Wednesday, September 27, 2017

1015. To John Keats (1795 - 1821) -Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

From the beginning to your early death
a terrible beauty lay in wait for you
as good or bad luck lay in wait for others.
That beauty waited for you in the dawns
of London, or by chance in the pages of
a dictionary of mythology,
in the ordinary gifts of a normal day,
or in a face, a voice, the mortal lips
of Fanny Brawne. O posthumous Keats
snatched away from earth, blinded by time,
the nightingale on high and the Greek urn
are your eternity, o fleeting one.
You were the fire. In panic memory

you are not ashes now. You are glory.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

1014. Low Tide At St Andrews - Emily Pauline Johnson

(New Brunswick)

The long red flats stretch open to the sky,
Breathing their moisture on the August air.
The seaweeds cling with flesh-like fingers where
The rocks give shelter that the sands deny;
And wrapped in all her summer harmonies 
St Andrews sleeps beside her sleeping seas.
The far-off shores swim blue and indistinct,
Like half-lost memories of some old dream.
The listless waves that catch each sunny gleam
Are idling up the waterways land-linked,
And, yellowing along the harbour’s breast,
The light is leaping shoreward from the west.
And naked-footed children, tripping down,
Light with young laughter, daily come at eve
To gather dulse and sea clams and then heave
Their loads, returning laden to the town,
Leaving a strange grey silence when they go, 
The silence of the sands when tides are low.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

1013. Emily Dickinson - Linda Pastan

We think of her hidden in a white dress
among the folded linens and sachets
of well-kept cupboards, or just out of sight
sending jellies and notes with no address
to all the wondering Amherst neighbors.
Eccentric as New England weather
the stiff wind of her mind, stinging or gentle,
blew two half-imagined lovers off.
Yet legend won’t explain the sheer sanity
of vision, the serious mischief
of language, the economy of pain.

Monday, July 10, 2017

1012. Nikos Kazantzakis - The Mind Of Man

From: The Saviors of God. translated by Kimon Friar

The mind of man can perceive appearances only
 and never the essence of things

And not all appearances but only the appearance of matter.

And not even these appearances of matter
 but only relationships between them.

And these relationships are not real and independent
 of man for even these are his creations.

And they are not the only ones humanly possible but simply

 the most convenient for his practical and perceptive needs.

Monday, May 29, 2017

1011. Sunset Oien - Shuntaro Tanikawa

Sometimes I reread poems I wrote long ago
I don't ask textbook questions like "what was the author feeling when he wrote this?"
When you write a poem, there is nothing but the feeling of wanting to write a poem
Even if I wrote that I am sad
I know it doesn't mean that I was sad at the time

It's difficult to read my own poems critically
I had nearly forgotten them, and while they don't belong to someone else,
they can't possibly be mine
How best to take responsibility is utterly lost on me

Sometimes, unawares, I find myself moved by my own poems
Poetry ignites the lyricism that lies hidden within people
You might say it does so brazenly and without shame

I've heard that Saul Bellow said one of the most essential purposes of literature
Is to pose ethical questions
But the truth which poetry strives for is different from that of novels
Rather than the progression of time, poems concern themselves with moments

But while rereading my poems I think to myself
I can't write like this
A day is made up of more than the sunset
I can't live merely standing there before it

No matter how beautiful it may be 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

1010. Good Bones - Maggie Smith

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious ill-advised ways
I'll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
thought I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

1009. And - ShuntarĊ Tanikawa

Translated from the Japanese by William I Elliott and Kazuo Kawamure

When summer comes
the cicadas
sing again.
in my memory.
Distant countries are dim
but the universe
is right in front of your nose.
What a blessing 
that people
can die
leaving behind
only the conjunction