Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One Great Ge

Not another lament for the makers
By Aileen Kelly

What can you do with the pissed-off major poets?
Five marvellous books, translated to diverse tongues yet
toaded by work all day, half-drunk at night,
their trousers bagged by stones of unhappiness, even
on Margate sands among sunny kids and sundried oldsters
they groan with humanity’s torment and angle deathwards
so ignited, so solipsistic or red or straight,
mourning lost lovers, icons and apposite breakdowns.

Great Ge of death and birth, can’t you recycle them
into multiple minor poets who’d suckle for years
each on the juice of their one great poem and ever
party with whoopee streamers and rockets towards you
down to a last careless and satisfied breath?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One Stalking Foot

They Flee from Me
By Sir Thomas Wyatt

They flee from me, that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot stalking in my chamber:
Once have I seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild, and do not once remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with continual change.

Thanked be Fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once especial,
In thin array, after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown did from her shoulders fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small,
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, 'Dear heart, how like you this?'

It was no dream; I lay broad awaking:
But all is turn'd now through my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness;
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I unkindly so am served
How like you this, what hath she now deserved?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One Sneaky Pelt

Love Song

If I might be an ox,
An ox, a beautiful ox,
Beautiful but stubborn;
The merchant would buy me,
Would buy and slaughter me,
Would spread my skin,
Would bring me to the market.
The coarse woman would bargain for me;
The beautiful girl would buy me.
She would crush perfumes for me;
I would spend the night rolled up around her;
I would spend the afternoon rolled up around her.
Her husband would say: "It is a dead skin!"
But I would have my love!

--Ethiopian, translated by Enrico Cerulli

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One Suicidal Flower

Go, Lovely Rose
By Edmund Waller

Go, lovely Rose—
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that's young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired:
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.

Then die! —That she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

One Transmogrifying Bee

Janet Waking
By John Crowe Ransom

Beautifully Janet slept
Till it was deeply morning. She woke then
And thought about her dainty-feathered hen,
To see how it had kept.

One kiss she gave her mother,
Only a small one gave she to her daddy
Who would have kissed each curl of his shining baby;
No kiss at all for her brother.

"Old Chucky, Old Chucky!" she cried,
Running on little pink feet upon the grass
To Chucky’s house, and listening. But alas,
Her Chucky had died.

It was a transmogrifying bee
Came droning down on Chucky’s old bald head
And sat and put the poison. It scarcely bled,
But how exceedingly

And purply did the knot
Swell with the venom and communicate
Its rigour! Now the poor comb stood up straight
But Chucky did not.

So there was Janet
Kneeling on the wet grass, crying her brown hen
(Translated far beyond the daughters of men)
To rise and walk upon it.

And weeping fast as she had breath
Janet implored us, “Wake her from her sleep!”
And would not be instructed in how deep
Was the forgetful kingdom of death.