Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

England in 1819
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,--
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,--mud from a muddy spring,--
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,--
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,--
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,--
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless--a book sealed;
A Senate,--Time's worst statute unrepealed,--
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestous day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Braulio Arenas (1913-1988)

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December 15, 2008
Braulio Arenas
Braulio Arenas [Chile]

The principle figure in and founder (with Enrique Gómez Correa) of the Grupo Mandrágora group (the Mandrake Group), Arenas was born in 1913 in La Serena, Chile. He began as a Surrealist, editing the magazine Leitmotiv (1941) and the anthology Actas surrealistas (1974). His book El AGC de la Mandrágora traces of the history of that group, which also included Chilean poets such as Gómez Correa, Teófilo Cid, Jorge Cáceres, and Gonzalo Rojas and the Venezuelan writer Juan Sáchez Peláez. Later in his career, he abandoned Surrealism.

Among Arenas' most important works are Luz adjunta (Adjoining Light, 1950), Discurso del gran poder (Discourse on Might, 1952),) and Poesia 1934-1959 (Poetry 1934-1959). He also wrote several novels, including Cerro caracol (1961) and El castillo de Perth (1959), as well as dramas and belle lettres.

Arenas also translated, publishing a Spanish edition of Rimbaud's Une saison en enfer and Isidore Ducasse's Poésies.

In 1984 he was awarded Chile's Premio Nacional de Literatura (the National Prize for Literature).


El mundo y su double (Santiago: Ediciones Altazor, 1941); La mujer mnemotécnica (1941)
Luz adjunta (1950); La simple vista (1951); Discurso del gran poder (Santiago: Editorial la noria, 1952); El pensamiento transmitido (1952); La gran vida (1952); Versión definitiva (1956); Poemas 1934-1959 (Santiago: Ediciones Mandrágora, 1959); La casa fantasma (Santiago: L. Rivano, 1962); Memorándum mandrágora (1985)

The Enigma's Word


On the wall in the mirror
In the hair that knots the night
In the mirror
In the tortuous passage from bird to oil
On the wall
On a balcony for each light
For every shadow for all company
Made to the measure of the two of us

You walk from cloud to cloud as if you were the rain
From enigma to enigma as if you were the only answer
You walk among glances as if you were a tear

You can't wait to see yourself as soul over the earth
For a nation of birds to appear under the ocean (the cloud will be left
[exposed to the elements)
You are still looking for the time you lost to ecstasy
When you rubbed your ring and guessed the time
For Love


I defined the word soul in accordance with your lips
I waited for the night because you were visible only in the dark
And again for a while at dawn and again and again
Sometimes for just a few seconds
And it felt like a party when you stayed the entire afternoon
Now I make out your eyes through the memory of you

For a few seconds
How can
A few seconds
Account for a lifetime

Yet those moments
Have corrected centuries of my existence
They have perfected me when I could no longer wait to kiss you
They began beating when you approached

So different one hour from the other
Hour of the heart the lip's hour my soul's hour
The bird's hour
Like an oil stain over the ocean


The plaster was trying to get its share of that joyous afternoon
[Certain stalactites behind the dark bars of a cage were singing the
eternal scream of the fireplace
[Three young women went by pressing a bunch of flowers to their
[I was about to leave with just a few minutes left before my departure.
[It was impossible to be overjoyed.
[I had a premonition that the morning would be luminous and clear
[Could the three young women be of significance in my life?
[-Bah-, I said without thinking
[But after losing sight of them I began to wonder: why had I stated
with such conviction that they were pressing a bunch of flowers to their chests?
[-Bah-, I said once again and immediately thought about those mysteries one
never quite manages to put a name to and which seem to hover in the air like bees
around the bouquets which young women press against their chests in the early hours.


