Archive for ‘Translation’

Friday, 24 September 2021

Mad in the Morning by Gōzō Yoshimasu

I shout the first line of my poem
I write the first line
A carving knife stands up madly in the morning
These are my rights!

The glow of morning or a woman’s breasts are not always beautiful
Beauty is not always first
All music is a lie!
Ah! First of all, let’s close all the petals and fall down to the earth!

This morning, September 24, 1966
I wrote a letter to my dearest friend
About original sin
About the perfect crime and the method of destroying intelligence

What a drop of water rolling on my pale pink palm!
The woman’s breasts are reflected in a coffee saucer!
Oh! I can’t fall down!
Though I ran rapidly over the edge of the sword, the world has not disappeared!


Date: 1966 (original in Japanese); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Gōzō Yoshimasu (1939- )

Translated by: Y Yoshida (24 September 2021)

Friday, 17 September 2021

The March of Xerxes by Luigi Alamanni/Alemanni

When in the wantonness of kingly pride,
Vain Xerxes spurr’d his war-horse through the tide,
And bore his fleet o’er mountain tops—e’en there
The Eternal bade his evil heart despair:
O’er Hellespont and Athos’ marble head,
More than a god he came, less than a man he fled.

From: de Vere, Aubrey, Mary Tudor: An Historical Drama and Other Poems, 1847, William Pickering: London, p. 407.

Date: 1556 (original in Italian); 1818 (translation in English)

By: Luigi Alamanni/Alemanni (1495-1556)

Translated by: Aubrey de Vere (1788-1846)

Friday, 10 September 2021

[141] by Yoel Hoffmann

We owe nothing to no one. Certainly not a story. If we like we could write a single word 7,387 times. A word is as cheap as a stick. Or we could compose our sentences along the lines of Japanese syntax (that is, from the end to the beginning). Or insist that the publisher burn the bottom edge of the book so that the reader’s hand will be blackened by the charcoaled page . . .

From: Hoffmann, Yoel and Cole, Peter (transl.), Moods, 2015, New Directions Publishing: New York, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 2015 (original in Hebrew); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Yoel Hoffmann (1937- )

Translated by: Peter Cole (1957- )

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Fall, Plum Petals by Minteisengan

Fall, plum petals,
fall—and leave behind the memory
of scent.

From: Hoffmann, Yoel, Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death, 1986, Charles E. Tuttle Company: Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan, p. 244.

Date: 1844 (original in Japanese); 1986 (translation in English)

By: Minteisengan (1777-1844)

Translated by: Yoel Hoffmann (1937- )

Monday, 30 August 2021

Destiny by Natacha Féliz Franco

Love happens,
it is predestined.
The leaves’ green
sprouts in the city
Easter rabbits carry
happiness in their feet,
and in the exact triangle
two molecules meet,
love explodes.


Date: 2019 (original in Spanish); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Natacha Féliz Franco (19??- )

Translated by: Indran Amirthanayagam (1960- )

Friday, 13 August 2021

Some People Don’t Say Much by Han Dong

some people don’t say much
they are neither mute nor introverted
saying only what’s necessary
speaking only when courtesy demands it
floating on the surface of speech
this is how they are all their lives
summed up in a few phrases
some people live like epitaphs
long years reduced to a sentence or two
soberly like headstones they stand there
facing us.


Date: 2004 (original in Chinese); 2006 (translation in English)

By: Han Dong (1961- )

Translated by: Simon Patton (19??- )

Monday, 26 July 2021

Night Sounds by Paul van Ostaijen

There must be white farms beyond the edge
of the blue fields by the moon
at night you hear along distant roads
horse hooves
you hear everything then silent delusion
water is suddenly oozing from distant moon fountains
—you suddenly hear water
oozing in the night—
the horses drink hurriedly
and whinny
then they are heard trotting towards the stable again.


Date: 1928 (original in Dutch); 1982 (translation in English)

By: Paul van Ostaijen (1896-1928)

Translated by: James Stratton Holmes (1924-1986)

Friday, 23 July 2021

Three Burdens by Guido Pieter Theodorus Josephus Gezelle

Three burdens weigh upon my heart;
The first that men to death depart.
The second weighs still more on me:
I know not when my death shall be.
The third dismays me most of all;
‘t is that I know not what
thereafter shall befall!

From: Vincent, Paul (ed.), Poems of Guido Gezelle: A Bilingual Anthology, 2016, UCL Press: London, p. 147.

Date: 1886 (original in Dutch); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Guido Pieter Theodorus Josephus Gezelle (1830-1899)

Translated by: Albert van Eyken (19??- )

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Neither One by Catharina Questiers

Hence, Venus with your love
And Bacchus with your tun:
My taste chooses neither of you;
The Cypriot goddess aside I shove,
And drinking is no more fun.
Since it turns every head askew.
I enjoy a sweeter rest,
Which always gives me joy,
Let each love what they like best:
My freedom’s what I enjoy.

Parnassus’ mountainous pass
Is what my heart desires,
Where sensual joy I can view,
O fountain clear as glass.
I long for your liquid fires
That make me true to you;
In your wisdom I find rest
That always gives me joy.
Let each love what they like best:
My freedom’s what I enjoy.

O noble painter’s art,
To practise you delights
Much more than Venus’ love.
Your grace to me impart;
I hate Bacchus’ dizzy heights,
Your art is my heaven above,
Your love brings me such rest
And always brings me joy.
Let each love what they like best:
My freedom’s what I enjoy.

From: van Gemert, Lia; Joldersma, Hermina; van Marion, Olga; van der Poel, Dieuwke; and Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, Riet, Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1200-1875: A Bilingual Anthology, 2010, Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam, p. 289.

Date: 1663 (original in Dutch); 2010 (translation in English)

By: Catharina Questiers (1631-1669)

Translated by: Paul Vincent (19??- )

Friday, 9 July 2021

[The Eye’s Greatest Delight] by Abu al-Fadl Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf

We stayed in Baghdad against our will,
when we had become acquainted with her, we left involuntarily.

Loving lands is not our habit;
the bitterest in life is to leave people you love.

I left her though she was the eye’s greatest delight;
I left my heart there hostage.

From: Snir, Reuven, Baghdad: The City in Verse, 2013, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 65.

Date: c800 (original in Persian); 2013 (translation in English)

By: Abu al-Fadl Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf (750-809)

Translated by: Reuven Snir (1953- )