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.
In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms.
How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics,
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has both read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.
William Butler Yeats, June 24, 2022
CONTINUING TO LIVE
Continuing to live – that is, repeat
A habit formed to get necessaries –
Is nearly always losing, or going without.
This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise –
Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
You might discard them, draw a full house!
But it's chess.
And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
And what's the profit? Only that, in time,
We half-identify the blind impress
All our behavings bear, may trace it home.
But to confess,
On that green evening when our death begins,
Just what it was, is hardly satisfying,
Since it applied only to one man once,
And that one dying.
Philip Larkin, June 20, 2022
En skåra ristad genom dalen: stenarna
och jorden håller minnet av en bäck
etsad i planetens vävnad. Ett spår i skriften
och i myten. Verkliga: de tysta stora kråkorna i träden,
barn som ropar, leker i en dunge. Torra tistlar, skärvor,
glas och plast och brända ben. Här vräktes offren
för massakrer, spillror av förstörda tempel,
askan efter tygerna, askan efter kvinnorna
som vävde tygerna. Kompost av gudar och demoner.
Långt här under vattenfallets gömda röst.
Över dalen här ska tråden spännas: de levande
och döda balansera – de lyckliga får komma in i staden.
Här nere kommer blodet flyta, kroppar samlas,
som så många gånger förr sorteras ut.
På sluttningen brer gravfält ut sig, solen bränner
över sten och smala gångar. Vilka gudar kräver
berg och höjder? Avgrundsdjup som
öppnar sig emellan. Vi vandrar genom
skuggorna. En stilla skymning faller
bland olivträd, getterna på stigen mellan
stammarna och allvarsamma bröder,
svarta yllekåpor, långa skägg. En trädgård
och en häst. Bäcken löper under staden
under asfalt, bilar, ödetomter. Stenarna i barnens händer.
Sopor, katter. Långt där borta korsar muren vattnet
som letar sig mot Döda havet genom öknen
skär genom stup och klippor, samlar avloppen från
bosättningar och byar. Stanken stark av förutsägelser
och missförstånd: offrandet till faderns kärlek –
när omsorgen om vattnets rörelser...
Vid Damaskusporten vattnar lugnt en pojke
plantorna han säljer: rosmarin basilika
och nerium. Varsamt. Först sedan dricker han det sista själv.
Ylva Gislén, June 17, 2022
THE DEER LAY DOWN THEIR BONES
I followed the narrow cliffside trail half way up the mountain
Above the deep river-canyon. There was a little cataract crossed the path, flinging itself
Over tree roots and rocks, shaking the jewelled fern-fronds, bright bubbling water
Pure from the mountain, but a bad smell came up. Wondering at it I clambered down the steep stream
Some forty feet, and found in the midst of bush-oak and laurel,
Hung like a bird’s nest on the precipice brink a small hidden clearing,
Grass and a shallow pool. But all about there were bones lying in the grass, clean bones and stinking bones,
Antlers and bones: I understood that the place was a refuge for wounded deer; there are so many
Hurt ones escape the hunters and limp away to lie hidden; here they have water for the awful thirst
And peace to die in; dense green laurel and grim cliff
Make sanctuary, and a sweet wind blows upward from the deep gorge.—I wish my bones were with theirs.
But that’s a foolish thing to confess, and a little cowardly. We know that life
Is on the whole quite equally good and bad, mostly gray neutral, and can be endured
To the dim end, no matter what magic of grass, water and precipice, and pain of wounds,
Makes death look dear. We have been given life and have used it—not a great gift perhaps—but in honesty
Should use it all. Mine’s empty since my love died—Empty? The flame-haired grandchild with great blue eyes
That look like hers? —What can I do for the child? I gaze at her and wonder what sort of man
In the fall of the world...I am growing old, that is the trouble. My children and little grandchildren
Will find their way, and why should I wait ten years yet, having lived sixty-seven, ten years more or less,
Before I crawl out on a ledge of rock and die snapping, like a wolf
Who has lost its mate?—I am bound by my own thirty-year-old decision: who drinks the wine
Should take the dregs; even in the bitter lees and sediment
New discovery may lie. The deer in that beautiful place lay down their bones: I must wear mine.
