow to offer,
juniper oil, my voice for yours, juniper.
Briar is your hand, if I hold it, briar,
wave your body, if I reach for it, wave,
close to me once, yet a thousand times not close.
Heron is my pain, a slender sad heron,
alone like a breath and a cry, alone,
stubborn in its error and disgrace, stubborn.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Liu Manliu


It's a sick epoch, lungs hit me with coughing
My own lungs are getting sick with love.

My own body hits me with diseases
My own body is like a clock of our time.

Diseases attack me repeatedly
I'm plucked many times, so loud.

It's a sick time, I want to love more
and my health gets worse.

Violent coughing shakes me
I, who loves to shout, am losing my voice.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

William Butler Yeats

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Simon Armitage

The Shout
We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face

I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,

I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.

He called from over the park—I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,

from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm—
I lifted an arm.

He left town, went to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.

Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ezra Pound

A Girl by Ezra Pound
The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast-
The branches grow out of me, like arms.

Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child - so high - you are,
And all this is folly to the world.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rainer Maria Rilke

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dylan Thomas

In My Craft Or Sullen Art
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Anna Akhmatova

Solitude by Anna Akhmatova
So many stones have been thrown at me,
That I'm not frightened of them anymore,
And the pit has become a solid tower,
Tall among tall towers.
I thank the builders,
May care and sadness pass them by.
From here I'll see the sunrise earlier,
Here the sun's last ray rejoices.
And into the windows of my room
The northern breezes often fly.
And from my hand a dove eats grains of wheat...
As for my unfinished page,
The Muse's tawny hand, divinely calm
And delicate, will finish it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rita Joe

Your Buildings
Your buildings, tall and alien,
Cover the land;
Unfeeling concrete smothers,
windows glint
Like water to the sun.
No breezes blow
Through standing trees;
No scent of pine lightens my burden.
I see your buildings rising skyward,
Over the trails where once men walked,
Significant rulers of this land
Who still hold the aboriginal title
In their hearts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ali Alizadeh

Angelus Novus
After Walter Benjamin
The angry wind has shorn the feathers
off his wings.

He levitates on a fixed spot
by the highway. Is the wind

caused by the flood
of the speeding vehicles

or indeed hurled
by the rabid gods of heaven?

The angel can’t tell. He watches
the atoms of his wings’ debris

twirl in the tempest. Why
with such affection? A longing

for what? For the ruins
no doubt; for what’s been crushed

by the onslaught of the divine
tragedy. Can he save any of it

from irretrievable erasure?
Will his suitcase have room

enough for the volume
of such immeasurable loss?

He can’t tell
as yet. He floats, resists

being swallowed by the storm
and doesn’t hitch a lift.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's finger fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gabriela Mistral


I believe in my heart that when

The wounded heart sunk within the depth of God sings

It rises from the pond alive

As if new-born.

I believe in my heart that what I wring from myself

To tinge life’s canvas

With red of pallid hue, thus cloaking it

In luminous garb.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Annie Boutelle

by Annie Boutelle

And Magdalene, after seven wasted
years and dizzying hours of watching
their blindness, heads to the desert,
and this new space is a bowl God has
made for her, and sand can be prayer,
and stars eyes, and what can not be
undone, skinned, turned inside out?
Wind is her lover, the slim moon
her torch, scorpions her servants
with their wily calm, their armor—
she longs for such armor. Here each
thing shifts and slides, and nothing
can be counted, or counted upon,
the sun rules everything, even
the cave, and she has never known
such heat, its blast another kind
of God, one not to be tackled—
if this is a kiln, what mad potter
placed her here, and can sweat be
tears? her nakedness slick and proud,
can it be armor? and nothing left
between her and what comes close.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rudyard Kipling

The Way Through The Woods
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods….
But there is no road through the woods.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Anne Sexton

The Kiss
My mouth blooms like a cut.
I've been wronged all year, tedious
nights, nothing but rough elbows in them
and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
crybaby , you fool !

Before today my body was useless.
Now it's tearing at its square corners.
It's tearing old Mary's garments off, knot by knot
and see — Now it's shot full of these electric bolts.
Zing! A resurrection!

Once it was a boat, quite wooden
and with no business, no salt water under it
and in need of some paint. It was no more
than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.
She's been elected.

