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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

Reading Hamlet

To the right, wasteland by the cemetery,
beyond it the river’s dull blue.
You said: ‘Go, get thee, to a nunnery
or get a fool to marry you…’

Though that’s always how Princes speak,
still, I’ve remembered the words.
As an ermine mantle let them stream,
behind him, through endless years.