Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

"Along the Hard Crust..."
Along the hard crust of deep snows,
To the secret, white house of yours,
So gentle and quiet – we both
Are walking, in silence half-lost.
And sweeter than all songs, sung ever,
Are this dream, becoming the truth,
Entwined twigs’ a-nodding with favor,
The light ring of your silver spurs...

Friday, December 30, 2011

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

Shadows, by D. H. Lawrence
And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon
my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft, strange gloom
pervades my movements and my thoughts and words
then I shall know that I am walking still
with God, we are close together now the moon's in shadow.

And if, as autumn deepens and darkens
I feel the pain of falling leaves, and stems that break in storms
and trouble and dissolution and distress
and then the softness of deep shadows folding, folding
around my soul and spirit, around my lips
so sweet, like a swoon, or more like the drowse of a low, sad song
singing darker than the nightingale, on, on to the solstice
and the silence of short days, the silence of the year, the shadow,
then I shall know that my life is moving still
with the dark earth, and drenched
with the deep oblivion of earth's lapse and renewal.

And if, in the changing phases of man's life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life
is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches
of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me—

then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
he is breaking me down to his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

Portrait Of A Figure Near Water
Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner
arsonist, held a match to her brain.
She observed her life: against her will
it survived the unwavering flame.

The barn was empty of animals.
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.

Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it
and received its calm.

So it is when we retreat in anger:
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes
no sound.

Jane Kenyon

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jose Manuel Arango (1937-2002)


men rush out on the streets
to celebrate the coming of night

the sound of a flute goes thinly into the ear
and the plazas are again places of festivity

where girls with bare backs that meet
the eyes of adolescent tellers

repeat the movements of an ancient
sacred dance

and in the clamor
of the fruit vendors
forgotten gods speak


the repeated shipwreck of the parks
at nightfall

the hour in which closed
by the graze of a somber
the heart descends to cold abodes

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Giulia Niccotai

Positive & Negative

Anything may happen
have a meaning or not have one.

It does not propose truth
it keeps the meaning open
the sense of things comes by speaking.

The measure of a page
a communication of forms
the hypothesis of a reality in motion:
a vertigo of infinite
diverse inversion.

And that which is opposed
may be always overturned
to its opposite.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Black Rook in Rainy Weather
On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, not seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Leap incandescent

Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then ---
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait's begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Carilda Oliver Labra ( Cuba )

go crazy, my love, I go crazy
When slowly I go into your mouth;
And almost without wanting, almost for nothing,
I touch you with the tip of my breast.

I touch you with the tip of my breast
And with my abandoned solitude;
And perhaps without being enamored
I go crazy, my love, I go crazy.

And my luck of the prized fruit
Burns in your lubricated and turbid hand
Like a bad promise of venom;

Though I want to kiss you knelt
When slowly I go into your mouth,
I go crazy, my love, I go crazy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bodhidharma (5th cent)

When mortals are alive, they worry about death.
When they're full, they worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great Uncertainty.

But sages don't consider the past.
And they don't worry about the future.
Nor do they cling to the present.
And from moment to moment they follow the Way.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Aubade: Lake Erie
by Thomas Merton

When sun, light handed, sows this Indian water
With a crop of cockles,
The vines arrange their tender shadows
In the sweet leafage of an artificial France.

Awake, in the frames of windows, innocent children,
Loving the blue, sprayed leaves of childish life,
Applaud the bearded corn, the bleeding grape,
And cry:
"Here is the hay-colored sun, our marvelous cousin,
Walking in the barley,
Turning the harrowed earth to growing bread,
And splicing the sweet, wounded vine.
Lift up your hitch-hiking heads
And no more fear the fever,
You fugitives, and sleepers in the fields,
Here is the hay-colored sun!"

And when their shining voices, clean as summer,
Play, like churchbells over the field,
A hundred dusty Luthers rise from the dead, unheeding,
Search the horizon for the gap-toothed grin of factories,
And grope, in the green wheat,
Toward the wood winds of the western freight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Consummation Of Grief

I even hear the mountains
the way they laugh
up and down their blue sides
and down in the water
the fish cry
and the water
is their tears.
I listen to the water
on nights I drink away
and the sadness becomes so great
I hear it in my clock
it becomes knobs upon my dresser
it becomes paper on the floor
it becomes a shoehorn
a laundry ticket
it becomes
cigarette smoke
climbing a chapel of dark vines. . .
it matters little
very little love is not so bad
or very little life
what counts
is waiting on walls
I was born for this
I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Maria Monvel

Verses of Love I

Everything about you is sweet.
To live like I live
Hanging in your love,
Like a captive world.

