Posts tagged ‘1968’

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- )

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Il Cantilena [The Chant] by Pietru Caxaro

A recital of my misfortunes, O my neighbours, the following I shall tell you,
Such as has not been found either in the past or in your lifetime.
An ungoverned, kingless, and lordless heart
Has thrown me into a deep well without a way up,
Into which, desiring death by drowning, I descend by the steps of my downfall,
Rising and falling always in the deep water.

My house, it has fallen down, I have long been a-building.
The workmen were not to blame, but it was the loose clay that gave way.
I found loose clay where I had hoped to find rock;
My house! It has fallen down!

My house! It has pushed down its foundations.
The workmen were not to blame, but the rock gave way.
I found loose clay where I had hoped to find rock;
The house I had long been a-building has collapsed!
And that’s how my house fell down! Build it up again!
Change for it the place that harms it.
He who changes neighbourhood changes his fortune;
For there is a difference in every span of land:
Some there is which is white, some black, some red.
More than this. There should you … …

From: Wettinger, G. and Fsadni, M., Peter Caxaro’s Cantilena. A Poem in Medieval Maltese, 1968, Lux Press: Malta, p. 38.

Date: c1470 (original in Maltese) 1968 (translation in English)

By: Pietru Caxaro (c1400-1485)

Translated by: Godfrey Wettinger (1929-2015) and Mikiel Fsadni (1916-2013)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

My Mother Would Be a Falconress by Robert Duncan

My mother would be a falconress,
And I, her gay falcon treading her wrist,
would fly to bring back
from the blue of the sky to her, bleeding, a prize,
where I dream in my little hood with many bells
jangling when I’d turn my head.

My mother would be a falconress,
and she sends me as far as her will goes.
She lets me ride to the end of her curb
where I fall back in anguish.
I dread that she will cast me away,
for I fall, I mis-take, I fail in her mission.

She would bring down the little birds.
And I would bring down the little birds.
When will she let me bring down the little birds,
pierced from their flight with their necks broken,
their heads like flowers limp from the stem?

I tread my mother’s wrist and would draw blood.
Behind the little hood my eyes are hooded.
I have gone back into my hooded silence,
talking to myself and dropping off to sleep.

For she has muffled my dreams in the hood she has made me,
sewn round with bells, jangling when I move.
She rides with her little falcon upon her wrist.
She uses a barb that brings me to cower.
She sends me abroad to try my wings
and I come back to her. I would bring down
the little birds to her
I may not tear into, I must bring back perfectly.

I tear at her wrist with my beak to draw blood,
and her eye holds me, anguisht, terrifying.
She draws a limit to my flight.
Never beyond my sight, she says.
She trains me to fetch and to limit myself in fetching.
She rewards me with meat for my dinner.
But I must never eat what she sends me to bring her.

Yet it would have been beautiful, if she would have carried me,
always, in a little hood with the bells ringing,
at her wrist, and her riding
to the great falcon hunt, and me
flying up to the curb of my heart from her heart
to bring down the skylark from the blue to her feet,
straining, and then released for the flight.

My mother would be a falconress,
and I her gerfalcon raised at her will,
from her wrist sent flying, as if I were her own
pride, as if her pride
knew no limits, as if her mind
sought in me flight beyond the horizon.

Ah, but high, high in the air I flew.
And far, far beyond the curb of her will,
were the blue hills where the falcons nest.
And then I saw west to the dying sun–
it seemd my human soul went down in flames.

I tore at her wrist, at the hold she had for me,
until the blood ran hot and I heard her cry out,
far, far beyond the curb of her will

to horizons of stars beyond the ringing hills of the world where
the falcons nest
I saw, and I tore at her wrist with my savage beak.
I flew, as if sight flew from the anguish in her eye beyond her sight,
sent from my striking loose, from the cruel strike at her wrist,
striking out from the blood to be free of her.

My mother would be a falconress,
and even now, years after this,
when the wounds I left her had surely heald,
and the woman is dead,
her fierce eyes closed, and if her heart
were broken, it is stilld

I would be a falcon and go free.
I tread her wrist and wear the hood,
talking to myself, and would draw blood.


Date: 1968

By: Robert Duncan (1919-1988)

Thursday, 29 May 2014

You Were My Death by Paul Celan (Anczel)

You were my death:
you I could hold
when all fell away from me.


Date: 1968 (original); 1972 (translated)

By: Paul Celan (Anczel) (1920-1970)

Translated by: Michael Peter Leopold Hamburger (1924-2007) and Christopher Middleton (1926- )

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Why? (The King of Love is Dead) by Calvin Eugene “Gene” Taylor

Once upon this planet Earth,
Lived a man of humble birth,
Preaching love and freedom for his fellow man,
He was dreaming of a day,
Peace would come to earth to stay,
And he spread this message all across the land.
Turn the other cheek he’d plead,
Love thy neighbour was his creed,
Pain, humiliation, death, he did not dread
With his Bible at his side,
From his foes he did not hide,
It’s hard to think that this great man is dead.

