Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One Good Sun

Brief Reflection on the Sun
By Miroslav Holub

Thanks to the systematic work of our meteorologists,
and altogether thanks to the general labor effort,
we have all been witnesses of many solstices,
solar eclipses and even

But we have never seen the sun... more

--Translated by Ewald Osers ~ Book

One Sad Duck

from Instructions on How to Cry
By Julio Cortazar

...In order to cry, steer the imagination toward yourself, and if this proves impossible owing to having contracted the habit of believing in the exterior world, think of a duck covered with ants or of those gulfs in the Straits of Magellan into which no one sails ever. ...more

--Translated by Paul Blackburn

One Good Sonnet

My Galley Chargèd with Forgetfulness
By Thomas Wyatt

My galley chargèd with forgetfulness
Through sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
'Tween rock and rock; and eke mine enemy, alas,
That is my lord, steereth with cruelness;
And every oar a thought in readiness
As though that death were light in such a case.
An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
Of forcèd sighs and trusty fearfulness.
A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain,
Hath done the wearied cords great hindrance,
Wreathèd with error and eke with ignorance.
The stars be hid that led me to this pain,
Drownèd is Reason that should me comfort,
And I remain despairing of the port.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Laura Sheahen lives in Rome.

OGP is updated most Tuesdays.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One Good Letter

Ezra Pound to Harriet Monroe
London, 22 October 1912

Dear Harriet Monroe:

…Can't you see that until someone is honest we get nothing clear. The good work is obscured, hidden in the bad. I go about this London hunting for the real. I find paper after paper, person after person, mildly affirming the opinion of someone who hasn't cared enough about the art to tell what they actually believe.

…It isn't as if I were set in a groove. I read any number of masters and I recognize any number of kinds of excellence. But I'm sick to loathing of people who don't care for master work. Who set out as artists with no intention of producing it. Who make no effort toward the best. Who are content with publicity and the praise of reviewers.

I think the worst betrayal you could make of American poetry is to pretend for a moment that you are content with a parochial standard.

…Good art can't possibly be palatable all at once. You can't possibly pat all the semi-defunct on the head & be sincere....When I say a thing is good I mean I can read it and enjoy it & do so without fear that it will harm my style (god knows I have none in prose), sap my energies or blunt my perception of to Kalon [the beautiful]. I can find little contemporary work (some in france) which does not seem to me the worst possible stuff for a young poet to fill his or her mind with.

Great god. If a man writes six GOOD lines he is immortal, isn't that worth trying for. Isn't it worth while having one critic left who won't say a thing is good until he is ready to stake his whole position on the decision.


Ten Good Poets

William Butler Yeats
Rainer Maria Rilke
Emily Dickinson
George Herbert
Yehuda Amichai
Robert Frost
Wislawa Szymborska
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Czeslaw Milosz

One Good Senryu

her husband's
becoming a little too kind
weighs on her mind

--Translated by Makoto Ueda

One Good Tear

"You from Heaven--
Why do you deny me him? For just one tear
You carry off his deathless part..."

--Buonconte da Montefeltro via Dante. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum

One Good Poem

Ode to the Nightingale
By John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
’Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-winged dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time,
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: —Do I wake or sleep?