Saturday, 21 July 2018

Hill-Dwelling Cuckoo by Mibu no Tadamine

Hill-dwelling cuckoo
pouring forth his ceaseless song:
perhaps he thinks them
too short — summer nights ending
the moment they have begun.

From: McCullough, Helen Craig (ed. and transl.), Kokin Wakashū: The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry, 1985, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 44.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=h8PjRkVxrrgC)

Date: c895 (original in Japanese); 1985 (translation in English)

By: Mibu no Tadamine (fl. 898-920)

Translated by: Helen Craig McCullough (1918-1998)

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Friday, 20 July 2018

The Wife’s Thoughts by Xu Gan

Clouds that drift so far and free
I’d ask to bear my message,
but their whirling shapes accept no charge;
wandering, halting, I long in vain.
Those who part all meet once more;
you alone send no word of return.
Since you went away,
my shining mirror darkens with neglect.
Thoughts of you are like the flowing river—
when will they ever end?

From: Minford, John and Lau, Joseph S. M. (eds.), Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations. Volume I: From Antiquity to the Tang Dynasty, 2002, Columbia University Press: New York and The Chinese University Press: Hong Kong, pp. 421-422.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=GV8BltnoGGMC)

Date: c200 (original); 1984 (translation)

By: Xu Gan (171-217)

Translated by: Burton Dewitt Watson (1925-2017)

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Soothsayers by Quintus Ennius

For no Marsian augur (whom fools view with awe),
Nor diviner nor star-gazer, care I a straw;
The Egyptian quack, an expounder of dreams,
Is neither in science nor art what he seems;
Superstitious and shameless, they prowl through our streets,
Some hungry, some crazy, but all of them cheats.
Impostors who vaunt that to others they’ll show
A path, which themselves neither travel nor know.
Since they promise us wealth, if we pay for their pains,
Let them take from that wealth, and bestow what remains.

From: Dunlop, John, History of Roman Literature, From Its Earliest Period to the Augustan Age. In two volumes. Second Edition, Volume I, 1824, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green: London, p. 96.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=NtFaAAAAcAAJ)

Date: 2nd century BCE (original in Latin); 1828 (translation in English)

By: Quintus Ennius (c239 BCE-c169 BCE)

Translated by: John Colin Dunlop (1785-1842)

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Mirror of the Mind—according to Modern Philosophy by Francis Hodgson

Our reason, Merivale, is but the hue
That outward objects offer to our view,
Which faithfully our minds reflect within—
And only by perverting these, we sin.
lt follows, as with diff’rent eyes we see,
Reason is different in you and me.
By this true glass our conduct should we dress—
We err, as we regard it, more or less.

From: Hodgson, Francis, Lady Jane Grey, a Tale, in Two Books; with Miscellaneous Poems, in English and Latin, 1809, T. Bensley for J. MacKinlay: London, pp. 217-218.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=nzJDAQAAMAAJ)

Date: 1809

By: Francis Hodgson (1781-1852)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Military Elegy: Courage by Tyrtæus

Ne’er would I praise that man, nor deign to sing,
First in the race, or strongest at the ring,
Not though he boast a ponderous Cyclop’s force,
Or rival Boreas in his rapid course;
Not tho’ Aurora might his name adore,
Tho’ eastern riches swell his countless store,
Tho’ power and splendour to his name belong,
And soft persuasion dwell upon his tongue,
Tho’ all but god-like valour, were his own:

My muse is sacred to the brave alone;
Who can look carnage in the face, and go
Against the foremost warriors of the foe.

By heaven high courage to mankind was lent,
Best attribute of youth, best ornament.
The man whom blood and danger fail to daunt,
Fearless who fights, and ever in the front,
Who bids his comrades barter useless breath
For a proud triumph, or a prouder death,
He is my theme — He only, who can brave
With single force the battle’s rolling wave,
Can turn his enemies to Might, and fall
Beloved, lamented, deified by all.
His household gods, his own parental land
High in renown, by him exalted stand;
Alike the heirs and founders of his name
Share his deserts and borrow from his fame
He, pierced in front with many a gaping wound,
Lies, great and glorious, on the bloody ground,
From every eye he draws one general tear,
And a whole nation follows to his bier;
Illustrious youths sigh o’er his early doom,
And late posterity reveres his tomb.
Ne’er shall his memorable virtue die,
Tho’ cold in earth, immortal as the sky;
He for his country fought, for her expired:
Oh would all imitate whom all admired!
But if he sleep not with the mighty dead,
And living laurels wreathe his honour’d head,
By old, by young, adored, he gently goes
Down a smooth pathway to his long repose,
Unaltering friends still love his hairs of snow,
And rising elders in his presence bow.
Would ye, like him, the wond’ring world engage,
Draw the keen blade, and let the battle rage!

