Tuesday, December 25, 2007

One Fatiguing Occupation

from Baudelaire
By Delmore Schwartz

...You know my strange life. Every day brings
Its quota of wrath. You little know
A poet's life, dear Mother: I must write poems,
The most fatiguing of occupations.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One Missing Flashlight

A Contribution to Statistics
By Wislawa Szymborska

Out of a hundred people

those who always know better

doubting every step
-nearly all the rest,

glad to lend a hand
if it doesn't take too long
-as high as forty-nine,

always good
because they can't be otherwise
-four, well maybe five,

able to admire without envy

suffering illusions
induced by fleeting youth
-sixty, give or take a few,

not to be taken lightly
-forty and four,

living in constant fear
of someone or something

capable of happiness
-twenty-something tops,

harmless singly, savage in crowds
-half at least,

when forced by circumstances
-better not to know
even ballpark figures,

wise after the fact
-just a couple more
than wise before it,

taking only things from life
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
sooner or later,

-thirty-five, which is a lot,

and understanding

worthy of compassion

-a hundred out of a hundred.
thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

~Translated by Clare Cavanaugh

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One Tempting Rhyme

from Seven-Sided Poem
By Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Universe, vast universe
if I had been named Eugene
that would not be what I mean
but it would go into verse
Universe, vast universe
my heart is vaster.

Translated by Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One Vertiginous Clamber

A Deep-Sworn Vow
By William Butler Yeats

Others because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.