Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Fiery Flower

from To the Tune 'Soaring Clouds'
By Huang O

...All night the bee
Clung trembling to the flower
Stamens. Oh my sweet perfumed
Jewel! I will allow only
My lord to possess my sacred
Lotus pond, and every night
You can make blossom in me
Flowers of fire.

--Translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

One Staring Dial

from Elegy of Fortinbras
By Zbigniew Herbert

...you knew no human thing you did not know even how to breathe

Now you have peace Hamlet you accomplished what you had to
and you have peace The rest is not silence but belongs to me
you chose the easier part an elegant thrust
but what is heroic death compared with eternal watching
with a cold apple in one's hand on a narrow chair
with a view of the ant-hill and the clock's dial

Adieu prince I have tasks a sewer project
and a decree on prostitutes and beggars
I must also elaborate a better system of prisons
since as you justly said Denmark is a prison
I go to my affairs This night is born
a star named Hamlet We shall never meet
what I shall leave will not be worth a tragedy...

--Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Opposing Moons

from The Neglected Wife
By Yi Talch'ung

...Soon came the whisper of a silken skirt.
Soon came the perfume of a jasmine flower.
Swiftly for you there rose another moon.

....I think you do not know how cruel you are,
But why was your parting gift to me
Another folding fan?

---Translated by Joan Grigsby

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One Empty Lot

from Love is finished again
By Yehuda Amichai

Love is finished again. When a tall building
is torn down and the debris cleared away, you stand there
on the square empty lot, saying: What a small
space that building stood on
with all its many floors and people.

--Translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Sleepy Husband

A War-Torn Wife 
By Chenjerai Hove

This war!
I am tired of a husband
 who never sleeps
guarding the home or on call-up,
never sleeping!

Maybe inside himself he says
"I am tired of a wife
   who never dies
so I can stop guarding."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Trembling Dog

The Promise
By Jane Hirshfield

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Incinerated Woman

from Don't Go, Don't Go
By Mirabai

 ...I would like my own body to turn into a heap of incense and sandalwood and you set a torch to it.
When I've fallen down to gray ashes, smear me on your shoulders and chest. ...

 --Version by Robert Bly

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Forgiven Lot

from A Dialogue of Self and Soul
By W.B. Yeats

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Two Tattered Stockings

from The Light-Gray Soil
By Gjertrud Schnackenberg

...O beggar, I have seen the mound of earth
When all the rivers call their fountains back.
I wore my shoes away, I wore away
The stockings from my feet, seeking the house
Where no beloved person ever died,
No father, mother, husband, wife, or child.
Earth's crust diminishing beneath my feet.
The mantle glimpsed. The churning, iron core.
My hand lies next to me, begging, unheld:
Another earth. Give me another earth.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

One Poetic Year

The present year has been, in some respects, the most awful nightmare of anxiety that the mind of man could conceive, but at least it is not dull. --T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One True Lie

...poets are almost always wrong about facts. That's because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth: which is why the truth they speak is so true...

 --William Faulkner

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zero Integrated Sentimentalists

Nor has any poet I have read of or heard of or met with been a sentimentalist. The other self, the anti-self or the antithetical self, as one may choose to name it, comes but to those who are no longer deceived, whose passion is reality.

--W.B. Yeats

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Enthusiasmless Dream

By Nina Cassian

The old rock-climber cries out in his sleep,
    Dreaming without enthusiasm
Of a great cliff immeasurably steep,
    Or of the sort of yawning chasm,
    Now far too deep,
That once, made safe by rashness, he could leap.

--Translated by Richard Wilbur

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Forethoughtful Child

In childhood I never sowed a seed unless it was perennial—and that is why my garden lasts.

--Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Two Overyellow Birds

Yellow Birds 
After Yuri of Goguryeo

In yellow sunlight on the golden road
I stand alone.
All, all are mine—rice fields and golden road,
All but the one thing I desire.

In a tree by the road two yellow birds are mating.
Why must they sing so gaily?

--Translated by Joan Grigsby

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Thin Stream

At the Water Fountain

Just as with eyes raised
The traveler at the well
Drinking water that she pours
Lets it run through his fingers
To make her go on pouring
So she pours the thin stream


One Particular Merit

To Generalize is to be an Idiot; To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit.

--William Blake

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One Ephemeral Hue

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Acid Obol

from Nike Who Hesitates
By Zbigniew Herbert

a solitary youth
he goes down the long tracks
of a war chariot
on a grey road in a grey landscape
of rocks and scattered juniper bushes

right now the scale containing his fate
abruptly falls
towards the earth

....Nike hesitates
and at last decides
to remain in that position
which sculptors taught her

she understands
that tomorrow at dawn
this boy must be found
with an open breast
closed eyes
and the acid obol of his country
under his numb tongue

--Translated by Czeslaw Milosz

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

One Bottled Message

Poetry is the great S.O.S. of loneliness.

--Anna Kamienska

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

One Incomprehensible Name

from When I Was a Boy
By Friedrich Holderlin

When I was a boy
A god often rescued me
From the shouts and the rods of men
And I played among trees and flowers
Secure in their kindness

....you delighted the heart in me

Father Helios, and like Endymion
I was your favourite,
Moon. O all

You friendly
And faithful gods
I wish you could know
How my soul has loved you.

Even though when I called to you then
It was not yet with names, and you
Never named me as people do
As though they knew one another

I knew you better
Than I have ever known them.
I understood the stillness above the sky
But never the words of men.

--Translated by David Constantine

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Two Pragmatic Loves

Since I'll only live once
I love both of you.
Since I'll only live once
I offend neither the sunray,
Nor the moonbeam!

If I lived twice
I would have loved you in this life
And loved the other in that life.
Since I only live once,
I have no choice:
I love both of you.
I offend neither the sunray
Nor the moonbeam.

--Abdulla Pashew

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Two Blear Eyes

from Blue Girls
By John Crowe Ransom

....Practice your beauty, blue girls, before it fail;
And I will cry with my loud lips and publish
Beauty which all our powers shall never establish,
It is so frail.

For I could tell you a story which is true;
I know a lady with a terrible tongue,
Blear eyes fallen from blue,
All her perfections tarnished—yet it is not long
Since she was lovelier than any of you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

One Lazy Poet

....Sometimes mountains conceal
which is beyond the mountains
so the mountains must be moved
but I lack the necessary
technical means
and the strength
and the faith
to move mountains
so you will not see it
I know
and that is why
I write

--Tadeusz Rozewicz ~ Book

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One False Apocalypse

The End of the World
By Miroslav Holub

The bird had come to the very end of its song
and the tree was dissolving under its claws.

And in the sky the clouds were twisting
and darkness flowed through all the cracks
into the sinking vessel of the landscape.

Only in the telegraph wires
a message still

C-.-o---m--e. h...o---m--e.
y-.--o---u..- h...a.-v...-e.