Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One Disenchanted Frog

The Frog Prince
By Stevie Smith

I am a frog
I live under a spell
I live at the bottom
Of a green well

And here I must wait
Until a maiden places me
On her royal pillow
And kisses me
In her father's palace.

The story is familiar
Everybody knows it well
But do other enchanted people feel as nervous
As I do? The stories do not tell,

Ask if they will be happier
When the changes come
As already they are fairly happy
In a frog's doom?

I have been a frog now
For a hundred years
And in all this time
I have not shed many tears.

I am happy, I like the life,
Can swim for many a mile
(When I have hopped to the river)
And am for ever agile.

And the quietness,
Yes, I like to be quiet
I am habituated
To a quiet life.

But always when I think these thoughts
As I sit in my well
Another thought comes to me and says:
It is part of the spell

To be happy
To work up contentment
To make much of being a frog
To fear disenchantment

Says, it will be heavenly
To be set free,
Cries, heavenly the girl who disenchants
And the royal times, heavenly,
And I think it will be.

Come then, royal girl and royal times,
Come quickly,
I can be happy until you come
But I cannot be heavenly,
Only disenchanted people
Can be heavenly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One Insufficient Earth

from Merciful God
By Kadya Molodowsky

Merciful God,
Choose another people,
Elect another.

We are tired of death and dying,
We have no more prayers.

Choose another people,
Elect another.

We have no more blood
To be a sacrifice.
Our house has become a desert.
The earth is insufficient for our graves,
No more laments for us,
No more dirges
In the old, holy books.

Merciful God,
Sanctify another country,
Another mountain.

We have strewn all the fields and every stone
With ash, with holy ash.
With the aged,
With the youthful,
And with babies, we have paid
For every letter of your Ten Commandments...

--Translated by Kathryn Hellerstein ~ Book

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One Re-Reddened Pepper

Sudden radiance...
After October rainstorm
re-reddened peppers

--Buson, translated by Peter Beilenson

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

One Great Yes

Che Fece… Il Gran Refiuto
By C.P. Cavafy

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
drags him down all his life.

Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Two Great Gifts

Art offers two great gifts of emotion: the emotion of recognition and the emotion of escape.

--Duncan Phillips

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One Endless Winter

from The Sonnets to Orpheus
By Rainer Maria Rilke

Be ahead of all parting, as though it were
already behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering it through will your heart survive.