Robinson Jeffers, June 13, 2022
WHO’S THAT CRYING BEHIND THE WALL, 2
Sarajevo, from both sides of the wall,
from both sides of the river, 2020
Neighbor, did you hear that last night?
The kid wailing in the apartment next door?
All night long
I never slept a wink
Well, must be those migrants
Devil take them
Why choose our building to come to
Neighbor B. says they’re from Iraq
They’re hardly able to choose
Lucky for them they have somewhere to sleep
That’s surely the crying of a sickly child
Spare me your sentiment
Whatever moved them to travel with a child?
Who sent them out into the wide world
and to us, of all places, in this hole in the wall
Please, spare me!
But, the kid’s just a child
who can hardly be blamed for being born
Maybe they have nothing to eat
And the kid’s sick
Maybe they have no medicine
I doubt the kid’s crying for joy
You, my dear, are such a bleeding heart
Obviously you’re a poet
This is all according to plan
They move into our buildings
Change our genes
Nothing random here
Spare me, like they’ve chosen Bosnia
To settle here—out of all the countries in the world
Were you a refugee during the war?
I was, yes, in Sweden
But I had no cell phone like they have
Thank God I’m white so I fit in
But these here are out to taint our seed
All this is a conspiracy
against European civilization!
It’s just that you don’t understand
You’re such a gullible fool
Like all poets
If you love them so much
Be my guest
Take them home with you!
The Slovenian police found thirteen migrants from Iraq, two of them children
(six and eleven) who had hidden in a freight truck and suffered from dehydration and a shortage of oxygen. Some of them required medical care after they were found on Tuesday during a routine check on the border with Croatia.
The migrants had traveled several hours from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)
through Croatia, packed into compartments with scant oxygen, in a truck with
BiH license plates. The police arrested the truck driver from BosniaHerzegovina and another person who was with him in the vehicle.
Will freedom know how to sing
The way captives have sung of it?*
* Branko Miljković
Ferida Duraković (translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac), June 10, 2022
WHO’S THAT CRYING BEHIND THE WALL
Sarajevo, from both sides of the wall,
from both sides of the river, 1993
Who’s that crying behind the wall?
If they’re ours
Let’s mourn them
If they’re theirs
Let’s dump them
Let them cry
Let them croak
Let them starve
Let them be lonesome
What if it’s an old woman crying behind the wall?
What if it’s a lonely child crying behind the wall?
A little girl, raped?
The helpless have no kin
or army or party
Or words of solace
So what about the helpless?
They’re not ours
And they’re not theirs either
See how they dumped them on us
Let them cry
Let them croak
Let them starve
Let them be lonesome
But what if they aren’t theirs or ours
Whose are they then?
I think they’re ours
They should be ours
We’re helpless they’re helpless
Ours they’re not
They aren’t ours
Who’s to blame anyway
Just look at you—
You should be over there behind the wall just like them!
The war I suffered through from 1992 to 1995 is still going on in my thoughts today. This poem is my way to speak—bypassing ideologies, politics and the newly formed “states”—about how there is no such thing as a just war, that civilians, in every war, have nothing but lines of verse with which to cover themselves if somebody humiliates them, beats them, tortures them, locks them up, wounds or murders them. Civilians. The collateral damage of every war and all conflicts of all armies and all ideologies in this part of the world, especially nationalistic ones.
My grandmother, who died in besieged Sarajevo in 1995, was born in 1911 and over the course of her lifetime she made her way through three wars: the First World War, the Second World War, and this one, one of many in the Balkans. I made it through only this one, one of the many in the Balkans.
If we follow this trajectory and its symbolism, my daughter, born in 1996, will not experience the fate of the women in her family. And she’ll live a healthy, happy, long life… Just preserve her from the hearing of evil.
Ferida Duraković (translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac), June 6, 2022
For Sylvia Plath
O Sylvia, Sylvia,
with a dead box of stones and spoons,
with two children, two meteors
wandering loose in a tiny playroom,
with your mouth into the sheet,
into the roofbeam, into the dumb prayer,
where did you go
after you wrote me
about raising potatoes
and keeping bees?)
what did you stand by,
just how did you lie down into?
how did you crawl into,
crawl down alone
into the death I wanted so badly and for so long,
the death we said we both outgrew,
the one we wore on our skinny breasts,
the one we talked of so often each time
we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston,
the death that talked of analysts and cures,
the death that talked like brides with plots,
the death we drank to,
the motives and the quiet deed?
ride in cabs,
yes death again,
that ride home
with our boy.)
