Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One Leaky Moon

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

--Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani

One Unbiased Critic

But the great landscape architect himself, when his work had been completed, on looking at it and listening to the Gloria and Hallelujah of his angelic chorus, will have felt the craving for a clear, unbiased eye to view it with him, the eye of a critic, a connoisseur and an arbiter. With what creature, in all Paradise, will he have found that eye? With the Serpent!

--Isak Dinesen

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One Bad Script

Deus ex machina
By A.E. Stallings

Because we were good at entanglements, but not
Resolution, and made a mess of plot,
Because there was no other way to fulfil
The ancient prophecy, because the will
Of the gods demanded punishment, because
Neither recognized who the other was,
Because there was no difference between
A tragic ending and a comic scene,
Because the play was running out of time,
Because the mechanism of the sublime
Was in good working order, but needed using,
Because it was a script not of our choosing,
Because we were actors, because we knew for a fact
We were only actors, because we could not act.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One Impossible Nymph

Eurydice is impossible
If Orpheus looks away
Eurydice doubts and weeps
If Orpheus looks at her
Eurydice dies

--Thomas Merton

One Cheating Translation

The original is not faithful to the translation.

--Jorge Luis Borges

Nine Dirty Toes

To see Mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand miles I'll travel
Mad Maud sets out on dirty toes
To save her shoes from gravel.

Still I sing bonny boys,
bonny mad boys,
Bedlam boys are bonny--

For they all go bare

and they live by the air
and they want no drink nor money.

--English ballad

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

One Polleny Trail

House made of dawn.
House made of evening light.
House made of the dark cloud.
House made of male rain.
House made of dark mist.
House made of female rain.
House made of pollen.
House made of grasshoppers.

Dark cloud is at the door.
The trail out of it is dark cloud.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it.
An offering I make.
Restore my feet for me.
Restore my legs for me.
Restore my body for me.
Restore my mind for me.
Restore my voice for me.
This very day take out your spell for me.

Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily I go forth.
My interior feeling cool, may I walk.
No longer sore, may I walk.
Impervious to pain, may I walk.
With lively feelings may I walk.
As it used to be long ago, may I walk.

Happily may I walk.
Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily, on a trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk.

May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished.

--Navajo prayer