The cliff is an apterous insect
The mist carries you without missing a wave
The mist makes the most of the last strands of light
And puts the last touches on its radiant tapestry

You are rehearsing your challenge on that tapestry
You insist on attracting the raft
You persist on being both cliff and shipwreck
Life anoints your lips with waves

Go back to summer to your last summer
The women and their boiled eyes** are walking across the courtyard
From so much traveling down the road of life only love can trace
The road of dream which this poem travels until it belongs to you

The sun and the moon brought their eyes to a boil
Their glances take care of the rest
Their glances are finishing the drawing
Of this moving tapestry which depicts life
A ship crosses the horizon
Slowly like pain forming inside a tear


For a better destiny
And the aroma of coffee which greets the traveler in the morning
Where the little black bull crosses the prairie
This morning I knew only about throwing projects out
Like pulling a thread through a fire

The prairie folded at the corners and suddenly hurled itself against the train
Stars cups of coffee little bulls and all
They were humming an old song
"How can the past"
Yes the past that is no longer a project
A tortuous pas that "became a cricket and waited until dawn"
Yes, until dawn and all through the night without skipping an hour
Inexorably like cream in a cold cup of coffee

And another hour will have devoured its seconds
I can't wait to kiss you at that hour
Time will never wrinkle the hour's pure face
It is a face of the hour liberated in space
Mirror of your love: I can't wait for the hour when I will see myself in you


Mouth over time
Words licked by fire
And the night is dream's grass
Like an unnecessary sea
for an indispensable shipwrecked man

Sky without railings
Without abyss without eyes
Led by the hand of
Of love

The rain is pouring down
Glass turns into night and fools the windows
The jungle turns into a bird and fools the sky
Love turns into bread crumbs to attract the sparrows
Man turns into dream. Woman turns into eyelid

Why go on?
Let's continue
Let's keep going until the poem devours its own words
And all that is left is a blank piece of paper
We will gladly exchange
for a stanza of alexandrines
Or a sip of fire water


Not a single glance is left of that eye which ten generations of cyclops cried over. The eyes of the young female bicyclops spoke to her dreams about those twenty years. Reality's pillow is standing on the other side of an avenue lined with eucalyptus trees and is mimicking the birds wearing white corsets. They your tricyclops merrily put on the corsets which are still beating, warm corsets, corsets which wear their nervousness like feathers.

Corsets and hair were all that the night allowed the young cyclops to see, seeing that he was blind for life. By cyclops are blind nowadays, just as roses don't sing like they used to. There was a time when roses sang and children cried. Not like today. They see with eyes that are wide open because of hunger. There was a time when fishes chewed tobacco and spat, a time when all the houses in the city had roofs made of gold so that chirping swallows could come to rest on them.

The blind cyclops allowed his hearing to guide him and was thus able to tell his native island apart from other islands. Now he can only make out the phosphorescent corsets that slip down this bitter night. Some of these corsets as well as the women's hair are gathered in the street. Beautiful women who fly and are happy. He goes up to them, but listens as they erase themselves all of a sudden. he again places his pillow on the ground and dreams about them, but his dream has changed. A burning diamond is stuck to the eye on his forehead and he shouts and wakes up, because there was a time when love was everything, a time when the sun was just a mirage visible from far away and not from up close.


Good-bye, good-bye word of the enigma
You have arrived.

The words have kept their word
Lips have accomplished their kisses
Eyelids accomplished their dreams

On the wall in the mirror
In the hair
In the calming murmur of the tree the birds fly
The mirror reflects the balcony where love knots the couple's neighborhood
To shed light on the enigma

Enigma of love which is always an enigma that sheds light
Creates a sky at the expense of the earth
Oh unnecessary day
For an indispensable night

Oh lucid coal
I can't wait
for the diamond hour.

*Their names are Acha, Fatima, Mariel
**I am reminded of the eyes of the "Lady of Elche"

—Translated from the Spanish by Beatriz Zeller

The Obvious Sight

A clearly interior woman
I saw her in her eyes
I hugged her around herself and kissed her on her lips
As far as her feet were concerned I took off her shoes
As far as my life is concerned she answers to it
As far as rightness was concerned the two of us were right
We possessed dream
We possessed pleasure and the value of its answer
For life
I will hold your youth in my arms for life.