O Sylvia, I remember the sleepy drummer
who beat on our eyes with an old story,
how we wanted to let him come
like a sadist or a New York fairy
to do his job,
a necessity, a window in a wall or a crib,
and since that time he waited
under our heart, our cupboard,
and I see now that we store him up
year after year, old suicides
and I know at the news of your death
a terrible taste for it, like salt,
And now, Sylvia,
with death again,
that ride home with our boy.)
And I say only
with my arms stretched out into that stone place,
what is your death
but an old belonging,
a mole that fell out of one of your poems?
(O friend, while the moon's bad,
and the king's gone,
and the queen's at her wit's end the bar fly ought to sing!)
O tiny mother,
O funny duchess!
O blonde thing!
Anne Sexton, June 3, 2022
It grows anywhere.
This jointed stalk, with branches
Like green floating hair,
Thrives in ditches and
Trackside gravel, and even
In oil-spattered sand.
Careless of that,
Its foot-high grace enhances
Like a proud exile,
It will not boast that elsewhere
It lived in high style;
And who, after all,
Would credit what its vague head
Must in dreams recall--
How it long looked down
On the backs of dinosaurs
Shadowed by its crown?
Richard Wilbur, May 30, 2022
PALUBA V NORMANDII
Došel jsem k mizernému zábradlí,
u kterého jsi už stála.
sevřeli jsme oba v rukou
jak překvapivý studený dar.
Pod námi z lodě vyjížděla auta.
Dlouhé nákladní vozy
po vrch naložené
právě vyrobenými automobily.
Nezastavovaly v přístavu a pokračovaly dál,
směrem k vítězným obloukům
Nad námi havarovalo večerní nebe.
a nespouštěli oči z těch aut vezoucích auta,
z nových, prázdných aut
nehybně svištících dálnicí.
Petr Hruška, May 27, 2022
HISTORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, 1908
1908 is a real bore
though it provides a new high in gore
by means of an earthquake in the Southern part
of Calabria, Italy. Still, the world of art
tries to replace those one hundred fifty
thousand victims with things as nifty
as Monet's depiction of the Ducal Palace
in Venice, or with Isadora's galas,
or with the birth of Ian Fleming: to fill the crater.
In the World Series Chicago's again a winner.
In the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina
are taken by Austria (for what it took
it will pay somewhat later with its Archduke).
And the fountain pen is in vogue worldwide.
The gas of helium's liquefied
in Holland which means the rising of
that flat country a bit above
sea level, which means thoughts vertical.
The king and the crown prince are killed in Portugal,
for horizontality's sake no doubt.
Also, the first Model T is out
in Dearborn to roam our blissful quarters
trailed by the news that General Motors
is incorporated. The English Edward
and Russia's Nicholas make an effort
to know each other aboard a yacht.
The Germans watch it but don't react -
or do, but that cannot be photographed.
And the Republic calls on William Taft.
The man of the year is German scientist
Paul Ehrlich. He digs bacterias
and sires immunology. All the sapiens
owe a lot to his theories.
"The world is essentially a community
and to syphilis, nobody has immunity.
So what I've invented beefs up your arsenal
for living a life that's a bit more personal.
I've made Salvarsan. Oh my Salvarsan!
It may cure your wife, it may cure your son,
it may cure yourself and your mistress fast.
Think of Paul Ehrlich as you pull or thrust!"
Joseph Brodsky, May 23, 2022
A WANDERER'S SONG
A wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels;
I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land,
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.
Oh I'll be going, leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet;
To a windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh I'l be going, going, until I meet the tide.
And first I'll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls,
The clucking, sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls,
The songs at the capstan at the hooker warping out,
And then the heart of me'll know I'm there or thereabout.
Oh I am sick of brick and stone, the heart of me is sick,
For windy green, unquiet sea, the realm of Moby Dick;
And I'll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels,
For a wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels.
