Posts tagged ‘1923’

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Sunflower by André Robert Breton

for Perre Reverdy

The traveller who crossed Les Halles at summer’s end
Walked on tiptoe
Despair rolled its great handsome lilies across the sky
And in her handbag was my dream that flask of salts
That only God’s godmother had breathed
Torpors unfurled like mist
At the Chien qui Fume
Where pro and con had just entered
They chould hardly see the young woman and then only at an angle
Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter
Or with the white curve on black background we call thought
The Innocents’ Ball was in full swing
The Chinese lanterns slowly caught fire in chestnut trees
The shadowless lady knelt on the Pont-au-Change
On Rue Gît-le-Coeur the stamps had changed
The night’s promises had been kept at last
The carrier pigeons and emergency kisses
Merged with the beautiful stranger’s breasts
Jutting beneath the crepe of perfect meanings
A farm prospered in the heart of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way
But no one was lived there yet because of the guests
Guests who are known to be more faithful than ghosts
Some like that woman appear to be swimming
And a bit of their substance becomes part of love
She internalizes them
I am the plaything of no sensory power
And yet the cricket who sang in hair of ash
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel
Threw me a knowing glance
André Breton it said pass

26 August 1923

From: Breton, André and Polizzotti, Mark (ed. and transl.), André Breton: Selections, 2003, University of California Press: Berkeley, pp. 71-72.

Date: 1923 (original in French); 2003 (translation in English)

By: André Robert Breton (1896-1966)

Translated by: Mark Polizzotti (1957- )

Friday, 10 December 2021

Myriad Stars, No. 34 by Bing Xin/Ping Hsin

The creators of the new continent
are not those roaring waves,
but the minuscule sands beneath them.

From: Lin, Julia C. (ed. and transl.), Twentieth-Century Chinese Women’s Poetry: An Anthology, 2009, Routledge: London and New York, p. 3.

Date: 1923 (original in Chinese); 2009 (translation in English)

By: Bing Xin/Ping Hsin (1900-1999)

Translated by: Julia Chang Lin (1928-2013)

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Renunciation by Joseph Freeman

Though you are lovely as the light of day
And perfumed as a courtesan of kings,
You are not worth a fragment of the things
That for your beauty I have given away.
What shall I find in you to take the place
Of books and friends and quiet wondering,
And battle and sweat and the world’s thundering?—
Only the fading glory of your face.
I have lost the bread of life for one brief rose,
And living waters for a drop of wine:
Far-off I hear the gates of darkness close
On promised lands that never shall be mine.
Thus morning after morning I cry in pain,
And night after night I come to you again.

From: Freeman, Joseph, “Renunciation” in Poetry, Vol. XXI, No. VI, Issue 70443, March 1923, p. 308.

Date: 1923

By: Joseph Freeman (1897-1965)

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Endless by Priyamvada Devi

Longing and eagerness re-born in spring are nurtured by Summer,
When the young fruit clusters on the branches,
And the dainty buds droop and fall.

Flowers scatter their fragrance and shake their petals to the ground,
But slowly the fruit swells up,
Filled with dewy nectar, colour and sweetness.

Ah me! This longing, this eagerness borne in by Autumn,
Where shall it find its fulfillment, where its end?
The distant void sky holds not a speck of cloud,
And the flowers and leaves of other days, where are they?

The trees stand apart, all bare,
Dry leaves fall in showers and cover the face of the earth,
And the thirsty dust flies moaning about, whirling in the wind.


Date: ? (original in Bengali) 1923 (translation in English)

By: Priyamvada Devi (1871-1935)

Translated by: Miss Whitehouse (?-?)

Saturday, 18 January 2020

The Home of the Heart by Muktabai

Where never darkness comes my home I’ve made;
There my delightsome lodging ever find.
That perfect shelter cannot fail our need;
Going and coming trouble us no more.
Beyond all vision and above all spheres,
He, our delight, our inmost sould indwells.
He, Mukta says, is our heart’s only home.

From: Macnicol, Margaret (ed.), Poems by Indian Women, Selected and Rendered by Various Translators, 1923, Association Press: Calcutta and Oxford University Press: London, p. 47.

Date: 13th century (original in Marathi); 1923 (translation in English)

By: Muktabai (1279-1297)

Translated by: Margaret Grant Campbell Macnicol (18??-19??) and D. K. Laddu (?-?)

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Beehive by Jean Toomer

Within this black hive to-night
There swarm a million bees;
Bees passing in and out the moon,
Bees escaping out the moon,
Bees returning through the moon,
Silver bees intently buzzing,
Silver honey dripping from the swarm of bees
Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb,
And I, a drone,
Lying on my back,
Lipping honey,
Getting drunk with that silver honey,
Wish that I might fly out past the moon
And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.


Date: 1923

By: Jean Toomer (1894-1967)

Monday, 8 October 2018

Sunflowers by Eugenio Montale

Bring me the sunflower so that I can transplant it
in my soil burnt by salt air,
and show all day to the mirroring blues
of the sky the anxiety of its yellow face.

Dark things tend towards clarity,
bodies consume themselves in a flowing
of colours: these in music. Vanishing
is thus the chance of chances.

Bring me the plant that leads
where blonde transparencies rise
and life evaporates like spirit;
bring me the sunflower crazed with the light.


Date: 1923 (original in Italian); 2001 (translation in English)

By: Eugenio Montale (1896-1981)

Translated by: Jack Ross (1962- )

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Song of the Man Who Was Weary of Life by Anonymous

This day is Death before my eyes
As when a man grown well again,
And rising from a bed of pain,
The garden sees

This day is Death before my eyes
Like fragrant myrrh’s alluring smell,
Like sitting ’neath the sails which swell
In favouring breeze

This day is Death before my eyes
Like water-bosomed lotus scent,
Or when, the traveller, worn and spent,
At last drinks deep.

This day is Death before my eyes
As when the soldier glimpses home,
As pent-up garden-waters foam
Down channels steep.

This day is Death before my eyes
As when, mist clearing from the blue,
The hunter’s quarry leaps to view,
Like this is Death before my eyes
As when, the captive, bound in pain,
Yearns sore to see his home again,
Like this is Death
While we draw breath,
We seek life’s prize
The prize is – Death.

From: Sharpley, C. Elissa (ed.), Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Poems, 1925, John Murray: London, pp. 79-80.

Date: c1850 BCE (original in Egyptian hieroglyphs); 1923 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: George Anthony Armstrong Willis (1897-1972)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Date: 1923

By: Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

No Mourning, By Request by Winifred Holtby

Come not to mourn for me with solemn tread
Clad in dull weeds of sad and sable hue,
Nor weep because my tale of life’s told through.
Casting light dust on my untroubled head.
Nor linger near me while the sexton fills
My grave with earth – but go gay-garlanded,
And in your halls a shining banquet spread
And gild your chambers o’er with daffodils.

Fill your tall goblets with white wine and red,
And sing brave songs of gallant love and true,
Wearing soft robes of emerald and blue,
And dance, as I your dances oft have led,
And laugh, as I have often laughed with you –
And be most merry – after I am dead.

From: Brittain, Vera, Testament of Friendship, 2012, Hachette Digital: London, p. 1.

Date: 1923

By: Winifred Holtby (1898-1935)