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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.



Who is he?

A railroad track toward hell?

Breaking like a stick of furniture?

The hope that suddenly overflows the cesspool?

The love that goes down the drain like spit?

The love that said forever, forever

and then runs you over like a truck?

Are you a prayer that floats into a radio advertisement?


I don't like you very well.

You don't suit my clothes or my cigarettes.

Why do you locate here

as large as a tank,

aiming at one half of a lifetime?

Couldn't you just go float into a tree

instead of locating here at my roots,

forcing me out of the life I've led

when it's been my belly so long?


All right!

I'll take you along on the trip

where for so many years

my arms have been speechless.


Anne Sexton, May 29, 2023






I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed — and gazed — but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth, May 26, 2023








Ni trodde att mina hus

var av guld och silver


de är av sten och trä


så som min kropp är av ben och kött

Pentti Saarikoski, May 22, 2023





(Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")


In a solitude of the sea

Deep from human vanity,

And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.



Steel chambers, late the pyres

Of her salamandrine fires,

Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.



Over the mirrors meant

To glass the opulent

The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.



Jewels in joy designed

To ravish the sensuous mind

Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.



Dim moon-eyed fishes near

Gaze at the gilded gear

And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" ...



Well: while was fashioning

This creature of cleaving wing,

The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything



Prepared a sinister mate

For her — so gaily great —

A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.



And as the smart ship grew

In stature, grace, and hue,

In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.



Alien they seemed to be;

No mortal eye could see

The intimate welding of their later history,



Or sign that they were bent

By paths coincident

On being anon twin halves of one august event,



Till the Spinner of the Years

Said "Now!" And each one hears,

And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.


Thomas Hardy, May 19, 2023






1912. Captain Robert Scott
reaches the South Pole also. Except he got
there later than Amundsen. He stares at ice,
thinks of his family, prays, and dies.
Ice, however, is not through yet.
S.S. Titanic hits an iceberg at
full speed and goes down. The bell grimly tolls
at Lloyd's in London. Fifteen hundred souls
are lost, if not more. Therefore, let's turn
to Romania where Eugene Ionesco's born
or to Turkey and her Balkan neighbors: each
one of them feels an itch to reach
for the gun; on reflection, though, they abandon
the idea. It's peace everywhere. In London
by now there are five hundred movie theaters
which makes an issue of baby-sitters.
At home, after having less done than said;
Woodrow Wilson becomes the Prez. Dead-set
to pocket the dizzy with flipping coin
New Mexico and Arizona join
the Union. For all its steel mills and farms
the Union keeps currently under arms
only one hundred thousand men. That's barmy
considering five million in the Russian Army,
or four million in Germany, or the French
who, too, have as many to fill a trench.
This sounds to some like a lack of caution.
But then there is the Atlantic Ocean
between the Continent and the U.S.,
and it's only 1912, God bless,
and the hemispheres luckily seem unable
to play the now popular Cain and Abel.

The man of the year is both short and tall.
He's nameless, and well he should
stay nameless: for spoiling for us free fall
by using a parachute.

(Captain Albert Berry)

"Leaving home with umbrella? Take a parachute!
When it rains from below, that is when they shoot
down a plane and its pilot objects to die,
when you wand to grab Holland or drop a spy
behind enemy lines, you need parachutes.
O, they'll be more popular than a pair of shoes.
In their soft descent they suggest a dove.
Aye! it's not only love that comes from above!"


Joseph Brodsky, May 15, 2023




The best is, in war or faction or ordinary vindictive 
life, not to take sides. 
Leave it for children, and the emotional rabble of the 
streets, to back their horse or support a brawler. 
But if you are forced into it: remember that good and 
evil are as common as air, and like air shared 
By the panting belligerents; the moral indignation that 
hoarsens orators is mostly a fool. 
Hold your nose and compromise; keep a cold mind. Fight, 
if needs must; hate no one. Do as God does, 
Or the tragic poets: they crush their man without hating 
him, their Lear or Hitler, and often save without 
As for these quarrels, they are like the moon, recurrent 
and fantastic. They have their beauty but night's is better. 
It is better to be silent than make a noise. It is better 
to strike dead than strike often. It is better not 
to strike.