A fisherman was mending his nets in your eyes
Such a beautiful afternoon I am tearing my forehead apart for a dream
I am shaking off all notion of slavery with the help of my hands
All notion of reality which now lays claim to dream

That afternoon
All the afternoons will be saying that afternoon
All of love's kisses will be repeated in that kiss
Latent love made manifest in life

Little hand among all hands destined to serve as light for my destiny
Little dream you go from here to there like lightning rides the eyes of the storm
little dream you take this little hand by the hand
The entire sun was not beyond the cherry for these lips
Therefore the swordsmen forests buried their scythes
In honor of Saint Pol Roux's daughter whose name is Divine
Because even though so little time has lapsed a furious legend has enriched the sea
This solid sea
Without exit

Monday, February 27, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
Was caught up into love, and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole
God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,
And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
The names of country, heaven, are changed away
For where thou art or shalt be, there or here;
And this . . . this lute and song . . . loved yesterday,
(The singing angels know) are only dear
Because thy name moves right in what they say.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

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.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Cat's Dream
How neatly a cat sleeps,
sleeps with its paws and its posture,
sleeps with its wicked claws,
and with its unfeeling blood,
sleeps with all the rings--
a series of burnt circles--
which have formed the odd geology
of its sand-colored tail.

I should like to sleep like a cat,
with all the fur of time,
with a tongue rough as flint,
with the dry sex of fire;
and after speaking to no one,
stretch myself over the world,
over roofs and landscapes,
with a passionate desire
to hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
would undulate, how the night
flowed through it like dark water;
and at times, it was going to fall
or possibly plunge into
the bare deserted snowdrifts.
Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
like a tiger's great-grandfather,
and would leap in the darkness over
rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night,
with episcopal ceremony
and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams;
control the obscurity
of our slumbering prowess
with your relentless heart
and the great ruff of your tail.

Translated by Alastair Reid

Submitted by Jen

Pablo Neruda

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rumi (1207-1273)

A Community of the Spirit
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in the circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd's love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don't accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover's mouth in yours.

You moan, "She left me." "He left me."
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

William Butler Yeats (1839-1922)


THE unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.

Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.

At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,
Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Li-Young Lee

Early In The Morning
While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher's ink.

She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
against hair.

My mother combs,
pulls her hair back
tight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.

But I know
it is because of the way
my mother's hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.

Li-Young Lee

Monday, February 20, 2012

Arnold de Vos

The Hand Not Given

What my father taught me
willingly or unwillingly
is to hear myself. Maybe I take after him.
From the blast furnaces of our silence
some residue has flown.
Fallen again in due time
willingly or unwillingly
I pick it up, distorted shape
burning my hands:
The hand not given.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A.S. Kline

Only One

There is only one sin,
violence in all
its manifestations.

From the abuser
to the killer,
from body to mind.

Violence against
freedom, against
integrity of being.

From the individual
to the State,
left, right, or backward.

There is only one virtue
love – in all
its manifestations,

delight in the shared,
un-violated meaning,
free truth – is love.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ko Un

Where shall we find the ninth song?
Winter has come to Munsan;
That fantastic rocks are buried under snow
Nobody comes here for pleasure now
They think there is nothing to see.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

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.

Dylan Thomas

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)


you haven't lived
until you've been in a
with nothing but one
light bulb
and 56 men
squeezed together
on cots
with everybody
at once
and some of those
deep and
gross and
from hell
your mind
almost breaks
under those
and the
unwashed socks
pissed and
and over it all
slowly circulating
much like that
emanating from
and those
in the dark
fat and
and worst of
the total
absence of
it shrouds
covers them
it's not
you get
go out
walk the
up and
past buildings
around the
and back
the samestreet
those men
were all
what has happened
and what has
it's dark
and cold

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Charles Simic

The School Of Metaphysics
Executioner happy to explain
How his wristwatch works
As he shadows me on the street.
I call him that because he is grim and officious
And wears black.

