Saturday, March 14, 2015

979. A Tale Begun - Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.

Our ships are not yet back from Vineland.
We still have to get over the S. Gothard pass.
We've got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw's center,
gain access to King Harald the Butterpat,
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouché.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.

We've run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven't got the trucks, we haven't got the Minghs' support.
The skinny horse won't be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars' captives.
We'll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.

We don't know whom to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the Prince-Cardinal will decree,
which names Beria has still got inside his files.
They say Karol the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation, let's appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
change faiths,
pretend to be friends with the Doge,
and say that we've got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.

Time to light the fires.
Let's send a cable to grandma in Zabierzów.
Let's untie the knots in the yurt's leather straps.
May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.

But not so far
that it sees into the future.
Spare him 
that one gift,

O heavenly powers.

978. Most of the Warriors - James Kavanaugh

Most of the warriors I knew
Have settled down to gardening, and the morning Times,
Tired of stalking ghosts
and the melody of secret rhythms
above the sound of traffic
and other monotonous voices,
Finally content to stare and wonder.

Most of the warriors I knew
Have unsaddled stallions and built a fence in the backyard,
Weary of studying the clouds
And the shadows creeping across mountains
beyond the flash of neon
and other pretentious symbols,
Finally content to stare and wonder.

Most of the warriors I knew
Have died before their time and are forgotten
Save in the memory of their sons
And the dreams they seldom share
beyond the taint of time
and other unimportant measures

Finally content to stare and wonder.