Robinson Jeffers, May 12, 2023






Ever since doubt has invaded the cities, there is no

place to park on the weekends at either the south

or the north entrance to the primeval Vedema forest.

A great many sunglasses flutter before the map board

unable to decide between the blue, yellow or green.

I don’t see any difference, but we won’t meet them

again as you and I always take the red-dotted path.

It’s a demanding terrain for walking, filled with both

risk and disappointment, but on a long summer day

you’re rewarded with giant anthills (billions of

believers yet no religion), skinny dipping in the

Naked Lake, blackthorn buckshots…


On the red trail that everyone avoids, only a park

officer may show up: a fairy in white, who, wearing

a crown on his head like a customs cap, reconciles

lists at intersections, or a student intern, carrying

a can of paint in one hand, slapping the brushwood

and stamping the trunks with the brush in the other.

I, too, want a job in the forest: to, like an oak tree or

a pine, claim and wear a bloody dot on my chest,

like a medal. And to emerge from twilight in front of

wandering hikers who, on blue, yellow or green,

have lost all hope. Or, if I don’t see the difference,

not to emerge at all. Perish, world!

Milorad Pejić (translated by Esma Hadžiselimović), May 8, 2023





‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,   

   Knocking on the moonlit door;

And his horse in the silence champed the grasses   

   Of the forest’s ferny floor:

And a bird flew up out of the turret,   

   Above the Traveller’s head:

And he smote upon the door again a second time;   

   ‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.

But no one descended to the Traveller;   

   No head from the leaf-fringed sill

Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,   

   Where he stood perplexed and still.

But only a host of phantom listeners   

   That dwelt in the lone house then

Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight   

   To that voice from the world of men:

Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,   

   That goes down to the empty hall,

Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken   

   By the lonely Traveller’s call.

And he felt in his heart their strangeness,   

   Their stillness answering his cry,

While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,   

   ’Neath the starred and leafy sky;

For he suddenly smote on the door, even   

   Louder, and lifted his head:—

‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,   

   That I kept my word,’ he said.

Never the least stir made the listeners,   

   Though every word he spake

Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house   

   From the one man left awake:

Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,   

   And the sound of iron on stone,

And how the silence surged softly backward,   

   When the plunging hoofs were gone.


Walter de la Mare, May 5, 2023






Earth has not any thing to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty:

This City now doth, like a garment, wear

The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep

In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:

Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

And all that mighty heart is lying still!


Villiam Wordsworth, May 1, 2023






Minula noc, mine sen

Objeví se za úsvitu

Dávné sídlo v dávné mlze

Drkotá vůz po kamení

Za křovím se leskne řeka

Strom do vody střásá listí

Luňák letí za kořistí


Ivan Wernisch, April 28, 2023








S:t Stefans dag

sitter jag i människornas kök

dricker öl och lyssnar till språket

som består av deras ärenden, deras minnen

och jag blir hjälplös, sägen något

men det ramlar

ur min mun och ner på golvet som en hästsko


Pentti Saarikoski, April 24, 2023






       “Any news about Elvir?,” Refka asked me as I entered the kiosk.

        I shook my head. I could not bring myself to squeeze out such a brief word as “No!”.

        Refka sells all kinds of small items, anything she can get a hold of that can sell in these times of war. I sat next to her quietly. Didn’t feel like talking. I came here just so I wouldn’t be alone. She didn’t know what to say either, so she too kept silent. Then a passerby showed up and stuck his head through the little window.

       “Wanna buy a cigarette?” he asked Refka.

       “How much?”

       “Two marks.”


        The smuggler walked away. Refka looked at me, thought for a moment, then yelled through the window.

        “Hey! Come back.”

        When the guy returned, she bought two cigarettes for four marks.