John Masefield, May 20, 2022
WHEN YOU ARE OLD
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
William Butler Yeats, May 16, 2022
CALL INTO DEATH
Since I lost you, my darling, the sky has come near,
And I am of it, the small sharp stars are quite near,
The white moon going among them like a white bird
And the sound of her gently rustling in heaven like a
bird I hear.
And I am willing to come to you now, my dear,
As a pigeon lets itself off from a cathedral dome
To be lost in the haze of the sky, I would like to come,
And be lost out of sight with you, and be gone like foam.
For I am tired, my dear, and if I could lift my feet,
My tenacious feet from off the dome of the earth
To fall like a breath within the breathing wind
Where you are lost, what rest, my love, what rest!
David Herbert Lawrence, May 13, 2022
A shilling life will give you all the facts:
How Father beat him, how he ran away,
What were the struggles of his youth, what acts
Made him the greatest figure of his day:
Of how he fought, fished, hunted, worked all night,
Though giddy, climbed new mountains; named a sea –
Some of the last researchers even write
Love made him weep his pints like you and me.
With all his honours on, he sighed for one
Who, say astonished critics, lived at home;
Did little jobs about the house with skill
And nothing else; could whistle; would sit still
Or potter round the garden; answered some
Of his long marvellous letters but kept none.
Wystan Hugh Auden, May 9, 2022
Upon a noon I pilgrimed through
A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
My dead Love's living smile.
And sorrowing I lay me down
Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
The very ground she trod.
I lay, and thought; and in a trance
She came and stood me by--
The same, even to the marvellous ray
That used to light her eye.
"You draw me, and I come to you,
My faithful one," she said,
In voice that had the moving tone
It bore in maidenhead.
She said: "'Tis seven years since I died:
Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride;
My children mothers she.
My brethren, sisters, and my friends
Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
Till I passed down from sight."
I said: "My days are lonely here;
I need thy smile alway:
I'll use this night my ball or blade,
And join thee ere the day."
A tremor stirred her tender lips,
Which parted to dissuade:
"That cannot be, O friend," she cried;
"Think, I am but a Shade!
"A Shade but in its mindful ones
By living, me you keep alive,
By dying you slay me.
"In you resides my single power
Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
Through many a coming year."
--I started through me at her plight,
So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
I craved its bleak unrest.
"I will not die, my One of all!--
To lengthen out thy days
I'll guard me from minutest harms
That may invest my ways!"
She smiled and went. Since then she comes
Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
Or at the seasons' ingresses
Or anniversary times;
But grows my grief. When I surcease,
Through whom alone lives she,
Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,
Never again to be!
Thomas Hardy, May 6, 2022
Somebody is shooting at something in our town -
A dull pom, pom in the Sunday street.
Jealousy can open the blood,
It can make black roses.
Who are the shooting at?
It is you the knives are out for
At Waterloo, Waterloo, Napoleon,
The hump of Elba on your short back,
And the snow, marshaling its brilliant cutlery
Mass after mass, saying Shh!
Shh! These are chess people you play with,
Still figures of ivory.
The mud squirms with throats,
Stepping stones for French bootsoles.
The gilt and pink domes of Russia melt and float off
In the furnace of greed. Clouds, clouds.
So the swarm balls and deserts
Seventy feet up, in a black pine tree.
It must be shot down. Pom! Pom!
So dumb it thinks bullets are thunder.
It thinks they are the voice of God
Condoning the beak, the claw, the grin of the dog
Yellow-haunched, a pack-dog,
Grinning over its bone of ivory
Like the pack, the pack, like everybody.
The bees have got so far. Seventy feet high!
Russia, Poland and Germany!
The mild hills, the same old magenta
Fields shrunk to a penny
Spun into a river, the river crossed.
The bees argue, in their black ball,
A flying hedgehog, all prickles.
The man with gray hands stands under the honeycomb
Of their dream, the hived station
Where trains, faithful to their steel arcs,
Leave and arrive, and there is no end to the country.
Pom! Pom! They fall
Dismembered, to a tod of ivy.
So much for the charioteers, the outriders, the Grand Army!
A red tatter, Napoleon!
The last badge of victory.