The world runs to my feet,
But I do not feel it.
Only your love rouses
Me like a soft wind.

You from a distance hold
Your trembling threads.
I from a distance send you
Sobs and smiles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nicanor Parra

The Last Toast
Whether we like it or not,
We have only three choices:
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And not even three
Because as the philosopher says
Yesterday is yesterday
It belongs to us only in memory:
From the rose already plucked
No more petals can be drawn.

The cards to play
Are only two:
The present and the future.

And there aren't even two
Because it's a known fact
The present doesn't exist
Except as it edges past
And is consumed...,
like youth.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

W.B. Yeats (1865-1939)


FASTEN your hair with a golden pin,
And bind up every wandering tress;
I bade my heart build these poor rhymes:
It worked at them, day out, day in,
Building a sorrowful loveliness
Out of the battles of old times.

You need but lift a pearl-pale hand,
And bind up your long hair and sigh;
And all men's hearts must burn and beat;
And candle-like foam on the dim sand,
And stars climbing the dew-dropping sky,
Live but to light your passing feet.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Public Space - 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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Po Chu-i (772-846)

Early Autumn, by Po Chü-i . Two gray hairs appear in the lit mirror, a single leaf tumbling into the courtyard. Old age slips away, nothing to do with me, and when grief comes, who does it find? Idle months and years emptying away, loved ones from long ago lost to sight, I'll play with my girl here, my little girl: we keep coaxing smiles from each other.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Kubla Khan
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Steely Dan - Reelin in the Years

Reelin' In The Years

Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
You wouldn't know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

You been tellin' me you're a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I've known you
I still don't know what you mean
The weekend at the college
Didn't turn out like you planned
The things that pass for knowledge
I can't understand


I spend a lot of money
And I spent a lot of time
The trip we made in Hollywood
Is etched upon my mind
After all the things we've done and seen
You find another man
The things you think are useless
I can't understand


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

A Psalm
When psalms surprise me with their music
And antiphons turn to rum
The Spirit sings: the bottom drops out of my soul.

And from the center of my cellar, Love, louder than thunder
Opens a heaven of naked air.

New eyes awaken.
I send Love's name into the world with wings
And songs grow up around me like a jungle.
Choirs of all creatures sing the tunes
Your Spirit played in Eden.
Zebras and antelopes and birds of paradise
Shine on the face of the abyss
And I am drunk with the great wilderness
Of the sixth day in Genesis.

But sound is never half so fair
As when that music turns to air
And the universe dies of excellence.

Sun, moon and stars
Fall from their heavenly towers.
Joys walk no longer down the blue world's shore.

Though fires loiter, lights still fly on the air of the gulf,
All fear another wind, another thunder:
Then one more voice
Snuffs all their flares in one gust.

And I go forth with no more wine and no more stars
And no more buds and no more Eden
And no more animals and no more sea:

While God sings by himself in acres of night
And walls fall down, that guarded Paradise.

Monday, December 12, 2011

John Keats

A Dream, After Reading Dante's Episode Of Paolo And Francesca
As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swooned and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So played, so charmed, so conquered, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kissed, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

John Keats

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Claude McKay (1889-1948)

The Harlem Dancer

Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes
And watcher her perfect, half-clothed body say;
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
The light gauze hanging loose about her form;
To me she seemed a proudly-swing palm
Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
Upon her swarthy neck black shiny curls
luxuriant fell; and tossing coins in praise,
The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
Devoured her shape with eager, passionate gaze;
But looking at her falsely-smiling face,
I knew her self was not in that strange place.

(from Harlem Shadows, 1922)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Zou Jingzhi


From "Yellow Tiles and Red Walls

The gate of hell, so gloomy so cold so deep and so far away,
opening and closing at the bottom of the dry well
Girls dare not bend to look in
afraid of a hand pusing from behind

Concubine Zhen died thin.
Her husband was an emperor, her mother-in-law the emperor dowager
Widowed for many years,
the dowager feared the laughter between man and woman,
feared that Zhen's graceful steps and her perfume
hooked the emperor's eye.

She ordered Zhen to die
and the emperor to love another.