        The marks were German. The cigarettes were Croatian.  The kiosk belonged to Refka. Elvir is my younger brother. He is nineteen. He is in a concentration camp.

        We sat silently in the kiosk, smoking.


Adin Ljuca (translated by Esma Hadžiselimović), April 21, 2023








Now it is autumn and the falling fruit

and the long journey towards oblivion.


The apples falling like great drops of dew

to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.


And it is time to go, to bid farewell

to one’s own self, and find an exit

from the fallen self.




Have you built your ship of death, O have you?

O build your ship of death, for you will need it.


The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall

thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.


And death is on the air like a smell of ashes!

Ah! can’t you smell it?


And in the bruised body, the frightened soul

finds itself shrinking, wincing from the cold

that blows upon it through the orifices.




And can a man his own quietus make

with a bare bodkin?


With daggers, bodkins, bullets, man can make

a bruise or break of exit for his life;

but is that a quietus, O tell me, is it quietus?


Surely not so! for how could murder, even self-murder

ever a quietus make?




O let us talk of quiet that we know,

that we can know, the deep and lovely quiet

of a strong heart at peace!


How can we this, our own quietus, make?




Build then the ship of death, for you must take

the longest journey, to oblivion.


And die the death, the long and painful death

that lies between the old self and the new.


Already our bodies are fallen, bruised, badly bruised,

already our souls are oozing through the exit

of the cruel bruise.


Already the dark and endless ocean of the end

is washing in through the breaches of our wounds,

already the flood is upon us.


Oh build your ship of death, your little ark

and furnish it with food, with little cakes, and wine

for the dark flight down oblivion.




Piecemeal the body dies, and the timid soul

has her footing washed away, as the dark flood rises.


We are dying, we are dying, we are all of us dying

and nothing will stay the death-flood rising within us

and soon it will rise on the world, on the outside world.


We are dying, we are dying, piecemeal our bodies are dying

and our strength leaves us,

and our soul cowers naked in the dark rain over the flood,

cowering in the last branches of the tree of our life.




We are dying, we are dying, so all we can do

is now to be willing to die, and to build the ship

of death to carry the soul on the longest journey.


A little ship, with oars and food

and little dishes, and all accoutrements

fitting and ready for the departing soul.


Now launch the small ship, now as the body dies

and life departs, launch out, the fragile soul

in the fragile ship of courage, the ark of faith

with its store of food and little cooking pans

and change of clothes,

upon the flood’s black waste

upon the waters of the end

upon the sea of death, where still we sail

darkly, for we cannot steer, and have no port.


There is no port, there is nowhere to go

only the deepening black darkening still

blacker upon the soundless, ungurgling flood

darkness at one with darkness, up and down

and sideways utterly dark, so there is no direction any more

and the little ship is there; yet she is gone.

She is not seen, for there is nothing to see her by.

She is gone! gone! and yet

somewhere she is there.





And everything is gone, the body is gone

completely under, gone, entirely gone.

The upper darkness is heavy as the lower,

between them the little ship

is gone

she is gone.


It is the end, it is oblivion.




And yet out of eternity a thread

separates itself on the blackness,

a horizontal thread

that fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.


Is it illusion? or does the pallor fume

A little higher?

Ah wait, wait, for there’s the dawn,

the cruel dawn of coming back to life

out of oblivion.


Wait, wait, the little ship

drifting, beneath the deathly ashy grey

of a flood-dawn.


Wait, wait! even so, a flush of yellow

and strangely, O chilled wan soul, a flush of rose.


A flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again.




The flood subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell

emerges strange and lovely.

And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing

on the pink flood,

and the frail soul steps out, into the house again

filling the heart with peace.


Swings the heart renewed with peace

even of oblivion.


Oh build your ship of death, oh build it!

for you will need it.

For the voyage of oblivion awaits you.


David Herbert Lawrence, April 17, 2023




Here by the moorway you returned,

And saw the borough lights ahead

That lit your face – all undiscerned

To be in a week the face of the dead,

And you told of the charm of that haloed view

That never again would beam on you.


