Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941

    x x x

The street awakens. She looks, exhausted With the mute windows' sullen eyes, On sleepy faces, red from the cold, That with thoughts chase the stubborn sleep away. The blackened trees with rime are covered - With trace mysterious of the night's fun, In gleaming brocade sad ones are standing, Just like the dead the alive among. The gray coat mingles, trampled upon, The forage-cup with a wreathe, a bored look, And the red arms, pressed to the ears, And the black apron with the tied books. The street awakens. She looks, unpleasant With mute windows' sullen eyes, it would seem. To sleep, in a happy thought be forgotten, What life seems to us, this is a dream!

A.S.Kline - Poetry In Translation

A Wing, a Flower

A dry, pale winged transient, over water
a day, then a day, this fifty million
times goes back to the start, more than we are,
though not even the first age.
Tiny, winged, pallid darts over
wrinkled grey water. See, in the small,
the minute, the idea, that uniqueness conceals,
the inferred, the wrong
generalisation. Time to begin
again. New, yellow flowers like stars,
tiny in oceans of grass, tormentil’s yellow.
You can’t play games with the Void,
only bow with the mind.
The wing lifts, the flower
creeps, waits, shines.

Janeen Parigrin Rastall

With beads I pray, whisper to
Vincenzo Grossi, Maria Romero,
all the novice saints. I beg
for fear to fall away – the clatter
of unlocked shackles
like the child lost
in a crowd pressing
toward a subway door,
who reaches up to grasp
any stranger’s empty hand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1192-1822)


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 :

Sharon Olds (b1942)

Japanese-American Farmhouse, California, 1942

Everything has been taken that anyone
thought worth taking. The stairs are tilted,
scattered with sycamore leaves curled
like ammonites in inland rock.
Wood shows through the paint on the frame
and the door is open--an empty room,
sunlight on the floor. All that is left
on the porch is the hollow cylinder
of an Albert's Quick Oats cardboard box
and a sewing machine. Its extraterrestrial
head is bowed, its scrolled neck
glistens. I was born, that day, near there,
in wartime, of ignorant people.
Sharon Olds :

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

The Blue Bowl

Like primitives we buried the cat
with his bowl. Bare-handed
we scraped sand and gravel
back into the hole.
They fell with a hiss
and thud on his side,
on his long red fur, the white feathers
between his toes, and his
long, not to say aquiline, nose.

We stood and brushed each other off.
There are sorrows keener than these.

Silent the rest of the day, we worked,
ate, stared, and slept. It stormed
all night; now it clears, and a robin
burbles from a dripping bush
like the neighbor who means well
but always says the wrong thing.
Jane Kenyon :

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker (Audio)

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

You Want It Darker"

If you are the dealer, I'm out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

There's a lover in the story
But the story's still the same
There's a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it's written in the scriptures
And it's not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

They're lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn't know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer, let me out of the game
If you are the healer, I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory, mine must be the shame
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

Hineni, hineni

Friday, November 11, 2016

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

To The Men Of England

Men of England, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?

Wherefore feed and clothe and save,
From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat -- nay, drink your blood?

Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil?

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?
Or what is it ye buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow another reaps;
The wealth ye find another keeps;
The robes ye weave another wears;
The arms ye forge another bears.

Sow seed, -- but let no tyrant reap;
Find wealth, -- let no imposter heap;
Weave robes, -- let not the idle wear;
Forge arms, in your defence to bear.

Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;
In halls ye deck another dwells.
Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see
The steel ye tempered glance on ye.

With plough and spade and hoe and loom,
Trace your grave, and build your tomb,
And weave your winding-sheet, till fair
England be your sepulchre!
Percy Bysshe Shelley :

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

Reading 'Hamlet'


The lot by the graves was a dusty hot land;
The river behind -- blue and cool.
You told me, 'Well, go to a convent,
Or go marry a fool...'
Princes always say that, being placid or fierce,
But I cherish this speech, short and poor --
Let it flow and shine through a thousand years,
Like from shoulders do mantles of fur.


And, as if in wrong occasion,
I said, 'Thou,' else...
And an easy smile of pleasure
Lit up dear face.

From such lapses, told or mental,
Every cheek would blaze.
I love you as forty gentle
Sisters love and bless.

Anna Akhmatova :

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Qi

Selected Poems

Parting Before Daybreak

  • by An Qi

  • First the day,
  • then daybreak,
  • and finally the time for parting.
  • Local time in Beijing is 7 o’clock according to the TV.

  • As a child, I liked to lie in bed
  • and wait for daybreak,
  • my silver broach stayed in its soft dormant curve.
  • I counted my fingers,
  • exactly ten.

  • Almost daybreak,
  • but no light in the sky.
  • At daybreak you come. Daylight is gone when you go.
  • Days with light, days without light, days come, days go.
  • You come, you go, coming and going, walking to me, and away from me.

  • Now a grown-up, I still daydream,
  • waiting for daybreak like waiting for an archaeologist
  • to excavate, patting me with a spade
  • and expose me to daylight.
  • Oh, oh, just as I feel the thrill, I see your hand leaving.