The swarm is knocked into a cocked straw hat.
Elba, Elba, bleb on the sea!
The white busts of marshals, admirals, generals
Worming themselves into niches.
How instructive this is!
The dumb, banded bodies
Walking the plank draped with Mother France's upholstery
Into a new mausoleum,
An ivory palace, a crotch pine.
The man with gray hands smiles -
The smile of a man of business, intensely practical.
They are not hands at all
But asbestos receptacles.
Pom! Pom! 'They would have killed me.'
Stings big as drawing pins!
It seems bees have a notion of honor,
A black intractable mind.
Napoleon is pleased, he is pleased with everything.
O Europe! O ton of honey!
Sylvia Plath, May 2, 2022
I had not minded — Walls —
Were Universe — one Rock —
And far I heard his silver Call
The other side the Block —
I'd tunnel — till my Groove
Pushed sudden thro' to his —
Then my face take her Recompense —
The looking in his Eyes —
But 'tis a single Hair —
A filament — a law —
A Cobweb — wove in Adamant —
A Battlement — of Straw —
A limit like the Veil
Unto the Lady's face —
But every Mesh — a Citadel —
And Dragons — in the Crease —
Emily Dickinson, April 29, 2022
ATT THE FISHHOUSES
Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
The air smells so strong of codfish
it makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.
The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
to storerooms in the gables
for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
among the wild jagged rocks,
is of an apparent translucence
like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
growing on their shoreward walls.
The big fish tubs are completely lined
with layers of beautiful herring scales
and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
the blade of which is almost worn away.
Down at the water’s edge, at the place
where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
descending into the water, thin silver
tree trunks are laid horizontally
across the gray stones, down and down
at intervals of four or five feet.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
element bearable to no mortal,
to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
I have seen here evening after evening.
He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
like me a believer in total immersion,
so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
He stood up in the water and regarded me
steadily, moving his head a little.
Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
as if it were against his better judgment.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
the dignified tall firs begin.
Bluish, associating with their shadows,
a million Christmas trees stand
waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended
above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
icily free above the stones,
above the stones and then the world.
If you should dip your hand in,
your wrist would ache immediately,
your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
as if the water were a transmutation of fire
that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.
Elizabeth Bishop, April 25, 2022
FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE ROYAL STATION HOTEL
Light spreads darkly downwards from the high
Clusters of lights over empty chairs
That face each other, coloured differently.
Through open doors, the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass
And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads
An unsold evening paper. Hours pass,
And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds,
Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room.
In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How
Isolated, like a fort, it is -
The headed paper, made for writing home
(If home existed) letters of exile: Now
Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages.
Philip Larkin, April 22, 2022
By Saturday I said you would be better on Sunday.
The insistence was a part of a reconciliation.
Your eyes bulged, the grey
light hung on you, you were hideous.
My involvement is just an old
Cruel, cruel to describe
what there is no reason to describe.
Robert Creeley, April 18, 2022
THE SELF AND THE MULBERRY
I wanted to see the self, so I looked at the mulberry.
It had no trouble accepting its limits,
yet defining and redefining a small area
so that any shape was possible, any movement.
It stayed put, but was part of all the air.
I wanted to learn to be there and not there
like the continually changing, slightly moving
mulberry, wild cherry and particularly the willow.
Like the willow, I tried to weep without tears.
Like the cherry tree, I tried to be sturdy and productive.
Like the mulberry, I tried to keep moving.
I couldn't cry right, couldn't stay or go.
I kept losing parts of myself like a soft maple
I fell ill like the elm. That was the end
of looking in nature to find a natural self.
Let nature think itself not manly enough!
Let nature wonder at the mystery of laughter.
Let nature hypothesize man's indifference to it.
Let nature take a turn at saying what love is!
Mervin Bell, April 15, 2022
DEN HALVFÄRDIGA HMLEN
Modlösheten avbryter sitt lopp.
Ångesten avbryter sitt lopp.
Gamen avbryter sin flykt.
Det ivriga ljuset rinner fram,
även spökena tar sig en klunk.
Och våra målningar kommer i dagen,
våra istidsateljéers röda djur.
Allting börjar se sig omkring.
Vi går i solen hundratals.