Crying she said she didn't want to die or pollute the well.
If she died the other person would also perish . . .
Before she finished she was pushed
into a long distant night

She's been floating ever since

in the news
a girl who rebels against an exchange marriage
jumps into a well

translated by Wang Ping and Murar Nemet-Nejar

Friday, December 9, 2011

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

The Japanese Wife
By Charles Bukowski
O lord, he said, Japanese women,
real women, they have not forgotten,
bowing and smiling
closing the wounds men have made;
but American women will kill you like they
tear a lampshade,
American women care less than a dime,
they’ve gotten derailed,
they’re too nervous to make good:
always scowling, belly-aching,
disillusioned, overwrought;
but oh lord, say, the Japanese women:
there was this one,
I came home and the door was locked
and when I broke in she broke out the bread knife
and chased me under the bed
and her sister came
and they kept me under that bed for two days,
and when I came out, at last,
she didn’t mention attorneys,
just said, you will never wrong me again,
and I didn’t; but she died on me,
and dying, said, you can wrong me now,
and I did,
but you know, I felt worse then
than when she was living;
there was no voice, no knife,
nothing but little Japanese prints on the wall,
all those tiny people sitting by red rivers
with flying green birds,
and I took them down and put them face down
in a drawer with my shirts,
and it was the first time I realized
that she was dead, even though I buried her;
and some day I’ll take them all out again,
all the tan-faced little people
sitting happily by their bridges and huts
and mountains—
but not right now,
not just yet.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vicente Aleixandre

What I do not want
is to give you the words of day dreams.
Not to spread the image with my lips
on your face, nor with my kiss.
I take the tip of your finger
with pink nail, for my gesture,
and, in this manner of airs,
I give it back to you.
From the grace and the lightsomeness of your pillow.
And the heat of your exotic eyes.
And the light of your secret
Like the moon in the spring
a window
gives us yellow light, and a heart
seems to flow back from you to me.
It’s not that. Nor will it be. Your true sense
has already given me the peace,
the beautiful secret,
the charming dimple,
the lovely corner of your mouth
and the weary

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Luis Cernuda (1902-1963)

Remorse in Black Tie

A gray man walks the foggy street.
No one suspects. An empty body,
Empty as plains or sea or wind:
Harsh deserts under unrelenting sky.

It is the past, and now his wings
In shadow meet a pallid force;
thus hesitant remorse, at night,
Brings near its heedless shadow secretly.

Don't take that hand! The prideful ivy
Will rise about the boles of winter.
In calm, the gray lman goes unseen.
Do you not hear the dead? But earth is deaf.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nicanor Parra

Young Poets
Write as you will
In whatever style you like
Too much blood has run under the bridge
To go on believing
That only one road is right.

In poetry everything is permitted.

With only this condition of course,
You have to improve the blank page.

Nicanor Parra

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


Unlike are we, unlike, O princely Heart!
Unlike our uses and our destinies.
Our ministering two angels look surprise
On one another, as they strike athwart
Their wings in passing. Thou, bethink thee, art
A guest for queens to social pageantries,
With gages from a hundred brighter eyes
Than tears even can make mine, to play thy part
Of chief musician. What hast thou to do
With looking from the lattice-lights at me,
A poor, tired, wandering singer, singing through
The dark, and leaning up a cypress tree?
The chrism is on thine head,--on mine, the dew, -
And Death must dig the level where these agree.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


I KNOW that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My county is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Robert Bly

The Sympathies of the Long Married
by Robert Bly

Oh well, let's go on eating the grains of eternity.
What do we care about improvements in travel?
Angels sometimes cross the river on old turtles.

Shall we worry about who gets left behind?
That one bird flying through the clouds is enough.
Your sweet face at the door of the house is enough.

The two farm horses stubbornly pull the wagon.
The mad crows carry away the tablecloth.
Most of the time, we live through the night.

Let's not drive the wild angels from our door.
Maybe the mad fields of grain will move.
Maybe the troubled rocks will learn to walk.

It's all right if we're troubled by the night.
It's all right if we can't recall our own name.
It's all right if this rough music keeps on playing.

