Archive for March, 2020

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Till Other Voices Wake Us by George Oppen

the generations

and the solace

of flight memory

of adolescence with my father
in France we started
at monuments as tho we treaded

water stony

waters of the monuments and so turned
then hurriedly

on our course
before we might grow tired
and so drown and writing

thru the night (a young man,
Brooklyn, 1929) I named the book

series empirical
series all force
in events the myriad

lights have entered
us it is a music more powerful

than music

till other voices wake
us or we drown.

From: Axelrod, Steven Gould; Roman, Camille; and Travisano, Thomas (eds.), The New Anthology of American Poetry: Postmodernisms 1950-Present, Volume Three, 2012, Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London, p. 18.

Date: 1978

By: George Oppen (1908-1984)

Monday, 30 March 2020

Majestic Valley by Chu Yi-tsun

Birds become frightened when the mountain moon sets;
Trees stand still when the valley wind dies.
When the monastery drum rolls through the deep forest,
The hermit monks have already prepared their meal.

From: Liu, Wu-chi and Lo, Irving Yucheng (eds.), Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, 1990, Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianopolis, p. 476.

Date: 17th century (original in Chinese); ?1958 (translation in English)

By: Chu Yi-tsun (1629-1709)

Translated by: Yangulaoren (1867-1941) and Lewis Calvin Walmsley (1897-1998)

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Times to Come by Charles A. Houfe

The moon that borrows now a gentle light
Once burned another sun; then from on high
The earth received a double day; the sky
Showed but faint stars, and never knew a night.
The poles, now frigid and for ever white
With the deep snows that on their bosoms lie,
Were torrid as the moon that hung thereby
And mingled rays as fiercely hot as bright.
Mutations infinite! Through shifting sea
And lands huge monstrous beasts once took their range
Where now our stately world shows pleasantly!
Then be not fearful at the thought of change,
For though unknown the times that are to be,
Yet shall they prove most beautifully strange.


Date: 1885

By: Charles A. Houfe (fl. 1885)

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Neutral by John Hogben

Spoken in the name of the Allies.

Her spawn of spies — forerunners — filled the world;
Right from its ancient pedestal was hurled;
Rapine and lust, twin-sisters, followed fast
Upon her cloven footprints as she passed
From fury unto fury, demon-driven,
Vaunting the while her kinship still with Heaven;
She broke on every hand the laws of war;
Fair chivalry forsook her evermore:
She turned and smote each gallant little land
That to the death took up its valorous stand
In front of her amazing march of Hell,
Till, loyal to the last, each, fighting, fell.
To stay her course, — was it not Freedom’s task?
“How shall I help?” surely the thing to ask.
We fought the whole world’s battle, yet there stood
Her future victims in a doubting mood, —
Faint calling on the god of war to cease,
While smoking their war-gilded pipes of peace:
Some were too proud to fight; too timid some;
Much cried for protest — but their lips were dumb:
As if, forsooth, morality were dead,
And devil-worship reigned alone instead;
As if — and this the years to come will show —
To save their own our braver blood must flow.
On Europe’s chart, as it is known to-day,
Satanic fingers hellish pigments lay:
‘Tis monstrous, surely, crimson crimes’ imprint
Should neighbour be to any neutral tint!

From: Hogben, John, The Highway of Hades: War Verses: With Some Prose, 1919, Oliver and Boyd: Edinburgh, p. 52.

Date: 1916

By: John Hogben (18??-19??)

Friday, 27 March 2020

After Arguing against the Contention That Art Must Come from Discontent by William Edgar Stafford

Whispering to each handhold, “I’ll be back,”
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind—
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward. . . .

I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark—
“Made it again!” Oh how I love this climb!
—the whispering to stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
“Made it again! Made it again!”


Date: 1982

By: William Edgar Stafford (1914-1993)

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Lessons from a Mirror by Thylias Moss

Snow White was nude at her wedding, she’s so white
the gown seemed to disappear when she put it on.

Put me beside her and the proximity is good
for a study of chiaroscuro, not much else.

Her name aggravates me most, as if I need to be told
what’s white and what isn’t.

