Posts tagged ‘1968’

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Dreaming Winter by James Phillip Welch, Junior

Don’t ask me if these knives are real.
I could paint a king or show a map
the way home—to go like this:
wobble me back to a tiger’s dream,
a dream of knives and bones too common
to be exposed. My secrets are ignored.

Here comes the main I love. His coat is wet
and his face is falling like the leaves,
tobacco stains on his Polish teeth.
I could tell jokes about him—one up
for the man who brags a lot, laughs
a little and hangs his name on the nearest knob.
Don’t ask me. I know it’s only hunger.

I saw that king—the one my sister knew
but was allergic to. Her face ran until
his eyes became the white of several winters.
Snow on his bed told him that the silky tears
were uniformly mad and all the money in the world
couldn’t bring him to a tragic end. Shame
or fortune tricked me to his table, shattered
my one standing lie with new kinds of fame.

Have mercy on me, Lord. Really. If I should die
before I wake, take me to that place I just heard
banging in my ears. Don’t ask me. Let me join
the other kings, the ones who trade their knives
for a sack of keys. Let me open any door,
stand winter still and drown in a common dream.

From: Welch, James, “Dreaming Winter” in Poetry, Vol. 112, No. 1, April 1968, p. 16.

Date: 1968

By: James Phillip Welch, Junior (1940-2003)

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

This Age Has Brought by Maxwell Henley Harris

this age has brought me twenty years,
till the heart must say ‘regret’,
be young no more, forget
the gentle thrilling and the unknown fears.

we are young no more, and it is age
has visited the unswept house,
mother unprepared, her apron loose
about her. Now we must wage

the battle with this exploiter, profiteer,
place in the teapot the high rents
for a voice that persists, never relents
in its fading and its heavy coming near

as a shortwave radio. The strain
is that of death betrayed;
for we cannot be afraid
who may not love nor die again.

From: Harris, Max and Brissenden, Alan, The Angry Penguin: Selected Poems of Max Harris, 1996, National Library of Australia: Canberra, p. 8.

Date: 1968

By: Maxwell Henley Harris (1921-1995)

Monday, 30 December 2019

What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Reflections of an African-American Mother) by (Victoria) Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs


What shall I tell my children who are black
Of what it means to be a captive in this dark skin
What shall I tell my dear one, fruit of my womb,
Of how beautiful they are when everywhere they turn
They are faced with abhorrence of everything that is black.
Villains are black with black hearts.
A black cow gives no milk. A black hen lays no eggs.
Bad news comes bordered in black, black is evil
And evil is black and devils’ food is black…

What shall I tell my dear ones raised in a white world
A place where white has been made to represent
All that is good and pure and fine and decent.
Where clouds are white, and dolls, and heaven
Surely is a white, white place with angels
Robed in white, and cotton candy and ice cream
and milk and ruffled Sunday dresses
And dream houses and long sleek cadillacs
And angel’s food is white…all, all…white.

What can I say therefore, when my child
Comes home in tears because a playmate
Has called him black, big lipped, flatnosed
and nappy headed? What will he think
When I dry his tears and whisper, “Yes, that’s true.
But no less beautiful and dear.”
How shall I lift up his head, get him to square
His shoulders, look his adversaries in the eye,
Confident of the knowledge of his worth,
Serene under his sable skin and proud of his own beauty?

What can I do to give him strength
That he may come through life’s adversities
As a whole human being unwarped and human in a world
Of biased laws and inhuman practices, that he might
Survive. And survive he must! For who knows?
Perhaps this black child here bears the genius
To discover the cure for…Cancer
Or to chart the course for exploration of the universe.
So, he must survive for the good of all humanity.
He must and will survive.
I have drunk deeply of late from the foundation
Of my black culture, sat at the knee and learned
From Mother Africa, discovered the truth of my heritage,
The truth, so often obscured and omitted.
And I find I have much to say to my black children.

I will lift up their heads in proud blackness
With the story of their fathers and their fathers
Fathers. And I shall take them into a way back time
of Kings and Queens who ruled the Nile,
And measured the stars and discovered the
Laws of mathematics. Upon whose backs have been built
The wealth of continents. I will tell him
This and more. And his heritage shall be his weapon
And his armor; will make him strong enough to win
Any battle he may face. And since this story is
Often obscured, I must sacrifice to find it
For my children, even as I sacrificed to feed,
Clothe and shelter them. So this I will do for them
If I love them. None will do it for me.
I must find the truth of heritage for myself
And pass it on to them. In years to come I believe
Because I have armed them with the truth, my children
And my children’s children will venerate me.
For it is the truth that will make us free!