And on your left you passed the spot

Where eight days later you were to lie,

And be spoken of as one who was not;

Beholding it with a heedless eye

As alien from you, though under its tree

You soon would halt everlastingly.


I drove not with you... Yet had I sat

At your side that eve I should not have seen

That the countenance I was glancing at

Had a last-time look in the flickering sheen,

Nor have read the writing upon your face,

"I go hence soon to my resting-place;


"You may miss me then. But I shall not know

How many times you visit me there,

Or what your thoughts are, or if you go

There never at all.  And I shall not care.

Should you censure me I shall take no heed

And even your praises no more shall need."


True:  never you'll know. And you will not mind.

But shall I then slight you because of such?

Dear ghost, in the past did you ever find

The thought "What profit", move me much?

Yet abides the fact, indeed, the same, – 

You are past love, praise, indifference, blame.


Thomas Hardy,  April 14, 2023






Start not–nor deem my spirit fled:
In me behold the only skull
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.

I lived, I loved, I quaffed like thee;
I died: let earth my bones resign:
Fill up–thou canst not injure me;
The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape
Than nurse the earthworm's slimy brood,
And circle in the goblet's shape
The drink of gods than reptile's food.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others' let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?

Quaff while thou canst; another race,
When thou and thine like me are sped,
May rescue thee from earth's embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.

Why not--since through life's little day
Our heads such sad effects produce?
Redeemed from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs to be of use.


George Gordon, Lord Byron, April 10, 2023





Ah what avails the sceptred race,

Ah what the form divine!

What every virtue, every grace!

Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes

May weep, but never see,

A night of memories and of sighs

I consecrate to thee.


Walter Savage Landor, April 7, 2023






I went to the Garden of Love,

And saw what I never had seen:

A Chapel was built in the midst,

Where I used to play on the green.


And the gates of this Chapel were shut,

And 'Thou shalt not' writ over the door;

So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,

That so many sweet flowers bore. 


And I saw it was filled with graves,

And tomb-stones where flowers should be:

And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,

And binding with briars, my joys & desires.


William Blake, April 3, 2023




LONDON, 1802


Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:

England hath need of thee: she is a fen

Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,

Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,

Have forfeited their ancient English dower

Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;

Oh! raise us up, return to us again;

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:

Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:

Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,

So didst thou travel on life's common way,

In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart

The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

Villiam Wordsworth, March 31, 2023



The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master Speech:
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.


Wystan Hugh Auden, March 27, 2023






On shallow straw, in shadeless glass,

Huddled by empty bowls, they sleep:

No dark, no dam, no earth, no grass -

Mam, get us one of them to keep.


Living toys are something novel,

But it soon wears off somehow.

Fetch the shoebox, fetch the shovel -

Mam, we're playing funerals now.

Philip Larkin, March 24, 2023






Perhaps I was born kneeling,
born coughing on the long winter,
born expecting the kiss of mercy,
born with a passion for quickness
and yet, as things progressed,
I learned early about the stockade
or taken out, the fume of the enema.
By two or three I learned not to kneel,
not to expect, to plant my fires underground
where none but the dolls, perfect and awful,
could be whispered to or laid down to die.

Now that I have written many words,
and let out so many loves, for so many,
and been altogether what I always was –
a woman of excess, of zeal and greed,
I find the effort useless.
Do I not look in the mirror,
these days,
and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?
Do I not feel the hunger so acutely
that I would rather die than look
into its face?
I kneel once more,
in case mercy should come
in the nick of time.


Anne Sexton, March 20, 2023






         for Peter Viereck

This is the house destroyed by Jack.
  This is the spot where the rumpled buck
stops, and where Hans gets killed.
  This is the wall that Ivan built.

This is the wall that Ivan built.
  Yet trying to quell his sense of guilt,
he built it with modest light-gray concrete,
  and the booby-traps look discreet.

