Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)


And we go on and on,
Neither sleeping nor awake,
Towards the meeting, unaware
That we are already there.
That the silence is perfect,
And that the flesh is gone.
The call still is not heard
Nor does the Caller reveal his face.
But perhaps this might be
Oh, my love, the gift
Of the eternal Face without gestures
And of the kingdom without form!
- Gabriela Mistral

From: Gabriela Mistral – The Poet and Her Work  P.83
By: Margot Arce de Vazquez
Translated by: Helene Masslo Anderson
New York University Press

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Czeslaw Milosz (1011-2004)

Earth Again

They are incomprehensible, the things of this earth.
The lure of waters. The lure of fruits.
Lure of two breasts and the long hair of a maiden.
In rouge, in vermillion, in that color of ponds
Found only in the Green Lakes near Wilno.
An ungraspable multitudes swarm, come together
In the crinkles of tree bark, in the telescope's eye,
For an endless wedding,
For the kindling of eyes, for a sweet dance
In the elements of air, sea, earth, and subterranean caves,
So that for a short moment there is no death
And time does not unreel like a skein of yarn
Thrown into an abyss.
Czeslaw Milosz :

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)


You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,
Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty,
Blind force with accomplished shape.

Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers. And an immense bridge
Going into white fog. Here is a broken city,
And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave
When I am talking with you.

What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,
Readings for sophomore girls.
That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,
That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,
In this and only this I find salvation.

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.
Czeslaw Milosz :

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
Percy Bysshe Shelley :

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Sonnet Xvii

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Pablo Neruda :

Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

To Live in the Mercy of God

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees. How far the stems
rise, rise
before ribs of shelter

To live in the mercy of God. The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of
stony wood beneath lenient
moss bed.

And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.
To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.

To float, upheld,
as salt water
would hold you,
once you dared.


To live in the mercy of God.

To feel vibrate the enraptured

waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
to clenched fists of rock.
Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
O or Ah
uninterrupted, voice
To breathe
spray. The smoke of it.
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?
Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God's love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
flung on resistance.
Denise Levertov :

Friday, July 1, 2016

Al Purdy (1918-2000)

The Last Picture in the World

Al Purdy
From:   Beyond Remembering - The collected poems of Al Purdy. 2000.

A hunched grey shape
framed by leaves
with lake water behind
standing on our
little point of land
like a small monk
in a green monastery

                almost sculpture
except that it's alive
brooding immobile permanent
for half an hour
a blue heron
and it occurs to me
that if I were to die at this moment
that picture would accompany me
wherever I am going
for part of the way

Anna Mioduchowska

Small Island

Anna Mioduchowska
From:   In-Between Seasons. Rowan Books, 1998.

According to the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands "a remarkable thing happens to the spirit immediately after its exodus from the body. ...the baloma (which is the main form of the dead man's spirit) goes to Tuma, a small island..."
      from Bronislaw Malinowski's Magic, Science and Religion

I hope my turn to leave comes in July
and there=s someone willing to launch the scuffed canoe
loon barking in alarm at the sudden shadow
cast over its territory, annoyed ducks

let it be at the moment
the lake's precisely balanced — the sun holding it
by one end the moon by the other, water thick, shiny
crepuscular cream insects slurp
with a terrible greed

for incense, juniper will do
sweetened with fermenting leaves, an aroma
that follows from the shore, lingers on the skin
like old memories, fades with each stroke
of the paddle

the island — a black pincushion
cormorant and heron nests up and down dried up spruce trees
reclining fledglings, sleek Buddhist monks
in calm contemplation of sticks they've plucked
from the floor, the wall

until the next fish is flown in
and then the jostling, the squawking, the island lifting
quivering, cries of triumph and self-pity such perfect
cacophony against the deepening
silence —

let it be that island
let it be an old spruce trunk, even a clump
of reeds nearby, I could do worse than spend eternity
in the company of birds