I've given up worrying about men living alone.
I do worry about the couple who live next door.
Some words heard through the screen door are enough.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Silent Lotus

Melting Mountain Snow



Let go

Of control

And are no longer

Frozen in time

The joy of your being

Will return like the serenity of nature

Melting mountain snow

To be once again

In the spring

Of the





Frets not

To and fro

As it is only love which it knows

And in your silence

It is there

Where you


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pedro Salinis (1891-1951)

Wake up. Day calls you

Wake up. Day calls you
to your life: your duty.
And to live, nothing more.
Root it out of the glum
night and the darkness
that covered your body
for which light waited
on tiptoe in the dawn.
Stand up, affirm the straight
simple will to be
a pure slender virgin.
Test your bodys metal.
cold, heat? Your blood
will tell against the snow,
or behind the window.
The colour
in your cheeks will tell.
And look at people. Rest
doing no more than adding
your perfection to another
day. Your task
is to carry your life high,
and play with it, hurl it
like a voice to the clouds
so it may retrieve the light
already gone from us.
That is your fate: to live
Do nothing.
Your work is you, nothing more.

Pedro Salinas

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

Why do people
Lavish decorations
On this set of bones
Destined to disappear
Without a trace?

No one really knows
The nature of birth
Nor the true dwelling place.
We return to the source
And turn to dust.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gu Cheng (1956-1993)

811. Poem, by Gu Cheng
Gray sky
gray road
gray buildings
in the gray rain

Through this wide grayness
walk two children
one bright red
one pale green

Friday, November 25, 2011

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


I DREAMED that one had died in a strange place
Near no accustomed hand,
And they had nailed the boards above her face,
The peasants of that land,
Wondering to lay her in that solitude,
And raised above her mound
A cross they had made out of two bits of wood,
And planted cypress round;
And left her to the indifferent stars above
Until I carved these words:
i{She was more beautiful than thy first love,}
i{But now lies under boards.}

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Black Pine Tree in an Orange Light
Tell me what you see in it :
The pine tree like a Rorschach-blot
black against the orange light :

Plant an orange pumpkin patch
which at twelve will quaintly hatch
nine black mice with ebon coach,

or walk into the orange and make
a devil's cataract of black
obscure god's eye with corkscrew fleck;

put orange mistress half in sun,
half in shade, until her skin
tattoos black leaves on tangerine.

Read black magic or holy book
or lyric of love in the orange and black
till dark is conquered by orange cock,

but more pragmatic than all this,
say how crafty the painter was
to make orange and black ambiguous.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago.Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Czeslaw Milosz

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jorge Luis Borges

A Rose and Milton

From the generations of roses
That are lost in the depths of time
I want one saved from oblivion,
One spotless rose, of all things
That ever were. Fate permits me
The gift of choosing for once
That silent flower, the last rose
That Milton held before him,
Unseen. O vermilion, or yellow
Or white rose of a ruined garden,
Your past still magically remains
Forever shines in these verses,
Gold, blood, ivory or shadow
As if in his hands, invisible rose.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

A Lament
O World! O Life! O Time!
On whose last steps I climb,
Trembling at that where I had stood before;
When will return the glory of your prime?
No more -Oh, never more!

Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight:
Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar
Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
No more -Oh, never more!

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aurelio Arturo (1909-1974)


The night is very busy
rocking one by one,
so many leaves.
And the leaves don’t fall asleep,
not all of them.

If aided by the stars,
how it trembles and jingles the infinite,
eternal canopy of heaven.

But who will cradle so many,
so many leaves,
if the day is already ascending
by the river?

(Where do this country
of the leaves
and this rustle of the
deep night sing?)

By the side of the river
come the days
of golden down,
come the nights
of fine lips.

(Where is the beautiful country
of the rivers that opens roads
for the clear wind
and the singing?)

The night is very busy
rocking one by one,
so many leaves.
And the leaves don’t fall asleep
not all of them.

If the stars could help . . .
But there are some more hidden,
but there are some leaves, some
that will never enter the night,

(Where do this country
of leaves
and this rustle of
the deep night sing?)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


But only three in all God's universe
Have heard this word thou hast said,--Himself, beside
Thee speaking, and me listening! and replied
One of us . . . that was God, . . . and laid the curse
So darkly on my eyelids, as to amerce
My sight from seeing thee,--that if I had died,
The deathweights, placed there, would have signified
Less absolute exclusion. "Nay"is worse
From God than from all others, O my friend!
Men could not part us with their worldly jars,
Nor the seas change us, nor the tempests bend;
Our hands would touch for all the mountain-bars:
And, heaven being rolled between us at the end,
We should but vow the faster for the stars.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)


How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tomas Transtromer

by Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly

Men in overalls the same color as earth rise from a ditch.
It's a transitional place, in stalemate, neither country nor city.
Construction cranes on the horizon want to take the big leap,
but the clocks are against it.
Concrete piping scattered around laps at the light with cold tongues.
Auto-body shops occupy old barns.
Stones throw shadows as sharp as objects on the moon surface.
And these sites keep on getting bigger
like the land bought with Judas' silver: "a potter's field for
burying strangers."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lew Welch (1926-1971)

The image, as in a Hexagram:

The hermit locks his door against the blizzard.
He keeps the cabin warm.

