Archive for February, 2014

Friday, 28 February 2014

Gacela of the Dark Death by Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca

I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries.
I want to sleep the sleep of that child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.

I don’t want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood,
how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water.
I’d rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for
nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn
with its snakelike nose.

I want to sleep for half a second,
a second, a minute, a century,
but I want everyone to know that I am still alive,
that I have a golden manger inside my lips,
that I am the little friend of the west wind,
that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears.

When it’s dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me
because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me,
and pour a little hard water over my shoes
so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off.

Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples,
and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me,
because I want to live with that shadowy child
who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.


Date: 1973 (translated)

By: Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (1898-1936)

Translated by: Robert Bly (1926- )

Thursday, 27 February 2014

On his Mistris, the Queen of Bohemia by Henry Wotton

You meaner Beauties of the Night,
That poorly satisfie our Eies
More by your number, then your light,
You Common-people of the Skies;
What are you when the Sun shall rise?

You Curious Chanters of the Wood,
That warble forth Dame Natures layes,
Thinking your Voyces understood
By your weake accents; what’s your praise
When Philomell her voyce shal raise?

You Violets, that first apeare,
By your pure purpel mantels knowne,
Like the proud Virgins of the yeare,
As if the Spring were all your own;
What are you when the Rose is blowne?

So, when my Mistris shal be seene
In Form and Beauty of her mind,
By Vertue first, then Choyce a Queen,
Tell me, if she were not design’d
Th’ Eclypse and Glory of her kind?


Date: 1624

By: Henry Wotton (1568-1639)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Damætas’ Madrigal in Praise of his Daphnis by John Wotton

Tune on my pipe the praises of my love,
Love fair and bright;
Fill earth with sound, and airy heavens above,
Heavens Jove’s delight,
With Daphnis’ praise.

To pleasant Tempe groves and plains about,
Plains shepherds’ pride,
Resounding echoes of her praise ring out,
Ring far and wide
My Daphnis’ praise.

When I begin to sing, begin to sound,
Sounds loud and shrill
Do make each note unto the skies rebound,
Skies calm and still.
With Daphnis’ praise.

Her tresses are like wires of beaten gold,
Gold bright and sheen;
Like Nisus’ golden hair that Scylla poll’d,
Scyll o’erseen
Through Minos’ love.

Her eyes like shining lamps in midst of night,
Night dark and dead,
Or as the stars that give the seamen light,
Light for to lead
Their wand’ring ships.

Amidst her cheeks the rose and lily strive,
Lily snow-white,
When their contend doth make their colour thrive.
Colour too bright
For shepherds’ eyes.

Her lips like scarlet of the finest dye,
Scarlet blood-red;
Teeth white as snow which on the hills doth lie.
Hills overspread
By Winter’s force.

Her skin as soft as is the finest silk,
Silk soft and fine,
Of colour like unto the whitest milk.
Milk of the kine
Of Daphnis’ herd.

As swift of foot as is the pretty roe,
Roe swift of pace.
When yelping hounds pursue her to and fro,
Hounds fierce in chase.
To reave her life.

Cease, tongues, to tell of any more compares.
Compares too rude,
Daphnis’ deserts and beauty are too rare:
Then here conclude
Fair Daphnis’ praise.

From: Bullen, A H, England’s Helicon. A Collection of Lyrical and Pastoral Poems: Published in 1600, 1899, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd: London, pp. 82-84.

Date: 1600

By: John Wotton (1550-1597)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Echo and Narcissus by Kim Addonizio

Poor love-struck Echo, stuck with repeating
everything he said. He might
have thought he deserved it,
to have a nymph for a girlfriend, who’d confirm

everything he said; he might
have loved how she mirrored him,
a girlfriend who’d say You’re pretty
when he told her she was pretty,

who’d love him more than her mirror.
Not that they had mirrors in those days;
that was the problem. Anyway, she was pretty,
but he wasn’t interested in nymphs.

If only they’d had mirrors in those days
he wouldn’t have drowned in that reflecting pool,
finding it more interesting than nymphs.
But maybe he’d have beat his head against a mirror

and killed himself anyway, pool or no pool.
No free will in those days—it was all the gods.
You could beat your head against your fate, but still,
if you were Narcissus, you’d end up a white flower

stuck in the ground with no will, plucked or trampled by gods,
and someone would say it was deserved,
for beauty to come down to a white flower,
a poor echo, and someone’s love stuck

in the ground, the ground, the ground, the ground.