From: Peter, William (ed.), Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome by Various Translators, 1848, Carey and Hart: Philadelphia, p. 27.
(https://archive.org/details/spe00cimensofpoetspeterich

Date: 7th century BCE (original in Greek); 1848 (translation in English)

By: Tyrtæus (7th century BCE)

Translated by: Francis Hodgson (1781-1852)

Monday, 16 July 2018

Loneliness by Meg Kearney

The girl hunting with her father approaches
the strange man who has stopped at the end
of his day to rest and look at the lake.
Do you like geese? she asks. The man smiles.
The girl draws a webbed foot from her pocket
and places it in his hand. It’s late fall
and still the geese keep coming, two fingers
spread against a caution-yellow sky. Before
he can thank her, the girl has run off, down
to the edge of the water. The man studies her
father, about to bring down his third goose
today—then ponders the foot: soft, pink,
and covered with dirt like the little girl’s hand.
He slips it into his coat pocket, and holds it there.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/89190/loneliness-571936eaa402e

Date: 2016

By: Meg Kearney (1964- )

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Dust by Robert Wrigley

From that hard-rutted, high-line road, the dust
billowed up like spindrift behind us,
a cloud the color of my skin, slowly ghosting away.
I loved the dry poultice a single summer day
could be in the mountains, even these mountains,
heavily timbered and ripped again and again
for their logs. I loved the dust as fine
as flour, settled in wind rows and sometimes—
in a low, exposed spot on a south-facing slope—
drifted over the road like a waterless pool, a swamp
of bones and dead men’s breath, untracked
and hot as fresh ash. And it is a fact
that we usually exploded into such places
like children, laughing, while the dust chased
us along the road. But there was one
dry wash we stopped for: lake-sized, the pure dun
from moth wings troweled smooth as glass.
It was a miracle we waded into past
our knees, a hot bath of earth you swore
we could swim through, so we did, and it poured
into us like sun, like music, and we rose
on that other shore changed, our clothes,
our hair, our hands, our lips altogether earth.
That day, we learned again the easy worth
of motion, the truck a dead sea away,
idling, shimmery with heat, and in every way
the antithesis of mountains, their imperceptible dance,
their purity of waiting, those certainties we see as chance.

From: http://www.poetrynw.org/robert-wrigley-two-poems/

Date: 1989

By: Robert Wrigley (1951- )

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Paris by Night by Tristan Corbière

It’s not a city, it’s a world

—  It’s the sea: — dead calm — The Spring tide has felt bound,
With a distant rumbling, to withdraw its sway.
Its waves will return, rolling themselves in their sound —
—  Can you hear the crabs of night scratching away…

—  It’s the dried-up Styx: Rag ’n bone Diogenes,
Lantern in hand, wanders down it; he never squirms
But it’s the black gutter where depraved poets please
To cast their lines, their hollow skulls the cans for worms.

—  It’s the wheat-field: Hideous harpies swirl and swoop
On what’s impure, gleaning shreds of lint caked in pus.
The alley cat, on the watch for rats, flees the troop
Of Shit-creek’s sons, harvesters of night’s detritus.

—  It’s death: Here lieth the police — And love, upstairs,
Taking a siesta, sucks a heavy arm’s meat
Where an old love-bite’s left its blotch — Love is for pairs —
The hour is solitary — Listen: … dreams drag their feet…

—  It’s life: Listen: the spring water is up for air,
Singing its everlasting song, that seems to slide
Over a sea-god’s slimy head, and his stretched bare
Green limbs on the bed of the Morgue… Eyes open wide!

From: https://universitypress.whiterose.ac.uk/site/alt-publishing/

Date: 1873 (original in French); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Tristan Corbière (1845-1875)

Translated by: Christopher Pilling (1936- )

Friday, 13 July 2018

For the Book of Love by Jules Laforgue

I may be dead tomorrow, uncaressed.
My lips have never touched a woman’s, none
Has given me in a look her soul, not one
Has ever held me swooning at her breast.

I have but suffered, for all nature, trees
Whipped by the winds, wan flowers, the ashen sky,
Suffered with all my nerves, minutely, I
Have suffered for my soul’s impurities.

And I have spat on love, and, mad with pride,
Slaughtered my flesh, and life’s revenge I brave,
And, while the whole world else was Instinct’s slave,
With bitter laughter Instinct I defied.

In drawing-rooms, the theatre, the church,
Before cold men, the greatest, most refined,
And women with eyes jealous, proud, or kind,
Whose tender souls no lust would seem to smirch.

I thought: This is the end for which they work.
Beasts coupling with the groaning beasts they capture.
And all this dirt for just three minutes’ rapture!
Men, be correct! And women, purr and smirk!

From: http://www.blackcatpoems.com/l/for_the_book_of_love.html

Date: 1885 (original in French); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)

Translated by: Jethro Bithell (1878-1962)

Thursday, 12 July 2018

My Young Mother by Michael Ryan

Elvera Ryan (1911-2006)

What she couldn’t give me
she gave me those long nights
she sat up with me feverish
and sweating in my sleep
when I had no idea whatsoever
what she had to do to suffer
the pain her body dealt her
to assuage the pain in mine.

That was a noble privacy—
her mothering as a practice of patience—
how deeply it must have stretched her
to watch me all night with her nerves
crying for rest while my fever
spiked under the washcloths
she passed between my forehead
and her dishpan filled with ice.

That was a noble privacy,
but even then there was so much
unsayable between us,
and why this was now looks so
ludicrous in its old costume of shame
that I wish not that she had just
said it but that I hadn’t been
so furious she couldn’t.

From: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/poem/2008/01/my_young_mother.html

Date: 2008

By: Michael Ryan (1946- )