My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
musical instruments. Where there was silence
the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.
Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped
into fire.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ken Babstock

public space
Wandering wordless through the heat of High
Park. High summer. Counting the chipmunks
who pause and demand the scrub stand by
till their flitty, piggybacked equal signs can think
through this math of dogwood, oak-whip, mulch.
Children glue mouths to ice cream and chips, punch
and kick at the geese, while rug-thick islands
of milt-like scum sail the duckpond’s copper stillness –
Over-fat, hammerhead carp with predator brains...
We can wreck a day on the shoals of ourselves.
Cramped, you broke last night and wept at the war,
at the ionized, cobalt glow that fish-tanked the air.
We’re here to be emptied under the emptying sky,
eyes cast outward, trolling for the extraordinary.

Monday, December 6, 2010

T'ao Ch'ien

Returning To Live in the South
When young, I'd not enjoyed the common pleasures,
My nature's basic love was for the hills.
Mistakenly I fell into the worldly net,
And thus remained for thirteen years.
A bird once caged must yearn for its old forest,
A fish in a pond will long to return to the lake.
So now I want to head to southern lands,
Returning to my fields and orchards there.
About ten acres of land is all I have,
Just eight or nine rooms there in my thatched hut.
There's shade from elms and willows behind the eaves,
Before the hall are gathered peaches and plums.
Beyond the dark and distance lies a village,
The smoke above reluctant to depart.
A dog is barking somewhere down the lane,
And chickens sit atop the mulberry tree.
The mundane world has no place in my home,
My modest rooms are for the most part vacant.
At last I feel released from my confinement,
I set myself to rights again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Janaka Stagnaro

The words come
Fluttering, thundering
Returning from a journey
They only give hints at,
Tickling the imagination
And caressing the heart;
They arrive with no rules to hold them,
And drift into place--
Read aloud, perhaps senseless,
But held quietly, and they grow--
Into feelings envisioned,
Into truths admitted,
Into landscapes of us.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sylvia Plath

Child's Park Stones
In sunless air, under pines
Green to the point of blackness, some
Founding father set these lobed, warped stones
To loom in the leaf-filtered gloom
Black as the charred knuckle-bones

Of a giant or extinct
Animal, come from another
Age, another planet surely. Flanked
By the orange and fuchsia bonfire
Of azaleas, sacrosanct

These stones guard a dark repose
And keep their shapes intact while sun
Alters shadows of rose and iris ---
Long, short, long --- in the lit garden
And kindles a day's-end blaze

Colored to dull the pigment
Of azaleas, yet burnt out
Quick as they. To follow the light's tint
And intensity by midnight
By noon and throughout the brunt

Of various weathers is
To know the still heart of the stones:
Stones that take the whole summer to lose
Their dream of the winter's cold; stones
Warming at core only as

Frost forms. No man's crowbar could
Uproot them: their beards are ever-
Green. Nor do they, once in a hundred
Years, go down to drink the river:
No thirst disturbs a stone's bed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mo Fei


In that place either silent or blind
You're writing the only poem.
In the backyard of time
you've written the lines to replace words and objects.

Before the destruction you started
the poem
which no one can kidnap,
which has no beginning.
It's approaching the winter.
The pen tip gleams.
The last stroke in the dark
brings the world to a sudden halt.

Those whose ears were stolen
will never forgive.
The disaster caused by the snow storm
awoke all the intoxicated.

A gardener who keeps death and roses
is trying to learn cool wisdom
with the short days of his life.
Doors and windows are tightly closed.
How you wish you could keep your relatives here
and let trees enjoy the silent twilight.

You're doomed
to write this only poem.
The breath of the blooming words is short--
you linger on.

translated by Wang Ping and Leonard Schwartz

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Casey Kochmer

Broken Stars
Walking a summer road, following humanities trail.
Revealing light of constellations amid
scattered stars of broken glass.
Glinting remains of pepsi, 7-up and beer bottles.
Wondering if a lesson is to be found…
Nothing else comes
As man made stars destine me
to silently and hypnotically move along.

Archaeologists document:
The history of any culture is told in garbage.
By this account modern civilization
has already thrown away its tale.
Leaving me to understand:
The time of lessons
just passed on by.


If we are to be measured by what we throw away.
Then I must ask….

Why not leave behind beauty?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kutti Revathi

The tree’s shadow
Sat still beneath its canopy
Like a Greybird

As if she wished to snatch and carry away even
The protracted silence of the street,
A girl came down sweeping

It was here that
He’d asked me to wait,
Had asked my love too

The sweeper-girl
Went away long ago, taking
The silence with her, while she kept
Turning back to stare at me

Darkness has now begun to stream down
Like tears. Enchanted and fearful,
Like a body ready at last to arrive
At its own flowering, I wait

Here . . . he walks in from afar,
Like a laden cloud about to unburden
Itself of rain
At this unbearable joy,
Red stars have begun to spring in my body

The tree, though,
Is still; not perturbed in the least—
Like a Greybird