Under this wall that a) bores, b) scares
  barbed wire meshes lie flat like skeins
of your granny’s darnings (her chair still rocks!)
  But the voltage’s too high for socks.

Beyond this wall throbs a local flag
  against whose yellow, red, and black
Compass and Hammer proclaim the true
  masonic dream came through.

The Vopos patiently in their nest
  through binoculars scan the West
and the East; and they like both views
  apparently devoid of Jews.

Those who are seen here, thought of, felt,
  were driven away by the sense of Geld
or by a stronger Marxist urge.
  The wall won’t let them merge.

Come to this wall if you hate your place
  and face a sample of cosmic space
where no life-forms can exist at all
  and objects only fall.

Come to this scornful of peace and war
  petrified version of either/or
meandering through these bleak parts which act
  like a mirror that’s cracked.

Sad is the day here. In the night
  searchlights illuminate the blight
making sure that if someone screams,
  it’s not due to bad dreams.

For dreams here aren’t bad: just wet with blood
  of one of your likes who left his pad
to ramble here; and in his head
  dreams are replaced by lead.

Given that, it’s only Time
  who has guts enough to commit the crime
of passing this place back and forth on foot:
  at pendulums they don’t shoot.

That’s why this site will see many moons
  while couples lie in their beds like spoons,
while the rich are wondering what they wish
  and single girls eat fish.

Come to this wall that beats other walls:
  Roman, Chinese, whose worn-down, false
molars envy steel fangs that flash
  scrubbed of thy neighbor’s flesh.

A bird may twitter a better song.
  But should you consider abortion wrong
(or that the quacks ask too high a fee),
  Come to this wall, and see.

Joseph Brodsky, March 17, 2023




Ett telefonsamtal rann ut i natten och glittrade

på landsbygden och i förstäderna.

Efteråt sov jag oroligt i hotellsängen.

Jag liknade nålen i en kompas

som orienteringslöparen ber

genom skogen med bultande hjärta.

Tomas Tranströmer, March 13, 2023



Here lieth
Gorčin the soldier
In his own land
On an alien

I lived
But I summoned death
Night and day

I never hurt a fly
I went off
To be a soldier

I’ve been
In five and five campaigns
Without shield or armor
So that at last
These throes
Might cease

I perished of a strange pain

Not pierced by a spear
Not shot by an arrow
Not cut down
By a saber

I perished of a pain
That has no cure

I loved
My beloved was seized
In bondage

If you meet Kosara
On the paths
Of the Lord
I beseech you
To speak unto her
Of my

Mak Dizdar (Translated by Omer Hadžiselimović, Anne Pennington, and Stephen P. Meyer), March 10, 2023


IN MEMORIAM M.K.H., 1911-1984 


When all the others were away at Mass  

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.  

They broke the silence, let fall one by one 

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.   

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other's work would bring us to our senses. 


So while the parish priest at her bedside 

Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives – 

Never closer the whole rest of our lives.


Seamus Heaney, March 6, 2023






The King of China's daughter

She never would love me,

Though I hung my cap and bells upon

Her nutmeg tree.


For oranges and lemons

The stars in bright blue air

(I stole them long ago, my dear)

Were dangling there.


The moon, she gave me silver pence ;

The sun did give me gold :

And both together softly blew

And made my porridge cold.

But the King of China's daughter

Pretended not to see,

When I hung my cap and bells upon

Her nutmeg tree.


Dame Edith Sitwell, March 3, 2023






Towards the end he sailed into an extraordinary mildness,

And anchored in his home and reached his wife

And rode within the harbour of her hand,

And went across each morning to an office

As though his occupation were another island.


Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge

His terror had to blow itself quite out

To let him see it; but it was the gale had blown him

Past the Cape Horn of sensible success

Which cries: ‘This rock is Eden. Shipwreck here.’


But deafened him with thunder and confused with lightning:

– The maniac hero hunting like a jewel

The rare ambiguous monster that had maimed his sex,

Hatred for hatred ending in a scream,

The unexplained survivor breaking off the nightmare – 

All that was intricate and false; the truth was simple.


