Thursday, June 30, 2011

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)


by: Charles Baudelaire

N Nature's temple living pillars rise,
And words are murmured none have understood,
And man must wander through a tangled wood
Of symbols watching him with friendly eyes.

As long-drawn echoes heard far-off and dim
Mingle to one deep sound and fade away;
Vast as the night and brilliant as the day,
Colour and sound and perfume speak to him.

Some perfumes are as fragrant as a child,
Sweet as the sound of hautboys, meadow-green;
Others, corrupted, rich, exultant, wild,

Have all the expansion of things infinite:
As amber, incense, musk, and benzoin,
Which sing the sense's and the soul's delight.

Monday, June 27, 2011

H. C. Hartmann

a drawing board of winter ...

a drawing board of winter,
everything pro forma,
the evening's riders above.

wish I had a clear eye
and a sense for stars.

I am forty years old.

my legs have been sewn into
a single boot.

I am a hopper
among runners.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

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.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Anna Akhmatova

The Call
(From the "Middle Night Poems")
1963Which a sonata will you be
Hidden by me in – with a care?
How uneasily, for me
Will call you, utterly unfair
Because so close and so good
You were for me, tho’ for a moment…
Your dream – dissolving in a solvent,
Where death – just levy to the mute.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pierre Unik (1910-1945)

The Manless Society

Morning trickles over the bruised vegetables
like a drop of sweat over the lines of my hand
I crawl over the ground
with stem and wrinkled mouth
the sun swells into the canals of monstrous leaves
which recover cemeteries harbours houses
with the same sticky green zeal
then with disturbing intensity there passes through my mind
the absurdity of human groupings
in these lines of closely packed houses
like the pores of the skin
in the poignant void of terrestrial space
I hear the crying of birds of whom it used to be said
that they sang and implacable resembled stones
I see flocks of houses munching the pith of the air
factories which sing as birds once sang
roads which lose themselves in harvests of salt
pieces of sky which become dry on verdigris moss
a pulley's creaking tells us that a bucket rises in a well
it is full of limpid blood
which evaporates in the sun
nothing else will trouble this circuit on the ground
until evening
which trembles under the form of an immense pinned butterfly
at the entrance of a motionless station.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Charles Simic


Where it says snow
read teeth-marks of a virgin
Where it says knife read
you passed through my bones
like a police-whistle
Where it says table read horse
Where it says horse read my migrant's bundle
Apples are to remain apples
Each time a hat appears
think of Isaac Newton
reading the Old Testament
Remove all periods
They are scars made by words
I couldn't bring myself to say
Put a finger over each sunrise
it will blind you otherwise
That damn ant is still stirring
Will there be time left to list
all errors to replace
all hands guns owls plates
all cigars ponds woods and reach
that beer-bottle my greatest mistake
the word I allowed to be written
when I should have shouted
her name

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Time and Again

TIme and again, however well we know the landscape of love,
and the little church-yard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994)

A Smile To Remember

we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, 'be happy Henry!'
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: 'Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?'

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother

Monday, June 20, 2011

Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

One and the Same

(Anton Webern, 1883-1945)

No center, no above, no below
Ceaselessly devouring and engendering itself
Whirlpool space
And drop into height
Clarities steeply cut
By the night's flank
Black gardens of rock crystal
Flowering on a rod of smoke
White gardens exploding in the air
One space opening up
And dissolving
Space in space
All is nowhere
Place of impalpable nuptials

(»Lo Idéntico«)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973 / Parral / Chile)

‘Perhaps not to be is to be without your being.’

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


FOR one throb of the artery,
While on that old grey stone I Sat
Under the old wind-broken tree,
I knew that One is animate,
Mankind inanimate fantasy'.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822 / Horsham / England)

A Fragment: To Music

Silver key of the fountain of tears,
Where the spirit drinks till the brain is wild;
Softest grave of a thousand fears,
Where their mother, Care, like a drowsy child,
Is laid asleep in flowers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Langston Hughes

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes
To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me-
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995 / United States)

February: Thinking of Flowers

Now wind torments the field,
turning the white surface back
on itself, back and back on itself,
like an animal licking a wound.

