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