Var människa en halvöppen dörr
som leder till ett rum för alla.
Den oändliga marken under oss.
Vattnet lyser mellan träden.
Insjön är ett fönster mot jorden.
Tomas Tranströmer, April 11, 2022
THE TRUTH THE DEAD KNOW
For my mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my father, born February 1900, died June 1959
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.
My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.
And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.
Anne Sexton, April 8, 2022
It is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,
Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why;
Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air,
Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.
And to halt at the chattering brook, in a tall green fern at the brink
Where the harebell grows, and the gorse, and the foxgloves purple and white;
Where the shifty-eyed delicate deer troop down to the brook to drink
When the stars are mellow and large at the coming on of the night.
O, to feel the beat of the rain, and the homely smell of the earth,
Is a tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words;
And the blessed green comely meadows are all a-ripple with mirth
At the noise of the lambs at play and the dear wild cry of the birds.
John Masefield, April 4, 2022
LEDA AND THE SWAN
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead. Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
William Butler Yeats, April 1, 2022
There is a meadow in Sweden
where I lie smitten,
eyes stained with clouds'
white ins and outs.
And about that meadow
roams my widow
plaiting a clover
wreath for her lover.
I took her in marriage
in a granite parish.
The snow lent her whiteness,
a pine was a witness.
She'd swim in the oval
lake whose opal
mirror, framed by bracken,
felt happy, broken.
And at night the stubborn
sun of her auburn
hair shone from my pillow
at post and pillar.
Now in the distance
I hear her descant.
She sings "Blue Swallow,"
but I can't follow.
The evening shadow
robs the meadow
of width and color.
It's getting colder.
As I lie dying
here, I'm eyeing
stars. Here's Venus;
no one between us.
Joseph Brodsky, March 28, 2022
IN THE MOONLIGHT
“O lonely workman, standing there
In a dream, why do you stare and stare
At her grave, as no other grave there were?
“If your great gaunt eyes so importune
Her soul by the shine of this corpse-cold moon,
Maybe you’ll raise her phantom soon!”
“Why, fool, it is what I would rather see
Than all the living folk there be;
But alas, there is no such joy for me!”
“Ah—she was one you loved, no doubt,
Through good and evil, through rain and drought,
And when she passed, all your sun went out?”
“Nay: she was the woman I did not love,
Whom all the others were ranked above,
Whom during her life I thought nothing of.”
Thomas Hardy, March 25, 2022
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise Him.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, March 21, 2022
Atʼ jste se starého Mistra dotázali na cokoliv, odpovídal jedním jediným slovem.
Jeho učení již bylo tak uspořádáno a veškeré jeho myšlenky byly tak sjednoceny, že dokázal vše postihnout jedním jediným slovem.
Ivan Wernisch, March 18, 2022
BY THE LAKE
Across the flat and the pastel snow
Two people go…. 'And do you remember
When last we wandered this shore?'… 'Ah no!
For it is cold-hearted December.'
'Dead, the leaves that like asses's ears hung on the trees
When last we wandered and squandered joy here;
Now Midas your husband will listen for these
Whispers-these tears for joy's bier.'
And as they walk, they seem tall pagodas;
And all the ropes let down from the cloud
Ring the hard cold bell-buds upon the trees-codas
Of overtones, ecstasies, grown for love's shroud.
Dame Edith Sitwell, March 14, 2022
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses –
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rock-heads –
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. – As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
Robinson Jeffers, March 11, 2022
Doom is dark and deeper than any sea-dingle.
Upon what man it fall
In spring, day-wishing flowers appearing,
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock-face,
That he should leave his house,
No cloud-soft hand can hold him, restraint by women;
But ever that man goes
Through place-keepers, through forest trees,
A stranger to strangers over undried sea,
Houses for fishes, suffocating water,
Or lonely on fell as chat,
By pot-holed becks
A bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.
There head falls forward, fatigued at evening,
And dreams of home,
Waving from window, spread of welcome,
Kissing of wife under single sheet;
But waking sees
Bird-flocks nameless to him, through doorway voices
Of new men making another love.
