Every Monday and Friday since July 2016, we publish a poem or prose text from our 'translation workshop'.
We've named this section of the site "Omer", in memory of Omer Hadžiselimović, one of the founders of Samizdat.
Though the road turn at last
to death’s ordinary door,
and we knock there, ready
to enter and it opens
easily for us,
all the long journey
we shall have gone in chains,
fed on knowledge-apples
acrid and riddled with grubs.
We taste other food that life,
like a charitable farm-girl,
holds out to us as we pass –
but our mouths are puckered,
a taint of ash on the tongue.
It’s not joy that we’ve lost –
wildfire, it flares
in dark or shine as it will.
is common happiness,
plain bread we could eat
with the old apple of knowledge.
That old on – it griped us sometimes,
but it was firm, tart,
The ashen apple of these days
grew from poisoned soil. We are prisoners
and must eat
our ration. All the long road
in chains, even if, after all,
we come to
death’s ordinary door, with time
smiling its ordinary
Denise Levertov, January 15, 2021
MY SWEET OLD ETCETERA
my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent
war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting
isabel created hundreds
hundreds) of socks not to
mention shirts fleaproof earwarmers
etcetera wristers etcetera, my
mother hoped that
i would die etcetera
bravely of course my father used
to become hoarse talking about how it was
a privilege and if only he
could meanwhile my
self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)
Edward Estlin Cummings, January 11, 2021
So when she hears him clearing his throat
every few seconds she’s aware what he’s raking
‘s death off his mind; the next attack. The threat
of his dying has her own hands shaking.
The mangle brought it on. Taking it to bits.
She didn’t need it now he’d done with pits.
A grip from behind that seems to mean don’t go
tightens through bicep till the fingers touch.
His, his dad’s and his dad’s lifetime down below
crammed into one huge nightshift, and too much.
He keeps back death the way he keeps back phlegm
in company, curled on his tongue. Once left alone
with the last coal fire in the smokeless zone,
he hawks his cold gobful at the brightest flame,
too practised, too contemptuous to miss.
Behind the door she hears the hot coals hiss.
Tony Harrison, January 8, 2021
THE MOTIVE FOR METAPHOR
You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.
In the same way, you were happy in spring,
With the half colors of quarter-things,
The slightly brighter sky, the melting clouds,
The single bird, the obscure moon –
The obscure moon lighting and obscure world
Of things that would never be quite expressed,
Where you yourself were never quite yourself
And did not want nor have to be,
Desiring the exhilarations of changes:
The motive for metaphor, shrinking from
The weight of primary noon,
The A B C of being,
The ruddy temper, the hammer
Of red and blue, the hard sound –
Steel against intimation – the sharp flash,
The vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X.
Wallace Stevens, January 4, 2021
NEW YEAR ON DARTMOOR
This is newness: every little tawdry
Obstacle glass-wrapped and peculiar,
Glinting and clinking in a saint's falsetto. Only you
Don't know what to make of the sudden slippiness,
The blind, white, awful, inaccessible slant.
There's no getting up it by the words you know.
No getting up by elephant or wheel or shoe.
We have only come to look. You are too new
To want the world in a glass hat.
Sylvia Plath, January 1, 2021