The clock on the church tower
Had stopped at five to eleven.
The morning newspapers had no date.
The gray building on the corner
Could've been a state pen,

And then he showed up with his watch,
Whose Gothic numerals
And the absence of hands
He wanted me to understand
Right then and there.

Charles Simic

Monday, February 13, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore--
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Delmira Agustini (1886-1914)

Delmira Agustini [Uruguay]

Another Race

Eros, let me lead you, Blind Father...
And at your almighty hands I ask
for his prodigal body arrayed in fire
covering mine, pale among petals of damask!

Today the electric corolla I unfurl
offers the attar of a garden of Wives;
for his vultures in my flesh, their fee,
I give up a whole cote of pint doves.

Give my feverish stem to the twinned cruel serpent
of his embrace...Absinthe and honey spent
in me for his utter veins and from his mouth...

I am one ardent furrow stretched
where the seed of another race will flourish
feeding madness and beauty both!

—Translated from the Spanish by Karl Kirchwey

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

A Song Of Despair
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

Ars Poetica
By Paul Verlaine 1844–1896 Paul Verlaine
Translated By Norman R. Shapiro

for Charles Morice

Music first and foremost! In your verse,
Choose those meters odd of syllable,
Supple in the air, vague, flexible,
Free of pounding beat, heavy or terse.

Choose the words you use—now right, now wrong—
With abandon: when the poet’s vision
Couples the Precise with Imprecision,
Best the giddy shadows of his song:

Eyes veiled, hidden, dark with mystery,
Sunshine trembling in the noonday glare,
Starlight, in the tepid autumn air,
Shimmering in night-blue filigree!

For Nuance, not Color absolute,
Is your goal; subtle and shaded hue!
Nuance! It alone is what lets you
Marry dream to dream, and horn to flute!

Shun all cruel and ruthless Railleries;
Hurtful Quip, lewd Laughter, that appall
Heaven, Azure-eyed, to tears; and all
Garlic-stench scullery recipes!

Take vain Eloquence and wring its neck!
Best you keep your Rhyme sober and sound,
Lest it wander, reinless and unbound—
How far? Who can say?—if not in check!

Rhyme! Who will its infamies revile?
What deaf child, what Black of little wit
Forged with worthless bauble, fashioned it
False and hollow-sounding to the file?

Music first and foremost, and forever!
Let your verse be what goes soaring, sighing,
Set free, fleeing from the soul gone flying
Off to other skies and loves, wherever.

Let your verse be aimless chance, delighting
In good-omened fortune, sprinkled over
Dawn’s wind, bristling scents of mint, thyme, clover . . .
All the rest is nothing more than writing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wendell Berry

The Wish to Be Generous
All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

W. B. 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.}

Monday, February 6, 2012

Li-Young Lee

Eating Together
In the steamer is the trout
seasoned with slivers of ginger,
two sprigs of green onion, and sesame oil.
We shall eat it with rice for lunch,
brothers, sister, my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.

Li-Young Lee

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Charles Beaudelaire (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.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)


I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I overturn
The ashes at thy feet. Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen grayness. If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps. But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
The gray dust up, . . . those laurels on thine head,
O my Beloved, will not shield thee so,
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath. Stand farther off then! go.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)

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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gary Snyder

Those are the people who do complicated things.

they'll grab us by the thousands
and put us to work.

World's going to hell, with all these
villages and trails.
Wild duck flocks aren't
what they used to be.
Aurochs grow rare.

Fetch me my feathers and amber


A small cricket
on the typescript page of
"Kyoto born in spring song"
grooms himself
in time with The Well-Tempered Clavier.
I quit typing and watch him through a glass.
How well articulated! How neat!

Nobody understands the ANIMAL KINGDOM.


When creeks are full
The poems flow
When creeks are down
We heap stones.

Gary Snyder