Nothing but white--the air, the light;
only one brown milkweed pod
bobbing in the gully, smallest
brown boat on the immense tide.

A single green sprouting thing
would restore me. . . .

Then think of the tall delphinium,
swaying, or the bee when it comes
to the tongue of the burgundy lily.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stéphane Mallarmé

The Poem’s Gift

I bring you the child of an Idumean night!
Black, with pale naked bleeding wings, Light
Through the glass, burnished with gold and spice,
Through panes, still dismal, alas, and cold as ice,
Hurled itself, daybreak, against the angelic lamp.
Palm-leaves! And when it showed this relic, damp,
To that father attempting an inimical smile,
The solitude shuddered, azure, sterile.
O lullaby, with your daughter, and the innocence
Of your cold feet, greet a terrible new being:
A voice where harpsichords and viols linger,
Will you press that breast, with your withered finger,
From which Woman flows in Sibylline whiteness to
Those lips starved by the air’s virgin blue?

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

A Process in the Weather of the Heart

A process in the weather of the heart
Turns damp to dry; the golden shot
Storms in the freezing tomb.
A weather in the quarter of the veins
Turns night to day; blood in their suns
Lights up the living worm.

A process in the eye forwarns
The bones of blindness; and the womb
Drives in a death as life leaks out.

A darkness in the weather of the eye
Is half its light; the fathomed sea
Breaks on unangled land.
The seed that makes a forest of the loin
Forks half its fruit; and half drops down,
Slow in a sleeping wind.

A weather in the flesh and bone
Is damp and dry; the quick and dead
Move like two ghosts before the eye.

A process in the weather of the world
Turns ghost to ghost; each mothered child
Sits in their double shade.
A process blows the moon into the sun,
Pulls down the shabby curtains of the skin;
And the heart gives up its dead.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jane Kenyon

Briefly It Enters, and Briefly it speaks

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)

The Stranger
The Stranger (La Extranjera)

She speaks in her way of her savage seas

She has planted cactus and alien grass.

The desert zephyr fills her with its breath
And she has loved with a fierce, white passion
She never speaks of, for if she were to tell
It would be like the face of unknown stars.
Among us she may live for eighty years,
Yet always as if newly come,
Speaking a tongue that plants and whines
Only by tiny creatures understood.
And she will die here in our midst
One night of utmost suffering,
With only her fate as a pillow,
And death, silent and strange.

Gabriela Mistral

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Steely Dan


Up on the hill
People never stare
They just don't care
Chinese music under banyan trees
Here at the dude ranch above the sea
When all my dime dancin' is through
I run to you

Up on the hill
They've got time to burn
There's no return
Double helix in the sky tonight
Throw out the hardware
Let's do it right
When all my dime dancin' is through
I run to you

Up on the hill
They think I'm okay
Or so they say
Chinese music always sets me free
Angular banjoes
Sound good to me
When all my dime dancin' is through
I run to you

Alexandr Blok (1880-1921)

Don't fear death in earthly travels.
Don't fear enemies or friends.
Just listen to the words of prayers,
To pass the facets of the dreads.

Your death will come to you, and never
You shall be, else, a slave of life,
Just waiting for a dawn's favor,
From nights of poverty and strife.

She'll build with you a common law,
One will of the Eternal Reign.
And you are not condemned to slow
And everlasting deadly pain.

Monday, June 6, 2011

John Keats (1795-1821)

Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Joseph Brodsky (1940 - 1996 / Leningrad / Russia)

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.

Friday, June 3, 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

Horacio Benavides

As He Who Says Goodbye Many Times

Destiny tied and untied
I say as a sort of consolation

I ask you
in which direction can a man go
with the horizon at his back?

From the last step
your humiliations and reproaches
show me the face of your sanctity

I do not pretend to move you to pity
raise your eyes
it is the last homage to your harshness

Look at me leaving like a goblin
with my feet pointing backwards

Thursday, June 2, 2011

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)


WINE comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Carlos Bedoya


Inside of me night standing
sprinkled with white scales.

After the “good mornings”
a scale of clouds
covered with red gems.

Among bushes
dream snipers
prepare their coup de grâce.

Walking home
I remember
I have lost every house.