Save him from hostile capture,
From sudden tiger’s leap at corner;
Protect his house,
His anxious house where days are counted
From thunderbolt protect,
From gradual ruin spreading like a stain;
Converting number from vague to certain,
Bring joy, bring day of his returning,
Lucky with day approaching, with leaning dawn.
Wystan Hugh Auden, March 7, 2022
A BETTER RESURRECION
I have no wit, I have no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
A lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is like the falling leaf;
O Jesus, quicken me.
Sylvia Plath, March 4, 2022
Friends and loves we have none, nor wealth nor blessed abode,
But the hope of the City of God at the other end of the road.
Not for us are content, and quiet, and peace of mind,
For we go seeking a city that we shall never find.
There is no solace on earth for us for such as we,
Who search for a hidden city that we shall never see.
Only the road and the dawn, the sun, the wind, and the rain,
And the watch fire under stars, and sleep, and the road again.
We seek the City of God, and the haunt where beauty dwells,
And we find the noisy mart and the sound of burial bells.
Never the golden city, where radiant people meet,
But the dolorous town where mourners are going about the street.
We travel the dusty road till the light of the day is dim,
And sunset shows us spires away on the world's rim.
We travel from dawn to dusk, till the day is past and by,
Seeking the Holy City beyond the rim of the sky.
Friends and loves we have none, nor wealth nor blest abode,
But the hope of the City of God at the other end of the road.
John Masefield, February 28, 2022
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake, February 25, 2022
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife:
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm'd both hands before the fire of Life;
It sinks; and I am ready to depart.
Walter Savage Landor, February 21, 2022
Two Bosnian war veterans and a handful of tourists met with Georg Friedrich Händel one evening at 10 o’clock in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Old Town Square.
How can eardrums accustomed to listening to the silence between a firing blast and an explosion get used to such transitions: Adagio – Allegro – Adagio – Bourrée – Minuet.
Unlike the tourists’, their hearing is more refined, they recognize, by sound only and without fail, the exact kind of weapon used, where it was fired,
and how to let those sound waves pass them by.
From the baroque times to today the musical scale has been immensely enhanced. The treble clef has been replaced by a distress signal. With a monotone, but agitating sound, the concert begins. The children and women leave their apartments, descend to the basement.
The concert is exhausting, for both the musicians and the audience. It lasts six months, one or two years, and even longer for some – till the end of their life.
And as I listen, with Dženan, to the cycle of baroque sonatas, I try, in my mind, to reach that point where two parallel lines meet.
All in vain.
There are things we don’t have to understand.
how to connect the past and the present that meet right here,
within these sixty or so kilograms of flesh and bones,
comingled in four or five liters of blood.
We don’t turn to God, although the place is appropriate for that. Surrendering to the music, we sail comfortably from F major to B minor.
I listen, captivated: harpsichord, oboe, flute, cello. The atmosphere is rising: affettuoso, affettuoso, vivace, vivace – the air thickens like after a detonation. My feet perspire. I am overcome with tremors, chills. It’s cold everywhere: at both the South and North Pole. Although as a child, I imagined this South Pole to be warm.
Adin Ljuca (translated by Esma Hadžiselimović), February 18, 2022
a brown old man with a green thumb:
I can remember the screak on stones of his hoe,
The chug, choke, and high madrigal wheeze
Of the spray-cart bumping below
The sputtery leaves of the apple trees,
But he was all but dumb
Who filled some quarter of the day with sound
All of my childhood long. For all I heard
Of all his labors, I can now recall
Never a single word
Until he went in the dead of fall
To the drowsy underground,
Having planted an orchard with so great care
In that last year that none was lost, and May
Aroused them all, the leaves saying the land's
Praise for the livening clay,
And the found voice of his buried hands
Rose in the sparrowy air
Richard Wilbur, February 14, 2022
The widest prairies have electric fences,
For though old cattle know they must not stray
Young steers are always scenting purer water
Not here but anywhere. Beyond the wires
Leads them to blunder up against the wires
Whose muscle-shredding violence gives no quarter.
Young steers become old cattle from that day,
Electric limits to their widest senses.
Philip Larkin, February 11, 2022
A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.
A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.
Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious, precious.
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.