Judging strictly by appearance there’s a future for me
forever at her heels, a shadow’s constant worship.

Is it fair for me to live that way, unable
to get off the ground?

Turning the tables isn’t fair unless they keep turning.
Then there’s the danger of Russian roulette

and my disadvantage: nothing falls from the sky
to name me.

I am the empty space where the tooth was, that my tongue
rushes to fill because I can’t stand vacancies.

And it’s not enough. The penis just fills another
gap. And it’s not enough.

When you look at me,
know that more than white is missing.


Date: 1989

By: Thylias Moss (1954- )

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Like a Prisoner of Soft Words by Carolyn Doris Wright

We walk under the wires and the birds resettle.
We know where we’re going but have not made up our mind
which way we will take to get there.
If we pass by the palmist’s she can read our wayward lines.
We may drop things along the way that substantiate our having been here.
We will not be able to transmit any of these feelings verbatim.
By the time we reach the restaurant one of us is angry.
Here a door gives in to a courtyard
overlooking a ruined pool.
We suspect someone has followed one or the other of us.
We touch the spot on our shirt where the ink has seeped.
The lonely outline of the host is discerned near an unlit sconce.
As guests we are authorized not to notice.
We drop some cash on the tablecloth.
We lack verisimilitude but we press on with intense resolve.
At the border, under a rim of rock, the footbridge.
Salt cedars have grown over the path.
The water table is down.
And we cannot see who is coming, the pollos and their pollero,
the migra, the mules, the Minutemen, the women
who wash for the other women al otro lado.
Or the murdered boy herding his goats after school. 6:27,
the fell of dark, not day.


Date: 2007

By: Carolyn Doris Wright (1949-2016)

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

A Song by Alexander Webster

Oh! how could I venture to love one like thee,
Or thou not despise a poor conquest like me!
On lords thy admirers could look with disdain,
And tho’ I was nothing, yet pity my pain!

You said, when they teaz’d you with nonsense and dress,
When real the passion, the vanity’s less;
You saw thro’ that silence, which others despise,
And while beaux were prating, read love in my eyes.

Oh! where is the nymph that like thee ne’er can cloy,
Whose with can enliven the dull pause of joy;
And when the sweet transport is all at an end,
From beautiful mistress, turn sensible friend!

When I see thee I love thee, but hearing adore,
I wonder, and think you a woman no more;
Till mad with admiring I cannot contain,
And kissing those lips find you woman again.

In all that I write I’ll they judgment require,
Thy taste shall correct, what thy love did inspire;
I’ll kiss thee, and press thee, till youth is all o’er,
And then live on friendship, when passion’s no more.

From: “A Song” in The London Magazine, Or, Gentelman’s Monthly Intelligencer, Volume 16, 1747, p. 547.

Date: 1747

By: Alexander Webster (1708-1784)

Monday, 23 March 2020

In the Loneliness of My Heart by Kasa no Iratsume

In the loneliness of my heart
I feel as if I should perish
Like the pale dew-drop
Upon the grass of my garden
In the gathering shades of twilight.

From: Keene, Donald, Seeds in the Heart: Japanes Literature from Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century, 1993, Henry Holt and Company: New York, p. 151.

Date: early 8th century (original in Japanese), 1993 (translation in English)

By: Kasa no Iratsume (early 8th century)

Translated by: Donald Lawrence Keene (1922-2019)

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Double Existence by Mary Victoria Novello Cowden Clarke

Two lives are lived by many a living soul,
An outer and an inner life: the one,
In sympathy with friends, in open tone
Expressed, and frankly patent to the whole
Community ‘midst whom our days do roll
Their course. The other, secret, mute, alone
With God and our own thoughts, laid bare and prone
Before His eye—their judge and witness sole.
A crowd of musings, hopes, high aspirations,
Of penitential tears, sharp agonies,
Of earnest strivings, conscious aberrations,
We pass among and through without surmise
By those who, from our cradle to our grave
Can mark how staidly, calmly, we behave.

From: Clarke Cowden, Mary, Honey from the Weed: Verses, 1881, C. Kegan Paul & Co.: London, p. 330.

Date: 1881

By: Mary Victoria Novello Cowden Clarke (1809-1898)