Omer_slon.jpg

Оmer

 

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.

POLITICS              

 

In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms.
                                                                                      Thomas Mann 

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. 
It varies. 
 
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 
To exist. 
 
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

 

 

 

KIDRON

 

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

And besides

If you love them so much

Be my guest

Take them home with you!

Postscript:

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.

 

BUT:

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

But

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?

Forget them

Fuck them

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

They’re ours

Ours they’re not

Forget them

Fuck them

They aren’t ours

They’re no-one’s

Who’s to blame anyway

Just look at you—

They’re yours

You should be over there behind the wall just like them!

Postscript:

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

 

 

 

SYLVIA´S DEATH

 

                  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, 

(Sylvia, Sylvia 

where did you go 

after you wrote me 

from Devonshire 

about raising potatoes 

and keeping bees?) 

what did you stand by, 

just how did you lie down into? 

 

Thief - 

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? 

(In Boston 

the dying 

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 me, 

me too. 

And now, Sylvia, 

you again 

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, 

you too! 

O funny duchess! 

O blonde thing!

 

Anne Sexton, June 3, 2022 

 

 

 

HORSETAIL

 

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

Any habitat.

 

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.

Kov příčky

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

dálničních nájezdů.

 

Nad námi havarovalo večerní nebe.

Stáli jsme

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.

(Paul Ehrlich)

"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

       among snow-berries,

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

 

 

 

WHO'S WHO

 

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

 

 

 

HER IMMORTALITY

 

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
Has immortality;
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

 

 

 

THE SWARM

 

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

 

 

 

398

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

 

 

 

THE OPERATION

 

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

habitual relationship.

 

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

 

 

 

TEWKESBURY ROAD

 

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

 

 

 

TORNFALLET  

 

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

 

 

 

PIED BEAUTY

 

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

 

 

 

HOVNO

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

 

CARMEL POINT  
 

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

 

 

 

THE WANDERER

 

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

 

 

 

THE SEEKERS

 

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

 

 

 

THE TYGER

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

 

 

 

FINISH

 

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

 

 

 

BAROQUE SONATA

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.

E.g.:

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

 

 

 

HE WAS 
 
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

 

 

 

WIRES

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

 

 

BLACK ART

 

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,

Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,   

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
 

RECUERDO

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 

 

 

 

A GRAVEYARD

 

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

 

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

of Galapagos

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   

ladies. Rather,

they gather the blue

objects of the world

and construct from them

a nest — an occasional   

Gaulois package,

a string of beads,

a piece of cloth from   

a sailor’s suit. This   

replaces the need for   

dazzling plumage;   

in fact, in the past   

fifty million years

the male has grown

considerably duller,   

nor can he sing well.   

The female, though,

asks little of him —

the blue satisfies her   

completely, has   

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 

 

 

 

ROMANSKA BÅGAR

 

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

 

ČERVENÝ KABÁT

 

          Strhni dům, postav loď.

                         (sumerská hliněná tabulka)

 

Všechno se to odehrává na lodi.

Těžká mužská hlava

na cizím ženském rameni.

Pijící chlap

opřený o okap.

Řeči

o bezpečí.

Komíhající se hák.

Sedm nebohých věřících,

zpívajících v závětří,

s košilemi zastrčenými do kalhot.

Přísahání a sliby,

pod ohnutým plechem se zákazem.

Nový strach.

Tvůj červený kabát tam,

kde se můj život zdál

tak soběstačný.

Všechno se děje na lodi.

 

Petr Hruška, January 10, 2022

 

 

486

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