Will the murders never cease?
Are they men or are they beasts?
What do they ever hope, ever hope to gain?
Will my country fall, stand or fall?
Is it too late for us all?
And did Martin Luther King just die in vain?

‘Cause he’d seen the mountain top,
And he knew he could not stop,
Always living with the threat of death ahead.
Folks, you’d better stop and think
‘Cause we’re heading for the brink.
What will happen now that he is dead?

He was for equality,
For all people, you and me,
Full of love and good will, hate was not his way.
He was not a violent man.
Bigotry had sealed his fate
We can all shed tears; but it won’t change a thing
Teach your people: Will they ever learn?
Must you always kill with burn, and burn with guns
And kill with guns and burn – don’t you know how we’ve got to react?
But you know what it will bring.

But he had seen the mountaintop,
And he knew he could not stop,
Always living with the threat of death ahead.
Folks, you’d better stop and think,
Everybody knows we’re on the brink.
What will happen now that the king is dead?

He would say he had seen the mountain top
And he knew he could not stop,
Always living with the threat of death ahead.
Folks, you’d better stop and think and feel again
How we’re headed for the brink.

What’s going to happen now in all of our cities?
My people are rising; they’re living in lies,
Even if they have to die;
Even if they have to die at the moment that they know what life is;
Even at that one moment, that you know what life is;
If you have to die, it’s all right,
‘Cause you know what life is.
You know what freedom is, for one moment of your life.
What’s going to happen now that the King of Love is dead?

But he had seen the mountaintop,
And he knew he could not stop,
Always living with the threat of death ahead.
Folks, you’d better stop and think,
For we’re almost to the brink.
What will happen now that the King of Love is dead?

From: (transcribed by flusteredduck without Nina Simone’s monlogues)

Date: 1968

By: Calvin Eugene “Gene” Taylor (1929-2001)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Camera by Sanford Weiss

It is an opening, a
folding outwards whereby
the iris will draw up
light, encompassing a field

of cyclamen in September
and when the box is flushed
with light, cleansed
with a sweet light

the field is already
darker than we could imagine
and a white deer stands


Date: 1968

By: Sanford Weiss (?- )

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Poem by Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.


Date: 1968

By: Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Morning’s News by Wendell Berry

To moralize the state, they drag out a man,
and bind his hands, and darken his eyes
with a black rag to be free of the light in them,
and tie him to a post, and kill him.
And I am sickened by the complicity in my race.
To kill in hot savagery like a beast
is understandable.  It is forgivable and curable.
But to kill by design, deliberately, without wrath,
that is the sullen labor that perfects Hell.
The serpent is gentle, compared to man.
It is man, the inventor of cold violence,
death as waste, who has made himself lonely
among the creatures, and set himself aside,
so that he cannot work in the sun with hope,
or sit at peace in the shade of any tree.
The morning’s news drives sleep out of the head
at night.  Uselessness and horror hold the eyes
open to the dark.  Weary, we lie awake
in the agony of the old giving birth to the new
without assurance that the new will be better.
I look at my son, whose eyes are like a young god’s,
they are so open to the world.
I look at my sloping fields now turning
green with the young grass of April. What must I do
to go free?  I think I must put on
a deathlier knowledge, and prepare to die
rather than enter into the design of man’s hate.
I will purge my mind of the airy claims
of church and state.  I will serve the earth
and not pretend my life could better serve.
Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news.  Though the river floods
And the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer’s garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.

From: Impastato, David (ed), Upholding Mystery. An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry, 1997, Oxford University Press: New York, pp. 87-88.

Date: 1968

By: Wendell Berry (1934- )

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Boxer by Paul Simon

I am just a poor boy,
Though my story’s seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jest
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

When I left my home
And my family,
I was no more than a boy,
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of a railway station,
Running scared,
Laying low,
Seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know.

Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue.
I do declare,
There were times when I was so lonesome,
I took some comfort there.

Now the years are rolling by me
They are rocking evenly
I am older than I once was
And younger than I’ll be and that’s not unusual.
No, it isn’t strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same.

Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone,
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren’t bleeding me.
Leading me,
Going home.

In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down,
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving.”
But the fighter still remains.


Date: 1968

By: Paul Simon (1941- )

Monday, 16 January 2012

Dog’s Death by John Updike

She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.
Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn
To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor
And to win, wetting there, the words, “Good dog!  Good dog!”

We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction.
The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.
As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin
And her heart was learning to lie down forever.

Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed
And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest’s bed.
We found her twisted and limp but still alive.
In the car to the vet’s, on my lap, she tried

To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.

Back home, we found that in the night her frame,
Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there.  Good dog.


Date: 1968

By: John Updike (1932-2009)