Evil is unspectacular and always human,

And shares our bed and eats at our own table,

And we are introduced to Goodness every day,

Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;

He has a name like Billy and is almost perfect

But wears a stammer like a decoration:

And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;

It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover

And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,

And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.


For now he was awake and knew

No one is ever spared except in dreams;

But there was something else the nightmare had distorted – 

Even the punishment was human and a form of love:

The howling storm had been his father’s presence

And all the time he had been carried on his father’s breast.


Who now had set him gently down and left him.

He stood upon the narrow balcony and listened:

And all the stars above him sang as in his childhood

‘All, all is vanity,’ but it was not the same;

For now the words descended like the calm of mountains – 

– Nathaniel had been shy because his love was selfish – 

But now he cried in exultation and surrender

‘The Godhead is broken like bread. We are the pieces.’

And sat down at his desk and wrote a story.


Wystan Hugh Auden, February 27, 2023






When the chilled dough of his flesh went in an oven
not unlike those he fuelled all his life,

I thought of his cataracts ablaze with Heaven
and radiant with the sight of his dead wife,

light streaming from his mouth to shape her name,
'not Florence and not Flo but always Florrie.'
I thought how his cold tongue burst into flame
but only literally, which makes me sorry,
sorry for his sake there's no Heaven to reach
I get it all from Earth my daily bread
but he hungered for release from mortal speech
that kept him down, the tongue that weighed like lead.

The baker’s man that no one will see rise
and England made to feel like some dull oaf
is smoke, enough to sting one person’s eyes
and ash (not unlike flour) for one small loaf.


Tony Harrison, February 24, 2023






My ardours for emprize nigh lost  
Since Life has bared its bones to me,  
I shrink to seek a modern coast  
Whose riper times have yet to be;  
Where the new regions claim them free  
From that long drip of human tears  
Which peoples old in tragedy  
Have left upon the centuried years.  


For, wonning in these ancient lands,  
Enchased and lettered as a tomb,  
And scored with prints of perished hands,  
And chronicled with dates of doom,  
Though my own Being bear no bloom  
I trace the lives such scenes enshrine,  
Give past exemplars present room,  
And their experience count as mine. 

Thomas Hardy, February 20, 2023






Bards freezing, naked, up to the neck in water,
wholly in dark, time limited, different from
initiations now:
the class in writing, clothed & dry & light,
unlimited time, till Poetry takes some,
nobody reads them though,

no trumpets, no solemn instauration, no change;
no commissions, ladies high in soulful praise
(pal) none,
costumes as usual, turtleneck sweaters, loafers,
in & among the busy Many who brays
art is if anything fun.

I say the subject was given as of old,
prescribed the technical treatment, tests really tests
were set by the masters & graded.
I say the paralyzed fear lest one's not one
is back with us forever, worsts & bests
spring for the public, faded.


John Berryman, February 17, 2023






What is that bundle hanging from the ceiling

Unresting even now with constant slight

Drift in the breeze that breathes through rooms at night?

Can it be something, then, that once had feeling,

A girl, perhaps, whose skill and pride and hope

Strangle against each other in the rope?


I think it is a tangle of despair

As shapeless as a bit of woven nest,

Blackened and matted, quivering without rest

At the mercy of the movements of the air

Where half-lodged, half-fallen from the hedge

It hangs tormented at a season's edge.


What an exact artificer she had been!

Her daintiness and firmness are reduced

To lumpy shadow that the dark has noosed.

Something is changing, though.  Movements begin

Obscurely as the court of night adjourns,

A tiny busyness at the center turns.


So she spins who was monarch of the loom,

Reduced indeed, but she lets out a fine

And delicate yet tough and tensile line

That catches full day in the little room,

Then sways minutely, suddenly out of sight,

And then again the thread invents the light.


Thom Gunn, February 13, 2023






Fear of affectation made her affect

Inadequacy whenever it came to       

Pronouncing words ‘beyond her’. Bertold Brek.

