Posts tagged ‘1958’

Thursday, 8 October 2020

The Photograph Album by John Joseph Meagher Thompson

Smile on them gently. These are the family ghosts,
Who once were persons: now they are stuck down flat.
They all were lovers of pies, puddings, and roasts.
Not one of them ever went out without a hat.

Rococo gardens dangling in blossomy loops
And canvas seas and improbable plants in pots
Incongruously surround these stony groups
Of maids and mashers and patriarchs and tots.

Look how they stand at bay, how solid and square,
Brushed and buttoned and with their heads held high,
Hands and feet disposed with a modish care,
Stricken by the callow camera’s gorgon eye.

What of this statuesque unbending wife?
This frigid frowning father? None will guess
That she was sprightly and lovable all her life.
And he had a name for fervor and friendliness.

What of this whiskered uncle, grave and grim?
This aunt, forbiddingly braced and booted and bodiced?
Gambling, drubbing, and drink were the ruin of him.
She, it is said, was scandalously immodest.

None of it shows. Locked up in stillness, made
As blank as waxworks and as stiff as wood,
Their foxed and yellowing effigies, as they fade,
Betray no sparkle of laughter or lustihood.

A whirr and a click released them, years ago,
From the chill gripe of momentary grimaces;
The photographer ceased his devilish to-do;
They sprang to life, resumed their ordinary faces,

And took their hats, and went about their tasks,
Until the tomb received them, six-foot deep.
All that the instant peephole caught was masks.
Fold them away, and leave them to their sleep.


From: Thompson, John, “The Photograph Album” in The Bulletin, Volume 79 Number 4103 (1 October 1958), p. 32.

Date: 1958

By: John Joseph Meagher Thompson (1907-1968)

Saturday, 23 May 2020

For Years I Wallowed by Itzik Manger

For years I wallowed about in the world,
Now I’m going home to wallow there.
With a pair of shoes and the shirt on my back,
And the stick in my hand that goes with me everywhere.

I’ll not kiss your dust as that great poet did,
Though my heart, like his, is filled with song and grief
How can I kiss your dust? I am your dust.
And how, I ask you, can I kiss myself?

Still dressed in my shabby clothes
I’ll stand and gape at the blue Kinneret
Like a roving prince who has found his blue
Though blue was in his dream when he first started.

I’ll not kiss your blue, I’ll merely stand
Silent as a shimenesre prayer myself.
How can I kiss your blue? I am your blue.
And how, I ask you, can I kiss myself?

Musing, I’ll stand before your great desert,
And hear the camels’ ancient tread as they
Sway with trade and Torah on their humps.
I’ll hear the age-old hovering wander-song
That trembles over glowing sand and dies,
And then recalls itself and does not disappear.
I’ll not kiss your sand. No, and ten times no.
How can I kiss your sand? I am your sand.
And how, I ask you, can I kiss myself?


Date: 1958 (original in Yiddish); 1984 (translation in English)

By: Itzik Manger (1901-1969)

Translated by: Leonard George Wolf (1923-2019)

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)

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Dark Blot [Le Point Noir] by Gérard de Nerval (Labrunie)

He who has gazed against the sun sees everywhere
he looks thereafter, palpitating on the air
before his eyes, a smudge that will not go away.

So in my days of still-youth, my audacity,
I dared look on the splendor momentarily.
The dark blot on my greedy eyes has come to stay.

Since when, worn like a badge of mourning in the sight
of all around me where my eye may chance to light,
I see the dark smudge settle upon everyone.

Forever thus between my happiness and me?
Alas for us, the eagle only, only he
can look, and not be hurt, on splendor and the sun.

From: Flores, Angel (ed.), The Anchor Anthology of French Poetry from Nerval to Valéry in English Translation, 2000, Anchor Books: New York, pp. 8-9.

Date: 1853 (original in French); 1958 (translation in English)

By: Gérard de Nerval (Labrunie) (1808-1855)

Translated by: Richmond Alexander Lattimore (1906-1984)

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Fifth of November by Karl Watts Gransden

The children celebrate a failure and a treason
And make the grown-ups turn it into
Bangs and coloured lights in the dark drizzle,
A party and a holiday.

For the grown-ups have nothing to celebrate,
Nothing to transform
Into the bonfire’s circle a charm against the dark:

If they drew near, their failure might dowse the fire;
And their treason
Still crouches in a cellar, waiting to be caught.

From: Gransden, K. W., “Fifth of November” in Encounter, April 1958, p. 42.

Date: 1958

By: Karl Watts Gransden (1925-1998)

Monday, 1 May 2017

Hay for the Horses by Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
—The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds—
“I’m sixty-eight” he said,
“I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that’s just what
I’ve gone and done.”


Date: 1958

By: Gary Snyder (1930- )

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

First Leaves by Sabine Sicaud

You reach your little tree-green hands to me,
Little green hands of trees lined orderly.
The old wounds crumble, wounds are seen
Scarring the aging houses, yet you reach
Your hedge-hands to my fingers, each to each.
Your little fingers green.

Little shell-fingers, young,
Luminous, eager, hurrying to grow…
You reach over the old walls spread below.
An old wall says: “Beware wild gusts, beware
The sun, burning unstrung.
Beware the night twinkling the air.
Beware the goat, the caterpillar’s tongue…
Beware life, little fingers green!”

Fingers, like rough or tender claws this morning,
How well you know what those walls mean.
Cassandra-voiced, they warn you. But what for?
Tissue-like fingers, or
Velveted, or enamelled, shimmering green–
How well you know why you ignore
Those ashen-coloured walls and all their warning…

Frail little fans of green,
Hands of next summer’s heat,
How well we know why you eschew
Those crumbling roofs and the old walls effete:
Over the walls, it’s youth that you
Are reaching to…

From: Shapiro, Norman R (ed), French Women Poets of Nine Centuries. The Distaff and the Pen, 2008, The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, p. 1049.

Date: 1958 (French publication); 2009 (translation)

By: Sabine Sicaud (1913-1928)

Translated by: Norman R Shapiro (?- )

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Castle of the Cormorants by Richard Brautigan

Hamlet with
a cormorant
under his arm
married Ophelia.
She was still
wet from drowning.
She looked like
a white flower
that had been
left in the
rain too long.
I love you,
said Ophelia,
and I love
that dark
bird you
hold in
your arms.

     Big Sur
     February 1958


Date: 1958

By: Richard Brautigan (1935-1984)

Monday, 7 November 2011

A Dedication to My Wife by T S Eliot

To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
the breathing in unison.

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech,
And babble the same speech without need of meaning…

No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only

But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.


Date: ?1958

By: T S Eliot (1888-1965)