Date: 2001

By: Kim Addonizio (1954- )

Monday, 24 February 2014

In Youth is Pleasure by Robert Wever

In a harbour grene aslepe whereas I lay,
The byrdes sang swete in the middes of the day,
I dreamèd fast of mirth and play:
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.

Methought I walked still to and fro,
And from her company I could not go—
But when I waked it was not so:
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.

Therefore my hart is surely pyght
Of her alone to have a sight
Which is my joy and hartes delight:
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.


Date: c1550

By: Robert Wever (?-?)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Lip and the Heart by John Quincy Adams

One day between the Lip and the Heart
A wordless strife arose
Which was expertest in the art
His purpose to disclose.

The Lip called forth the vassal Tongue,
And made him vouch—a lie!
The slave his servile anthem sung
And braved the listening sky.

The Heart to speak in vain essayed,
Nor could his purpose reach—
His will nor voice nor tongue obeyed,
His silence was his speech.

Mark thou their difference, child of earth!
While each performs his part
Not all the lip can speak is worth
The silence of the Heart.


Date: 1848

By: John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Graffiti on a Corner by Dermot Bolger

Each time I pause at this corner
It unlocks a private code:
Myriad labyrinths of memories
Flash past along the road.

The thrill of being chased, first kiss,
First time to encounter love:
You may see a bare street corner,
I glimpse a treasure trove.


Date: 2008

By: Dermot Bolger (1959- )

Friday, 21 February 2014

A Coronet for his Mistress, Philosophy by George Chapman

Muses that sing love’s sensual empery,
And lovers kindling your enraged fires
At Cupid’s bonfires burning in the eye,
Blown with the empty breath of vain desires;
You that prefer the painted cabinet
Before the wealthy jewels it doth store ye,
That all your joys in dying figures set,
And stain the living substance of your glory;
Abjure those joys, abhor their memory,
And let my love the honour’d subject be
Of love, and honour’s complete history.
Your eyes were never yet let in to see
The majesty and riches of the mind,
But dwell in darkness; for your god is blind.


Date: 1595

By: George Chapman (c1559-1634)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Ode XII. The Drum by John Scott

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace and glitt’ring arms;
And when Ambition’s voice commands,
To fight and fall in foreign lands.

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To me it talks of ravaged plains,
And burning towns and ruin’d swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widow’s tears, and orphans moans,
And all that Misery’s hand bestows,
To fill a catalogue of woes.


Date: 1782

By: John Scott (1730-1783)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Cat’s Cradle by Robyn Sarah

When women together sit sipping
cold tea and tugging at the
threads of memory, thoughtfully
pulling at this
or that bit or loop, or slipping
this loop over that finger till
warp and weft of past lives begin
crazily to unwind, when women sit
smoking and talking, the talk
making smoke in the air, when they shake
shreds of tobacco out of a crumpled pack
and keep drinking the same weak tea
from the same broken pot, something clicks
in the springs of the clock
and it’s yesterday again,
and the sprung yarn rolls down loose
from the spool of the moon.

When women together sit talking
an afternoon, when they talk
the sun down, talk stars, talk
dawn–they talk up a dust
of sleeping dogs and bones
and they talk a drum for the dust
to dance to, till the dance
drums up a storm; when women
sit drumming fingers on tops
of tables, when the tables turn
into tops that spin and hum
and the bobbin of the moon
keeps spinning its fine yarn down
to catch fingers, when fingers catch
talk in a cat’s cradle, and turn
talk into a net to catch the curve
of the storm–then it’s talk
against talk, till the tail
of the storm trails into dust
and they talk the dust back down.

Things that matter and don’t matter
are caught together, things done and undone,
and the kettle boils dry and over
while they lean closer to peer down
into the murky water where last night’s dream
flicks its tail and is gone
(and the reel of the moon keeps cranking
its long line down)–when women together
sit sipping cold tea and sawing on the strings
of memory, it is an old tune.
The rice sticks to the bottom of the pan,
and things get left out in the rain.


Date: 1992

By: Robyn Sarah (1949- )