She’d manage something hampered and askew

Every time, as if she might betray 

The hampered and inadequate by too 

Well-adjusted a vocabulary. 

With more challenge than pride, she’d tell me, ‘You   

Know all them things.’ So I governed my tongue 

In front of her, a genuinely well- 

Adjusted adequate betrayal 

Of what I knew better. I’d naw and aye   

And decently relapse into the wrong 

Grammar which kept us allied and at bay.     


Seamus Heaney, February 10, 2023






Where dips the rocky highland

Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,

There lies a leafy island

Where flapping herons wake

The drowsy water-rats;

There we've hid our faery vats,

Full of berries

And of reddest stolen cherries.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than you

can understand.


Where the wave of moonlight glosses

The dim grey sands with light,

Far off by furthest Rosses

We foot it all the night,

Weaving olden dances,

Mingling hands and mingling glances

Till the moon has taken flight;

To and fro we leap

And chase the frothy bubbles,

While the world is full of troubles

And is anxious in its sleep.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than you

can understand.


Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,.

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathe a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

Come away, O human child!

To to waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For to world's more full of weeping than you

can understand.


Away with us he's going,

The solemn-eyed:

He'll hear no more the lowing

Of the calves on the warm hillside

Or the kettle on the hob

Sing peace into his breast,

Or see the brown mice bob

Round and round the oatmeal-chest.

For be comes, the human child,

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

from a world more full of weeping than you.


William Butler Yeats, February 6, 2023






When liberty is headlong girl

And runs her roads and wends her ways

Liberty will shriek and whirl

Her showery torch to see it blaze.

When liberty is wedded wife

And keeps the barn and counts the byre

Liberty amends her life.

She drowns her torch for fear of fire.


Archibald MacLeish, February 3, 2023






The time of the year for the mystics.

October sky and the Cloud of Unknowing.

The routes of eternity beckoning.

Sign and enigma in the humblest of things.


Master cobbler Jakob Boehme

Sat in our kitchen all morning.

He sipped tea and warned of the quiet

To which the wise must school themselves.


The young woman paid no attention.

Hair fallen over her eyes,

Breasts loose and damp in her robe,

Stubbornly scrubbing a difficult stain.


Then the dog’s bark brought us all outdoors.

And that wasn’t just geese honking

But Dame Julian of Norwich herself discoursing

On the marvelous courtesy and homeliness of the Maker.


Charles Simic, January 30, 2023






It looks so dark the end of the world may be near.
I believe it’s going to rain.
The birds in the park are silent.
Nothing is what it seems to be,
Nor are we.

There’s a tree on our street so big
We can all hide in its leaves.
We won’t need any clothes either.
I feel as old as a cockroach, you said.
In my head, I’m a passenger on a ghost ship.

Not even a sigh outdoors now.
If a child was left on our doorstep,
It must be asleep.
Everything is teetering on the edge of everything
With a polite smile.

It’s because there are things in this world
That just can’t be helped, you said.
Right then, I heard the blood orange
Roll off the table with a thud
And lie cracked open on the floor.


Charles Simic, January 27, 2023





The butchery of innocents

Never stops. That is about all

We can ever be sure of, love,

Even more sure than of this roast

You are bringing out from the oven.


It's Sunday. The congregation

Files slowly out of the church

Across the street. A good many

Carry bibles in their hands.

It's the vague desire for truth

And the mighty fear of it

That makes them turn up

Despite the glorious spring weather.


In the hallway, the old mutt

Just now had the honesty

To growl at his own image in the mirror,

Before lumbering off to the kitchen

Where the lamb roast sat

In your outstretched hands

Smelling of garlic and rosemary.


Charles Simic, January 23, 2023





You've been a long time making up your mind,
O Lord, about these madmen
Running the world. Their reach is long
And their claws must have frightened you.

One of them found me with his shadow.
The day turned chill. I dangled
Between terror and valor
In the darkest corner of my son's bedroom.