Anne Sexton, February 7, 2022
A PRAYER FOR MY DAUGHTER
Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's Wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour,
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come
Dancing to a frenzied drum
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty, and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass; for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness, and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen, being chosen, found life flat and dull,
And later had much trouble from a fool;
While that great Queen that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless, could have her way,
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.
In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift, but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful.
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise;
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree,
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound;
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
Oh, may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is heaven's will,
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.
William Butler Yeats, February 4, 2022
We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable —
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.
We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.
We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, January 31, 2022
THE DEATH OF THE BALL TURRET GUNNER
From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
Randahl Jarrell, January 28, 2022
Man, looking into the sea —
taking the view frEdna St. Vincent Millaye as much right to it as you have it to yourself —
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing
but you cannot stand in the middle of this:
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession — each with an emerald turkey-foot at the top— reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look —
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them
for their bones have not lasted;
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave,
and row quickly away — the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress upon themselves in a phalanx — beautiful under networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed;
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore—
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them
and the ocean, under the pulsation of light-houses and noise of bell-buoys,
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound to sink —
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor consciousness.
Marianne Moore, January 24, 2022
Cliff Klingenhagen had me in to dine
With him one day; and after soup and meat,
And all the other things there were to eat,
Cliff took two glasses and filled one with wine
And one with wormwood. Then, without a sign
For me to choose at all, he took the draught
Of bitterness himself, and lightly quaffed
It off, and said the other one was mine.
And when I asked him what the deuce he meant
By doing that, he only looked at me
And smiled, and said it was a way of his.
And though I know the fellow, I have spent
Long time a-wondering when I shall be
As happy as Cliff Klingenhagen is.
Edwin Arlington Robinson, January 21, 2022
THE BLUE BOOBY
The blue booby lives
on the bare rocks
and fears nothing.
It is a simple life:
they live on fish,
and there are few predators.
Also, the males do not
make fools of themselves
chasing after the young
they gather the blue
objects of the world
and construct from them
a nest — an occasional
a string of beads,
a piece of cloth from
a sailor’s suit. This
replaces the need for
in fact, in the past
fifty million years
the male has grown
nor can he sing well.
The female, though,
asks little of him —
the blue satisfies her
a magical effect
on her. When she returns
from her day of
gossip and shopping,
she sees he has found her
a new shred of blue foil:
for this she rewards him
with her dark body,
the stars turn slowly
in the blue foil beside them
like the eyes of a mild savior.
James Tate, January 17, 2022
Inne i den väldiga romanska kyrkan
trängdes turisterna i halvmörkret.
Valv gapande bakom valv och ingen överblick.
Några ljuslågor fladdrade.
En ängel utan ansikte omfamnade mig
och viskade genom hela kroppen:
”Skäms inte för att du är människa, var stolt!
Inne i dig öppnar sig valv bakom valv oändligt.
Du blir aldrig färdig, och det är som det skall.”
Jag var blind av tårar
och föstes ut på den solsjudande piazzan
tillsammans med Mr och Mrs Jones,
Herr Tanaka och Signora Sabatini
och inne i dem alla öppnade sig
valv bakom valv oändligt.
Tomas Tranströmer, January 14, 2022
Strhni dům, postav loď.
(sumerská hliněná tabulka)
Všechno se to odehrává na lodi.
Těžká mužská hlava
na cizím ženském rameni.
opřený o okap.
Komíhající se hák.
Sedm nebohých věřících,
zpívajících v závětří,
s košilemi zastrčenými do kalhot.
Přísahání a sliby,
pod ohnutým plechem se zákazem.
Tvůj červený kabát tam,
kde se můj život zdál
Všechno se děje na lodi.
Petr Hruška, January 10, 2022
I was the slightest in the House —
I took the smallest Room —
At night, my little Lamp, and Book —
And one Geranium —
So stationed I could catch the Mint
That never ceased to fall —
And just my Basket —
Let me think — I'm sure —
That this was all —
I never spoke — unless addressed —
And then, 'twas brief and low —
I could not bear to live — aloud —
The Racket shamed me so —
And if it had not been so far —
And any one I knew
Were going — I had often thought
How noteless — I could die —
Emily Dickinson, January 7, 2022
MUSÉE DE BEAUX ARTS
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Wystan Hugh Auden, January 3, 2022