All winter long he sorts out all he has.
What was well started shall be finished.
What was not, should be thrown away.

In spring he emerges with one garment
and a single book.

The cabin is very clean.

Except for that, you'd never guess
anyone lived there.

Lew Welch

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jimyu Langge

I Love China

China’s history
A history of war
of ideas, of literature
The Chinese won’t rashly launch an attack
without cause
Everyone holding to the principle of the counter-strike
China has Daoism
Records of the Peach Blossom Garden
Buddhism took root once it came to China,
showing that the Chinese people
look for an enemy in real life
But the ideal is peace
I am against any large or small country
that imposes upon China
Only in art
do I not have a nationality
That is to say, only after more of China
can there be more of the fucking world

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Jane Kenyon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wislawa Symborska

The Joy Of Writing
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word "woods."
Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

April 18
the slime of all my yesterdays
rots in the hollow of my skull

and if my stomach would contract
because of some explicable phenomenon
such as pregnancy or constipation

I would not remember you

or that because of sleep
infrequent as a moon of greencheese
that because of food
nourishing as violet leaves
that because of these

and in a few fatal yards of grass
in a few spaces of sky and treetops

a future was lost yesterday
as easily and irretrievably
as a tennis ball at twilight

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair:
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,--
"Guess now who holds thee? "--"Death,"I said. But, there,
The silver answer rang,--"Not Death, but Love."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


by: Charles Baudelaire

HOU, O my Grief, be wise and tranquil still,
The eve is thine which even now drops down,
To carry peace or care to human will,
And in a misty veil enfolds the town.

While the vile mortals of the multitude,
By pleasure, cruel tormentor, goaded on,
Gather remorseful blossoms in light mood--
Grief, place thy hand in mine, let us be gone

Far from them. Lo, see how the vanished years,
In robes outworn lean over heaven's rim;
And from the water, smiling through her tears,

Remorse arises, and the sun grows dim;
And in the east, her long shroud trailing light,
List, O my grief, the gentle steps of Night.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

Dutch Mistress
A hotel in whose ledgers departures are more prominent than arrivals.
With wet Koh-i-noors the October rain
strokes what's left of the naked brain.
In this country laid flat for the sake of rivers,
beer smells of Germany and the seaguls are
in the air like a page's soiled corners.
Morning enters the premises with a coroner's
punctuality, puts its ear
to the ribs of a cold radiator, detects sub-zero:
the afterlife has to start somewhere.
Correspondingly, the angelic curls
grow more blond, the skin gains its distant, lordly
white, while the bedding already coils
desperately in the basement laundry.

Joseph Brodsky

Monday, November 7, 2011

Anfisa Osinnik


Renoir liked to enlarge women's eyes,
giving roundness to cheeks and lips.
Renoir liked to play with women's hair.
Excellent painter and magnificent hatter,
every hat in his pictures shouts:
I'm the spirit of nature!
When he mixed crimson, cobalt and cinnabar on his pallet,
the oil in the paint turned solar,
the sun took unceremonious walks on his canvases
without noticing the frame.
The day he died
was gray, gray, gray,
or maybe it wasn't,
or maybe he died at night.
But I think that his spirit,
looking at his own portrait
in the frame of the coffin, thought:
Here's my worst picture.
Then the spirit fled,
surely towards the sun,
surely to step on women's hats,
surely to portray angels
with enlarged eyes,
with round cheeks
and fleshy lips.
Of course the angels
wear hats now;
the angels like
natural beauty turned spiritual.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alberto Velez


She is alone.
She strokes her face with a cold hand, forcing a smile.
What weariness.
How heavy, the hour on her back.
It folds, takes shelter in her tremulous flesh.
It’s not loneliness she fears
But those necessary encounters
Hitting her with handshakes, laughter,
Jokes, opinions.
She would so much like to be alive. But she cannot.
Day after day work devours her.
Crushes her against her own bones.
If she could fly and close her eyes,
Turn into rain, or wind,
Into a child again.

But she is alone. And doesn’t dream.
Weariness flows down her cheeks
And overwhelms her,
Sinks her into a guttural sob
That strips her naked.