Monday, December 31, 2012

the art of poetry - jorge luis borges

The Art of Poetry
by Jorge Luis Borges

To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness—such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there’s a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

among many tasks - tadeusz rozewicz

Among Many Tasks
by Tadeusz Rozewicz  (tr. Magnus J. Krynski & Robert A. Maguire)

Among many tasks
very urgent
I've forgotten that
it's also necessary
to be dying

I have neglected this obligation
or have been fulfilling it

beginning tomorrow
everything will change
I will start dying assiduously
wisely optimistically
without wasting time

missing you - shu ting

Missing You
by Shu Ting (tr. Carolyn Kizer)

A multi-colored chart without a boundary;
An equation chalked on the board, with no solution;
A one-stringed lyre that tells the beads of rain;
A pair of useless oars that never cross the water.

Waiting buds in suspended animation;
The setting sun is watching from a distance.
Though in my mind there may be an enormous ocean,
What emerges is the sum: a pair of tears.

Yes, from these vistas, from these depths,
Only this.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

travel with grief--goodbye to joy - huynh sanh thong

Travel with Grief--Goodbye to Joy
by Nguyen Chi Thien (tr. Huynh Sanh Thong)

Travel with grief--goodbye to joy!
For baggage you have sweat and dust.
Some pocket money: poems and sweet dreams.
A dark, foul car--enjoy the smell.
Above the train a red flash grows:
somewhere, a storm is running wild?

a dress of fire - dahlia ravikovitch

A Dress Of Fire
by Dahlia Ravikovitch (tr. Chana Bloch & Ariel Bloch)

You know, she said, they made you
a dress of fire.
Remember how Jason's wife burned in her dress?
It was Medea, she said, Medea did that to her.
You've got to be careful, she said,
they made you a dress that glows
like an ember, that burns like coals.

Are you going to wear it, she said, don't wear it.
It's not the wind whistling, it's the poison
seeping in.
You're not even a princess, what can you do to Medea?
Can't you tell one sound from another, she said,
it's not the wind whistling.

Remember, I told her, that time when I was six?
They shampooed my hair and I went out into the street.
The smell o shampoo trailed after me like a cloud.
Then I got sick from the wind and the rain.
I didn't know a thing about reading Greek tragedies,
but the smell of the perfume spread
and I was very sick.
Now I can see it's an unnatural perfume.

What will happen to you now, she said,
they made you a burning dress.
They made me a burning dress, I said. I know.
So why are you standing there, she said,
you've got to be careful.
You know what a burning dress is, don't you?

I know, I said, but I don't know
how to be careful.
The smell of that perfume confuses me.
I said to her, No one has to agree with me,
I don't believe in Greek tragedies.

But the dress, she said, the dress is on fire.
What are you saying, I shouted,
what are you saying?
I'm not wearing a dress at all,
what's burning is me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

belfast tune - joseph brodsky

Belfast Tune
by Joseph Brodsky

Here's a girl from a dangerous town.
     She crops her dark hair short
so that less of her has to frown
     when someone gets hurt.

She folds her memories like a parachute.
     Dropped, she collects the peat
and cooks her veggies at home: they shoot
     here where they eat.

Ah, there's more sky in these parts than, say,
     ground. Hence her voice's pitch,
and her stare stains your retina like a gray
     bulb when you switch

hemispheres, and her knee-length quilt
     skirt's cut to catch the squall.
I dream of her either loved or killed
     because the town's too small.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the new york intellectual - robert lowell

The New York Intellectual
by Robert Lowell

How often was their last salute recast?
Did the old critic need three hundred words,
such tact and tough, ascetic resonance,
the preposition for, five times in parallel,
to find himself "a beleaguered minority,
without fantasies of martyrdom,"
facing the graves of the New York Intellectuals,
"without joy, but neither with dismay"?
This art was needed for his quiet message,
his firm and unpermissive final sentence.
How often one would choose the poorman's provincial
out of town West Side intellectual
for the great brazen rhetorician serpent,
swimming the current with his iron smile!