Friday, May 18, 2012

the narrow sea - robert graves

The Narrow Sea
by Robert Graves

With you for mast and sail and flag,
And anchor never known to drag,
Death's narrow but oppressive sea
Looks not unnavigable to me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

to a steam roller - marianne moore

To A Steam Roller
by Marianne Moore

The illustration
is nothing to you without the application.
   You lack half wit.  You crush all the particulars down
      into close conformity and then walk back and
         forth on them.

Sparkling chips of rock
are crushed down to the level of the parent block.
   Were not "impersonal judgement in aesthetic
      matters, a metaphysical impossibility", you
might fairly achieve
it.  As for butterflies, i can hardly conceive
   of one's attending upon you, but to question
      the congruence of the compliment is vain, if it

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

foutain at tsarskoye selo - alexander pushkin

Fountain At Tsarskoye Selo
by Alexander Pushkin (tr. D.M. Thomas)

The girl has dropped the urn, and broken it on a rock.
Sadly the girl sits, and holds the empty shard.
But miraculously the water does not dry up;
The girl sits timelessly sad over the timeless stream.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'i have outlived...' - peter vyazemsky

'I have outlived...' 
by Peter Vyazemsky (tr. A. Myers)

I have outlived most things and people round me
and weighed the worth of most things in this life;
these days I drag along though bars surround me,
exist within set limits without strife.
Horizons now for me are close and dreary
and day by day draw nearer and more dark.
Reflection's dipping flight is slow and weary,
my soul's small world is desolate and stark.
My mind no longer casts ahead with boldness,
the voice of hope is dumb -- and on the route,
now trampled flat by living's mundane coldness,
I am denied the chance to set my foot.
And if my life has seemed among the hardest
and though my storeroom's stock of grain is small,
what sense is there in hoping still for harvest
when snow from winter clouds begins to fall?
In furrows cropped by scythe or sickle clearance
there may be found, it's true, some living trace;
in me there may be found some past experience,
but nothing of tomorrow's time or space.
Life's balanced the accounts, she is unable
to render back what has been prised away
and what the earth, in sounding vaults of marble,
has closed off, pitiless, from light of day.

garden - marina tsvetayeva

by Marina Tsvetayeva (tr. D. McDuff)

Cure for this hell,
This fever, send
Me a garden
Toward my life's end,

Toward my life's end,
For my life's cares,
My years of work,
My hunchbacked years...

Toward my life's end,
Dog-like -- a bone,
Of burning years --
Cool garden stone.

For an outcast, send
A garden down,
With no one in,
No one around.

Garden: not a step!
Garden: not an eye!
Garden: not a peep!
Garden: not a cry!

Send me a garden down,
Deaf to every call,
With no sweetheart,
No hearts at all.

Tell me: of torment, that's enough --
A garden -- lonely as myself.
(But don't Yourself then stand nearby!)
A garden, solitary as I.

That's the garden I want, when I grow old...
That garden?  Maybe -- that future world?
For my old age send it to me,
To take my soul and set it free.

Monday, May 14, 2012

'freshness of words...' - anna akhmatova

'Freshness of words...' 
by Anna Akhmatova (tr. D.M. Thomas)

Freshness of words, simplicity of emotions,
If we lost these, would it not be as though
Blindness had stricken Fra Angelico,
Or an actor lost his power of voice and motion?

But don't behave as if you own
What has been given you by the Saviour:
We ourselves know, we are condemned to squander
Our wealth, and not save. Alone

Go out and heal the cataract,
And later, witness your own disciples'
Malice and jeers, and see the people's
Stolid indifference to the act.

ill luck - charles baudelaire

Ill Luck
by Charles Baudelaire (tr. Wallace Fowlie)

To raise a weight so heavy,
Sisyphus, we would need your courage!
Although we have a strong heart for the work,
Art is long and Time is short.

Far from famous graves,
Toward a lonely cemetery,
My heart, like a muffled drum,
Comes beating a funeral march.

--Many a gem lies buried
In darkness and oblivion,
Far from pickaxes and drills;

Many a flower pours forth regretfully
Its perfume sweet as a secret
In solitary shades.

Le Guignon

Pour soulever un poids si lourd,
Sisyphe, il faudrait ton courage!
Bien qu'on ait du coeur à l'ouvrage,
L'Art est long et le Temps est court.

Loin des sépultures célèbres,
Vers un cimetière isolé,
Mon coeur, comme un tambour voilé,
Va battant des marches funèbres.

— Maint joyau dort enseveli
Dans les ténèbres et l'oubli,
Bien loin des pioches et des sondes;

Mainte fleur épanche à regret
Son parfum doux comme un secret
Dans les solitudes profondes.

facet - dean young

by Dean Young

For weeks, I've gone unbroken
but not unpunished by the quiet
of zero degrees which is worse than
the quiet of twenty when at least
you can't hear the stars wheeze.
I can't make it any clearer than that
and stay drunk. A crash course
in the afterlife where I still walk
beside you but unable to touch your hair.
It worries me I could no longer care
or only in a detached way like a monk
for a scorpion.

the last leaf - oliver wendell holmes

The Last Leaf
by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
     And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
     With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
     Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
     Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
     Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
     "They are gone."

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has pressed
     In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
     On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said--
Poor old lady, she is dead
     Long ago--
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
     In the snow.

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
     Like a staff,
And a crook in his back,
And a melancholy crack
     In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
     At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
     Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
     In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
     Where I cling.