I sought with my eyes, You in whom I do not believe.
You've been busy making the flowers pretty,
The lambs run after their mother,
Or perhaps you haven't been doing even that?

It was spring. The killers were full of sport
And merriment, and your divines
Were right at their side, to make sure
Our final goodbyes were said properly.


Charles Simic, January 20, 2023





Nobody reads it but the insomniacs.
How strange to find a child,
Slapped by his mother only this morning,
And the mad homeless woman
Who squatted to urinate in the street.

Perhaps they’ve missed something?
That smoke-shrouded city after a bombing raid,
The corpses like cigarette butts
In a dinner plate overflowing with ashes.
But no, everyone is here.

O were you to come, invisible tribunal,
There’d be too many images to thumb through,
Too many stories to listen to,
Like the one about guards playing cards
After they were done beating their prisoner.


Charles Simic, January 16, 2023





The Virgin Mother walked barefoot
Among the land mines.
She carried and old man in her arms
Like a howling babe.

The earth was an old people's home.
Judas was the night nurse,
Emptying bedpans into the river Jordan,
Tying people on a dog chain.

The old man had two stumps for legs.
St. Peter came pushing a cart
Loaded with flying carpets.
They were not flying carpets.

They were piles of blood diapers.
The Magi stood around
Cleaning their nails with bayonets.
The old man gave little Mary Magdalene

A broke piece of a mirror.
She hid in the church outhouse.
When she got thirsty she licked
the steam off the glass.

That leaves Joseph. Poor Joseph,
Standing naked in the snow.
He only had a rat
To load his suitcases on.

The rat wouldn't run into its hold.
Even when the lights came on--
And the lights came on:
The floodlights in the guard towers.


Charles Simic, January 13, 2023






veprostřed zarostlý

vzpřímeným plevelem tak prostopášným

že jsme jej v rozechvění

dvakrát objeli

na své nevyhnutelné cestě

k Velkým pláním


Petr Hruška, January 9, 2023





The Opening and the Close
Of Being, are alike
Or differ, if they do,
As Bloom upon a Stalk.

That from an equal Seed
Unto an equal Bud
Go parallel, perfected
In that they have decayed.


Emily Dickinson, January 6, 2023





1911 is wholly given
to looking balanced albeit uneven.
In Hamburg, stirring his nation's helm
the German Kaiser (for you, Wilhelm
the Second) demands what sounds weird for some:
"A Place for Germany in the Sun".
It you were French, you would say C'est tout.
Yet Hitler is barely twenty-two
and things in the sun aren't so hot besides.
The activity of the sun excites
the Chinese to abolish pigtails and then
proclaim a republic with Sun Yat-Sen
their first President. (Although how three hundred
twenty-five millions can be handled
by a Parliament, frankly, beats
me. That is, how many seats
would they have had in that grand pavilion?
And even if it's just one guy per million
what would a minority of, say, ten percent
add up to? This is like counting sand!
For this democracy has no lexicon!)
Along the same latitude, the Mexican
Civil War is over, and saintly, hesitant
Francisco Madero becomes the President.
Italy finding the Turks too coarse
to deal with, resorts to the air force
for the first time in history, while da Vinci's
Mona Lisa gets stolen from the Louver - which is
why the cops in Paris grab Monsieur Guillaume
Apollinaire who though born in Rome,
writes in French, and has other energies.
Rilke prints his Duinese Elegies
and in London, suffragettes poke their black
umbrellas at Whitehall and cry Alack!

Man of the year is a great Norwegian.
The crucial word in their tongue is "Skol".
They are born wearing turtlenecks in that region.
When they go South, they hit the Pole.

(Roald Amundsen)

"I am Roald Amundsen. I like ice.
The world is my oyster for it's capped twice
with ice: first, Arctical, then Antarctical.
Human life in those parts is a missing article.
O! when the temperature falls subzero
the eyes grow blue, the heart sincere.
There are neither doubts nor a question mark:
it's the tails of your huskies which pull and bark".


Joseph Brodsky, January 2, 2023




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