Posts tagged ‘1960’

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Noah’s Song by Evan Lloyd Jones

The animals are silent in the hold,
Only the lion coughing in the dark
As in my ageing arms once more I fold
My mistress and the mistress of the Ark.

That, the rain, and the lapping of the sea:
Too many years have brought me to this boat
Where days swim by with such monotony,
Days of the fox, the lion and the goat.

Her breathing and the slow beat of the clock
Accentuate the stillness of the room,
Whose walls and floor and ceiling seem to lock
Into a space as single as the tomb.

A single room set up against the night,
The hold of animals, and nothing more:
For any further world is out of sight –
There are no people, and there is no shore.

True, time passes in unbroken peace:
To some, no doubt, this Ark would seem a haven.
But all that I can hope for is release.
Tomorrow I’ll send out the dove and raven.


Date: 1960

By: Evan Lloyd Jones (1931- )

Saturday, 1 January 2022

New Year’s Poem by Margaret Avison

The Christmas twigs crispen and needles rattle
Along the window-ledge.
A solitary pearl
Shed from the necklace spilled at last week’s party
Lies in the suety, snow-luminous plainness
Of morning, on the window-ledge beside them.
And all the furniture that circled stately
And hospitable when these rooms were brimmed
With perfumes, furs, and black-and-silver
Crisscross of seasonal conversation, lapses
Into its previous largeness.
I remember
Anne’s rose-sweet gravity, and the stiff grave
Where cold so little can contain;
I mark the queer delightful skull and crossbones
Starlings and sparrows left, taking the crust,
And the long loop of winter wind
Smoothing its arc from dark Arcturus down
To the bricked corner of the drifted courtyard,
And the still window-ledge.
Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill, habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.


Date: 1960

By: Margaret Avison (1918-2007)

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

[I Am Nobody] by Richard Nathaniel Wright

I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.


Date: 1960

By: Richard Nathaniel Wright (1908-1960)

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

The Refugee by Marjorie Battcock

Mud dark above the stream the factory’s finger
Points through the rain towards a sodden sky,
Setting and cold crush her desire to linger,
Barred shops and shuttered windows mute the street,
The scene’s decay is like an ugly cry.

She turns towards her home, a furnished room,
Its paint beer-brown, its three-piece, saxe-blue plush,
Where a bald light diminishes the gloom,
But leaves her chilled, and turns her thoughts towards,
The foreign city that was once her home, lush

In the summer with grape-green linden trees;
Evenings of music, cafés, interchange
Of differing views; all this she sees,
Vivid in retrospect, each richly-textured day
Ended with war; instead the pinchbeck range

Of work’s monotony, that dims her pride
In memories. But for this isolation
She blames herself—friends have been tortured, died,
She, rootless, without future, should be glad,
And being so, deny her desolation.

From: Reilly, Catherine W. (ed.), Chaos of the Night: Women’s Poetry and Verse of the Second World War, 1984, Virago: London, p. 12.

Date: 1960

By: Marjorie Battcock (fl. 1956-1964)

Monday, 21 June 2021

Letter to the Light by Rolf Jacobsen

Morning’s paper is splendidly unfolded
on the Earth, it is a new day
and a tractor is already out there with its lumpy fist,
writing a letter to the light, growling
each letter aloud to itself, for it’s important
to get everything in, the thunder and the bees,
the ant trail that’s extended its little
silken foot in the grass, our peace
and the unease we feel about everything—it has to get all these in.

Large moist lines and a slow hand
that shakes a lot but not it’s all said,
the page is full and everything’s laid out in the open
like a letter to no-one, the plow’s letter
to light that anyone’s welcome to read.

From: Jacobsen, Rolf and Greenwald, Roger (transl.), North in the World: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen, A Bilingual Edition, 2002, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, p. 123.

Date: 1960 (original in Norwegian); 1985 (translation in English)

By: Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994)

Translated by: Roger Greenwald (1945- )

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Seaspin by Gregory Nunzio Corso

To drown to be slow hair
To be fish minstrelry
One eye to flick and stare
The fathomed wreck to see –
Forever down to drown
Descend the squid’s conclave
Black roof the whale’s belly
Oyster floor the grave –

My sea-ghost rise
And slower hair
Silverstreaks my eyes
Up up I whirl
And wonder where –

To breathe in Neptune’s cup
Nudge gale and tempest
Feel the mermaid up
To stay to pin my hair
On the sea-horse’s stirrup— –


Date: 1960

By: Gregory Nunzio Corso (1930-2001)

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Skin Spinners by Joan Delano Aiken

Poets, clustered like spiders, sing
shrilly of the gadfly’s wing
and make of air and dust and flesh
a subtle and a silver mesh,
study the seasons and the trends
times, fashions, tides, for their own ends;
all is foretold, all comes to pass
spun, spinning, in a web of glass;
brooding above the throng of flies
they watch with penetrating eyes
and turn the living and the dead
impartially to daily bread.

