Posts tagged ‘1961’

Friday, 28 August 2020

Love Song by Paul Blackburn

Beauty is a promise of happiness
And happiness is a big, fat-assed
stuffed bird
that cannot, in its ideal state, move
off its fat

i.e. , I am not Ariel,
I am Caliban,
and sometimes it is very ugly.

From: Blackburn, Paul, The Nets, 1961, Trobar: New York, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1961

By: Paul Blackburn (1926-1971)

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Clay-Land Moods by Reginald John “Jack” Clemo

There squats amid these pyramids
The Sphinx-mood of a Deity,
Unfelt until He bids
Sandstorms awaken and the choking dust
Drive me across the moors of barren trust.
Then I perceive the aloof grey shape, the scorn,
Quiet veiled cruelty of the watching eyes:
The grim mysterious Will all help denies.
The feet press out until my roots are torn,
Caught by the mauling claws. In silence He
Smothers and tortures me.

Here on the sharp clay-tip there broods
Olympian thunder, bold and swift,
Fiercest of all God’s moods.
One flash therefrom and peaks of vision seethe
With hostile potency: while wrathful vapours writhe
I creep down rain-grooves, cravenly slink to hide
In caves of the pit, and bruised with panic prayer
Unknown to Mammon’s sober workmen there,
I wait till lightnings, thunder-rasps have died
And God allows His terror-mood to lift
From off the senseless rift.

There is a certain mystic hour
When pyramid and clay-tip grow
Alive with darker power;
A mood unknown to Nature, a mortal mood
Caught up into His Godhead: taste of blood,
Anguish that makes each tip-frame a gibbet, bared
Until I feel on each the swing of my hand, a pale
Ghost-self of primal guilt that drives the nail.
And the Sphinx-mood is mercy, Olympus tame compared
With my deserts. Then I begin to know
Why I am tested so.

From: Astley, Neil (ed.), Poetry with an Edge, 1988, Bloodaxe Books: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, p. 29.

Date: 1961

By: Reginald John “Jack” Clemo (1916-1994)

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note by Amiri Baraka (Everett LeRoi Jones/Imamu Amear Baraka)

Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus…

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night I tiptoed up
To my daughter’s room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there…
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands.


Date: 1961

By: Amiri Baraka (Everett LeRoi Jones/Imamu Amear Baraka) (1934-2014)

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Song of the Great Wind by Liu Bang

A great wind came forth,
the clouds rose on high.
Now that my might rules all within the seas,
I have returned to my old village.
Where will I find brave men
to guard the four corners of my land?

From: Minford, John and Lau, Joseph S. M. (eds.), An Anthology of Translations. Volume I: From Antiquity to the Tang Dynasty, 2002, Columbia University Press: New York and The Chinese University Press: Hong Kong, p. 415.

Date: 196 BCE (original); 1961 (translation)

By: Liu Bang (256-195 BCE)

Translated by: Burton Dewitt Watson (1925-2017)

Monday, 13 February 2017

Babi Yar by Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!


Date: 1961 (original in Russian); 1996 (translation in English)

By: Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko (1933- )

Translated by: Benjamin Okopnik (19??- )

Note: Babi Yar is a ravine near Kiev. It was the scene of what is considered the largest shooting massacre of the Holocaust. Despite the majority of the victims of the massacre being Jewish, the Soviet Union authorities refused to see the massacre as part of the Holocaust, instead describing it as a crime against the Soviet people by Hitler’s forces.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Warning by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


Date: 1961

By: Jenny Joseph (1932- )

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Happy Family by John Anthony Ciardi

Before the children say goodnight,
Mother, Father, stop and think:
Have you screwed their heads on tight?
Have you washed their ears with ink?

Have you said and done and thought
All the earnest parents should?
Have you beaten them as you ought:
Have you begged them to be good?

And above all – when you start
Out the door and douse the light –
Think, be certain, search your heart:
Have you screwed their heads on tight?

If they sneeze when they’re asleep,
Will their little heads come off?
If they just breathe very deep?
If – especially – they cough?

Should – alas! – the little dears
Lose a little head or two,
Have you inked their little ears:
Girls’ ears pink and boys’ ears blue?

Children’s heads are very loose.
Mother, Father, screw them tight.
If you feel uncertain use
A monkey wrench, but do it right.

If a head should come unscrewed
You will know that you have failed.
Doubtful cases should be glued.
Stubborn cases should be nailed.

Then when all your darlings go
Sweetly screaming off to bed,
Mother, Father, you may know
Angels guard each little head.

Come the morning you will find
One by one each little head
Fill of gentle thoughts and kind,
Sweetly screaming to be fed.


Date: 1961

By: John Anthony Ciardi (1916-1986)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Derelict Church by Francis Webb

When earth and flint rear themselves into certain shapes
There is prayer from the fiery centre of the earth:
That grey dancer the belfry vaulting as the Host,
Arches as mouths importunate.
Dun smoking flames come leisurely home to roost,
The lost mind slews to an enigmatic path
Joining hands again, the errant spirit leaps
Into fire of joy at this grimy Fishergate.

Over the river’s dank effluvia
Hang like launches the oozing sunsets, palls
Of light close dully. Enter the crippled church
To pray with a near-pride:
Cases are piled in the transept and the porch
Yet peace loiters here as not in cathedrals
While with advertisement and trivia
Man is beseiging Heaven for his trade.

The Cross slopes down to jackboot and grimy truck;
Bones of the dead are indifferent to our debris
Grating above them; the devouring sin and pain
Still come to burial;
The immemorial Shape is persistent as rain.
Ghosts of bells chatter as from the sea
Out of memory slides home this gaping wreck
Still seaworthy, hallowed and functional.


Date: 1961

By: Francis Webb (1925-1973)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Heavy Women by Sylvia Plath

Irrefutable, beautifully smug
As Venus, pedestalled on a half-shell
Shawled in blond hair and the salt
Scrim of a sea breeze, the women
Settle in their belling dresses.
Over each weighty stomach a face
Floats calm as a moon or a cloud.

Smiling to themselves, they meditate
Devoutly as the Dutch bulb
Forming its twenty petals.
The dark still nurses its secret.
On the green hill, under the thorn trees,
They listen for the millennium,
The knock of the small, new heart.

Pink-buttoned infants attend them.
Looping wool, doing nothing in particular,
They step among the archetypes.
Dusk hoods them in Mary-blue
While far off, the axle of winter
Grinds round, bearing down the straw,
The star, the wise grey men. 


Date: 1961

By: Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)