Date: 1968

From: (Victoria) Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs (1915-2010)

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Summer Tree by Edith Marion Marcombe Shiffert

Since winter ended for this tree, new leaves
filled all the branches, grew, could not restrain
themselves from coming. They will wilt and drop,
be nothing, but for summer they show green.

Light shines all around them. They do not
feel its warmth or shape. They wear the glow
belonging to the season while they grow.
They wear the light, and that is what they are.

The rustle and the texture of the leaves,
the way they look, their smell and taste, do not
concern them on their stems and twigs. Each moves
as air moves, and when winter comes it falls.

Grow is not a word to lightly say.
The tree is there. It uses what it is.
Underground the roots expand. In air
branches rise and spread. The tree is there.


Date: 1968

By: Edith Marion Marcombe Shiffert (1916-2017)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Death is Before Me Today by Anonymous

Death is before me today
like health to the sick
like leaving the bedroom after sickness.

Death is before me today
like the odor of myrrh
like sitting under a cloth on a day of wind.

Death is before me today
like the odor of lotus
like sitting down on the shore of drunkenness.

Death is before me today
like the end of the rain
like a man’s home-coming after the wars abroad.

Death is before me today
like the sky when it clears
like a man’s wish to see home after numberless years of captivity.

From: Washburn, Katharine and Major, John S. (eds.), World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time, 1998, W. W. Norton & Company: New York and London, p. 16.

Date: c1900 BCE (original in Egyptian); 1968 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: William Stanley Merwin (1927-2019)

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

A Glimpse of Starlings by Brendan Kennelly

I expect him any minute now although
He’s dead. I know he has been talking
All night to his own dead and now
In the first heart-breaking light of morning
He is struggling into his clothes,
Sipping a cup of tea, fingering a bit of bread,
Eating a small photograph with his eyes.

The questions bang and rattle in his head
Like doors and canisters the night of a storm.
He doesn’t know why his days finished like this
Daylight is as hard to swallow as food
Love is a crumb all of him hungers for.
I can hear the drag of his feet on the concrete path.
The close explosion of his smoker’s cough
The slow turn of the Yale key in the lock
The door opening to let him in
To what looks like release from what feels like pain.
And over his shoulder a glimpse of starlings
Suddenly lifted over field, road and river
Like a fist of black dust pitched in the wind.

From: Powling, Anne, O’Connor, John and Barton, Geoff (eds.), New Oxford English, Book 3, 1997, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 44.

Date: 1968

By: Brendan Kennelly (1936- )

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Cell Song by Etheridge Knight

Night Music Slanted
Light strike the cave of sleep. I alone
tread the red circle
and twist the space with speech

Come now, etheridge, don’t
be a savior; take your words and scrape
the sky, shake rain

on the desert, sprinkle
salt on the tail
of a girl,

can there anything
good come out of


Date: 1968

By: Etheridge Knight (1931-1991)

Sunday, 17 June 2018

On Seeing a Dead Man When Crossing the Pass of Ashigara by Tanabe no Sakimaro

Your loving wife
No doubt spread out and bleached the threads
For your white hempen robe
Upon the brushwood fence that stood about
Your modern eastern home.
Perhaps she wove that robe for you to wear
In your labors for the court.
You must have toiled long, not stopping to untie
Your hempen belt for sleep,
But winding it more tightly round your waist
Girded yourself not once but thrice.
And then at last you earned a few brief days,
Time to set out for your home,
Thinking to see your parents and your wife.
At last you reached the east—
Land of crowing cocks—you reached this pass,
Awesome abode of gods.

But in such rugged mountains
Your softly woven robe
Could not have kept your wasted body warm;
For you look cold,
With your hair as lustrous black
As jewels of jet
Lying loose and tangled round about you.
Though I speak to you
To ask about your native land,
You do not reply;
And though I ask you of your home,
You do not speak,
But lie outstretched, courageous man,
Asleep forever on your journey home.

From: Miner, Earl, An Introduction to Japanese Court Poetry, 1968, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 57.

Date: c740 (original in Japanese); 1968 (translation in English)

By: Tanabe no Sakimaro (fl. 740s)

Translated by: Earl Roy Miner (1927-2004)

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)