Posts tagged ‘1943’

Friday, 9 October 2020

Public Library by Karl Jay Shapiro

To E.P.F.L.

Voltaire would weep for joy, Plato would stare.
What is it, easier than a church to enter,
Politer than a department store, this centre
That like Grand Central leads to everywhere?
Is it more civic than the City Hall?
For whose great heart is this the monument?
Where is the reader at the stationer’s stall,
The copyist hollow-eyed and bald and bent?

Its one demand is freedom, its one motto
Deep in the door, Read, Know and Tolerate.
That tree of knowledge from which Adam ate
Flourishes here, our costly quid pro quo.
It shades us like a Mission with its green,
Its girls, its neatness, and its excellent quiet.
In all the city no paving is so clean,
So broad, so permanent. Croesus cannot buy it.

Long long ago these photographs of thought
In cell and stoa and school and catacomb
Accumulated; scroll, palimpsest, tome,
Books chained to walls and Bibles bound in brass,
Fragments of science, cherished, disinterred,
And one found a machine that like a glass
Could mirror, multiply and save the word.

Who kriows? Some disappointed scholar here,
Some poet with vision faultless as a beam,
Some child with half-articulated dream,
May reach and touch the spring that opens clear
On brilliant prospects of new history.
How many daily doubts are here resolved,
Secrets exhumed, brought out of mystery,
Hypotheses defeated, cases solved?

And what we call behaviour and goodwill
Are modelled here in fiction. On the slate
Of the fresh mind fresh images dilate,
And lives turn at a phrase, and lives stand still.
This gathering of silent volumes roars
Uninterrupted, ceaseless, without ban;
These teachings break through wide-flung open doors,
The Talmud, Naso, and The Rights of Man.

May 24, 1943,
New Guinea.

From: Shapiro, Karl, “Public Library” in Southerly: The Magazine of the Australian English Association, Sydney, Volume Five, Number One, 1944, p. 4.

Date: 1943

By: Karl Jay Shapiro (1913-2000)

Monday, 9 October 2017

For My Daughter by Weldon Kees

Looking into my daughter’s eyes I read
Beneath the innocence of morning flesh
Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed.
Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh
Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;
The night’s slow poison, tolerant and bland,
Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen
That may be hers appear: foul, lingering
Death in certain war, the slim legs green.
Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting
Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel
Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.
These speculations sour in the sun.
I have no daughter. I desire none.


Date: 1943

By: Weldon Kees (1914-1955)

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Scotland by Christopher Murray Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid)

It requires great love of it deeply to read
The configuration of a land,
Gradually grow conscious of fine shadings,
Of great meanings in slight symbols,
Hear at last the great voice that speaks softly,
See the swell and fall upon the flank
Of a statue carved out in a whole country’s marble,
Be like Spring, like a hand in a window
Moving New and Old things carefully to and fro,
Moving a fraction of flower here,
Placing an inch of air there,
And without breaking anything.
So I have gathered unto myself
All the loose ends of Scotland,
And by naming them and accepting them,
Loving them and identifying myself with them,
Attempt to express the whole.


Date: 1943

By: Christopher Murray Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid) (1892-1978)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Trapped Man or the Freedom of Small Nations by Nigel Heseltine

In the Italianate landscape the trapped man,
his feet on the map, rising with his two fists,
where the hills darken and the sinuous roads
vanish in the marshes, he has
his hair in the breeze and the shackles are corroded.

Like a mouth in the evening air, the red
and purple sea, glazed with the night
four hours away on the water, the man
has might in his stance, in his mouth
the words that the crowd love,
and slits with which the moving herd is marked.

In an acre the conical mountain
freezes to its top, the chains shaking
are splintering ice like drinks in a glass
tinkle of women and scent and falling lace;
thick-faced bridge players are in
love with the death they read,
four-deep, five-deep, in young men’s faces.

His all is his stance
the garlands bars, land
lies in his map; two feet mark
the beyond and after, this is the beginning
of uniformed monument guards, and national parks.


Date: 1943

By: Nigel Heseltine (1916-1995)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Poem from the Autobiography of an Old Landowner, Who Died Recently by Patrick Evans

He died before he died

Melting the orange seems about to drop,
Distil away and sweeten silence more,
Silence already sweet; heavy and dark
The orange grove where thrives this patient dark.

The heron’s regal state mysterious
Is out of fashion nowadays. His breast
Is gentle ermine, and his long thin crest
Hangs needle-like. Fantastic pride is his.

But no one knows or cares. And in such scenes
As these my part has so far been
Largely enacted, wholly generated:
The love of horses, urge to shape, hot blood
And all my acts and lassitudes. My friends
Who know me know this has been.

Yet I and all like those me stand still now
Lonely as any bell that utters music
And cannot know the reason why; the world
(The individual lost, the mass retained,
The war which splits the thunderbolt in two)
Discovers nonsense not the core of light,
And men become more stupid as they fight.


Date: 1943

By: Patrick Evans (?- )

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Now No Spring by Katherine Anne Porter (Callie Russell Porter)

For early tears and child’s grief
Spring would send the shapely leaf;
For young grief and early sorrow
Summer brought a ripened furrow.

Now no Spring can set me free
From the thing that troubles me
And no summer soothe again
With its sleepy airs and rain
The winter-wakened scars of pain.

From: Porter, Katherine Anne, Katherine Anne Porter’s Poetry/edited with an introduction by Darlene Harbour Unrue, 1996, University of South Carolina: Columbia, South Carolina, p. 77.

Date: 1943

By: Katherine Anne Porter (Callie Russell Porter) (1890-1980)

Monday, 28 January 2013

Campo dei Fiori by Czesław Miłosz

In Rome, on Campo dei Fiori,
baskets of olives and lemons
cobbles spattered with wine
and the wreckage of flowers.
Vendors cover the trestles
with rose-pink fish;
armfuls of dark grapes
heaped on peach-down.

On this same square
they burned Giordano Bruno.
Henchmen kindled the pyre
close-pressed by the mob.
Before the flames had died
the taverns were full again,
baskets of olives and lemons
again on the vendors’ shoulders.

I thought of Campo dei Fiori
in Warsaw by the sky-carousel
one clear spring evening
to the strains of a carnival tune.
The bright melody drowned
the salvos from the ghetto wall,
and couples were flying
high in the blue sky.

At times wind from the burning
would drift dark kites along
and riders on the carrousel
caught petals in midair.
That same hot wind
blew open the skirts of the girls
and the crowds were laughing
on the beautiful Warsaw Sunday.

Someone will read a moral
that the people of Rome and Warsaw
haggle, laugh, make love
as they pass by martyrs’ pyres.
Someone else will read
of the passing of things human,
of the oblivion
born before the flames have died.

But that day I thought only
of the loneliness of the dying,
of how, when Giordano
climbed to his burning
he could not find
in any human tongue
words for mankind,
mankind who live on.

Already they were back at their wine
or peddled their white starfish,
baskets of olives and lemons
they had shouldered to the fair,
and he already distanced
as if centuries had passed
while they paused just a moment
for his flying in the fire.

Those dying here, the lonely
forgotten by the world,
our tongue becomes for them
the language of an ancient planet.
Until, when all is legend
and many years have passed,
on a new Campo dei Fiori
rage will kindle at a poet’s word.


Date: 1943

By: Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004)

Translated by: Louis Iribarne (?- ) & David Brooks (1953- )