From: Aiken, Joan, The Skin Spinners: Poems, 1976, The Viking Press: New York, p. 57.

Date: 1960

By: Joan Delano Aiken (1924-2004)

Sunday, 17 February 2019

What Horror to Awake at Night by Lorine Niedecker

What horror to awake at night
and in the dimness see the light.
Time is white
mosquitoes bite
I’ve spent my life on nothing.

The thought that stings. How are you, Nothing,
sitting around with Something’s wife.
Buzz and burn
is all I learn
I’ve spent my life on nothing.

I’m pillowed and padded, pale and puffing
lifting household stuffing—
carpets, dishes
benches, fishes
I’ve spent my life in nothing.


Date: c1960

By: Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970)

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

If You Never Come Again by Binoy Majumdar

If you never come again, never blow through these steaming regions
like cooling drifts of the upper air, even that absence is an encounter.
Your absence is as of the blue rose
from the kingdom of flowers. Who knows, some day
you may yet appear. Maybe you have, only you are too close.
Can I smell my own hair?
Marvellous sights have been seen.
A full moon was to have risen last night —
only a quivering sickle appeared!
It was an eclipse.

I have given up strewing grain on the ground
to have the birds join me at lunch.
Only when the baby is cut adrift
does it have its free hunger and thirst;
like taking off a blindfold to be confronted with
a curtain, being born
into this vast uterus, lined with a sky porous with stars.


Date: 1960 (original in Bengali); 1968 (translation in English)

By: Binoy Majumdar (1934-2006)

Translated by: Jyotirmoy Datta (1936- )

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Messiah After the Crucifixion by Badr Shakir al Sayyab

After I was brought down, I heard the winds
Whip the palm trees with wild laments;
Footsteps receded into infinity. Wounds
And the cross I was nailed to all afternoon
Didn’t kill me. I listened. A cry of grief
Crossed the plain between me and the city
Like a hawser pulling a ship
Destined to sink. The cry
Was a thread of light between morning
And night in sad winter sky.
Despite all this, the city fell asleep.

When the orange and mulberry trees bloom
When my village Jaykour reaches the limits of fantasy
When grass grows green and sings with fragrance
And the sun suckles it with brilliance
When even darkness grows green
Warmth touches my heart and my blood flows into earth
My heart becomes sun, when sun throbs with light
My heart become earth, throbbing with wheat, blossom and sweet water
My heart is water, an ear of corn
Its death is resurrection. It lives in him who eats
The dough, round as a little breast, life’s breast.
I died by fire. When I burned, the darkness of my clay disappeared. Only God remained.
I was the beginning, and in the beginning was poverty
I died so bread would be eaten in my name
So I would be sown in season.
Many are the lives I’ll live. In every soil
I’ll become a future, a seed, a generation of men
A drop of blood, or more, in every man’s heart.

Then I returned. When Judas saw me he turned pale
I was his secret!
He was a shadow of mine, grown dark
The frozen image of an idea
From which life was plucked
He feared I might reveal death in his eyes
(his eyes were a rock
behind which he hid his death)
He feared my warmth. It was a threat to him so he betrayed it.
“Is this you? Or is it my shadow grown white emitting light?
Men die only once! That’s what our fathers said
That’s what they taught us. Or was it a lie?!”
That’s what he said when he saw me. His whole face spoke.

I hear footsteps, approaching and falling
The tomb rumbles with their fall
Have they come again? Who else could it be?
Their falling footsteps follow me
I lay rocks on my chest
Didn’t they crucify me yesterday? Yet here I am!
Who could know that I . . . ? Who?
And as for Judas and his friends, no one will believe them.
Their footsteps follow me and fall.

Here I am now, naked in my dank tomb
Yesterday I curled up like a thought, a bud
Beneath my shroud of snow. My blood bloomed from moisture
I was then a thin shadow between night and day.
When I burst my soul into treasures and peeled it like fruit
When I turned my pockets into swaddling clothes and my sleeves into a cover
When I kept the bones of little children warm within my flesh
And stripped my wounds to dress the wound of another
The wall between me and God disappeared.
The soldiers surprised even my wounds and my heartbeats
They surprised all that wasn’t dead even if it was a tomb
They took me by surprise the way a flock of starving birds pluck the fruit of a palm tree in a deserted village.

The rifles are pointed and have eyes with which they devour my road
Their fire dreams of my crucifixion
Their eyes are made of fire and iron
The eyes of my people are light in the skies they shine with memory and love.
Their rifles relieve me of my burden; my cross grows moist. How small
Such death is! My death. And yet how great!

After I was nailed to the cross, I cast my eyes toward the city
I could hardly recognize the plain, the wall, the cemetery
Something, as far as my eyes could see, sprung forth
Like a forest in bloom
Everywhere there was a cross and a mourning mother
Blessed be the Lord! Such are the pains of a city in labor.


Date: 1960 (original in Arabic); 1975 (translation in English)

By: Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1926-1964)

Translated by: Ben M. Bennani (1946- )