Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One Good Dye

from The Channel Boat
By Yosano Akiko

What shall I wear to sleep in alone?
An under-kimono of silk crepe
dyed the hushed red of dawn.
It touches the skin
like heavy mist falls on flowers.


My husband traveler
are you sleeping now in France?
If a bird of paradise comes into your dreams
it is me.

--Translated by Janine Beichman ~ Book

One Lucky Ant

from What the Gypsies Told My Grandmother While She Was Still a Young Girl
By Charles Simic

War, illness and famine will make you their favorite grandchild.
You'll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.
You'll chop onions and pieces of your heart into the same hot skillet...

...You'll envy every ant you meet in your life and every roadside weed.
Your body and soul will sit on separate stoops chewing the same piece of gum.

Little cutie, are you for sale? the devil will say.
The undertaker will buy a toy for your grandson.
Your mind will be a hornet's nest even on your deathbed.
You will pray to God but God will have a sign that He's not to be disturbed.
Question no further, that's all I know.


One Thin Rift

from Vivien's Song
By Alfred Lord Tennyson

...It is the little rift within the lute
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all...

One Dangerous Art

Letter on Van Gogh
By Rainer Maria Rilke

...works of art are always the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further.

--Translated by Joel Agee ~ Book

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

One Cold Beam

Sun of the Sleepless
By George Gordon, Lord Byron

Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star!
Whose tearful beam glows tremulously far,
That show'st the darkness thou canst not dispel,
How like art thou to joy remember'd well!

So gleams the past, the light of other days,
Which shines, but warms not with its powerless rays;
A night-beam Sorrow watcheth to behold,
Distinct, but distant--clear--but oh, how cold!

One Good Nail

Mildew Flowers
By Tudor Arghezi

I wrote them with my nail on the plaster
On a wall of empty cracks,
In the dark, in my solitude,
Unaided by the bull lion vulture
Of Luke Mark and John,
Verses for all seasons,
Verses of the pit
Of thirst for water
And of hunger for ashes,
Verses of today.
When my angel nail was blunted
I let it grow again,
But it didn't,
Or else I knew nothing of it.

Dark. Rain beat down far off, outside.
My hand hurt me, like a claw
That can't be clenched.
I forced myself to write with my left-hand nails.

--Translated by Michael Impey and Brian Swann ~ Book

One Burnt Dollar

from Perhaps
By Wen I-To

...Perhaps you hear earthworms digging in the mud,
or listen to the root hairs of small grasses sucking up water.
Perhaps this music you are listening to is lovelier
than the swearing and cursing noises of men.

Then close your eyelids, and shut them tight.
I will let you sleep; I will let you sleep.
I will cover you lightly, lightly with yellow earth.
I will slowly, slowly let the ashes of paper money fly.

--Translated by Arthur Sze ~ Book

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

One Missing Crumb

The Folly Of Being Comforted
By William Butler Yeats

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
"Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience."

Heart cries, "No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild summer was in her gaze."

Heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.

One Pointy Turnip

The turnip farmer
pointed my road to me
with a turnip


One Snowy TV

from After a Death
By Tomas Tranströmer

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires... more

--Translated by Robert Bly ~ Book

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

One Good Day

By Czeslaw Milosz


--Translated by Czeslaw Milosz ~ Book

One Sick Zeus

On Marcus the Physician

Yesterday Dr Marcus went to see the statue of Zeus.

Though Zeus,
        &though marble,

We're burying the statue today.

--Translated by Dudley Fitts ~ Book

One Sweet Viper

She Was Beautiful and Wicked
By Nina Cassian

She was beautiful and wicked.
He was wicked and beautiful.
From head to toe
they were smeared with viper honey.

She was afraid of goodness.
Of goodness he was afraid.
Shields of sin
guarded him, guarded her.

They lived in ignorance.
They died in ignorance.
The saints still sorrow
in the silver icon.

--Translated by Laura Schiff ~ Book