Posts tagged ‘1981’

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Map of the New World by Derek Alton Walcott

Dragons once, with webbed hands, serrated fins,
circled this unknown sea. Their scales
flake now like scurf, their skins
aged with this wrinkled chart.
Where they were feared to rise was usually written:
IBI DRAGONES, there are dragons here,
in dragonish letters of mediaeval Latin.

They threshed the ocean’s pastures with hooked flails,
then, as new islands grew, dragons were gone,
reduced to symbols puffed up by the Trades,
a bellying escutcheon
to knot the Indian’s heart.

But in the light that lanced through abbey stone
pinning a shape to the map-maker’s chart
remained one dragon;
drowned in history
it rises in a mirror:
with webless hand, no fins, it can draw dragons.

‘Only in a world where there are cranes and horses’
wrote Robert Graves, ‘can poetry survive.’
Or adept goats on crags. Epic
follows the plough, metre the ring of the anvil,
order divines the figurations of storks, and awe,
the arc of the stallion’s neck.

The flame has left the black wick of the cypress,
the sun may light these islands in their turn.

Over grey islets
magnificent frigates inaugurate the dusk,
light flashes through the whisking tails of horses,
the stony fields they graze.
From the black anvil of the promontory
the sparks fly up like stars.

Regenerate ocean, turn the wanderer
from those salt sheets, the prodigal
drawn to the dark troughs of the swine-black porpoise.

Wrench his heart’s wheel and set his forehead here.


Date: 1981

By: Derek Alton Walcott (1930-2017)

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Mirabeau Bridge by Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki)

Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
After each sorrow joy came back again

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Hands joined and face to face let’s stay just so
While underneath
The bridge of our arms shall go
Eternal gazes in their weary flow

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

All love goes by as water to the sea
All love goes by
How slow life seems to me
How violent the hope of love can be

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

The days the weeks pass by beyond our ken
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay


Date: 1912 (original in French); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki) (1880-1918)

Translated by: Richard Purdy Wilbur (1921-2017)

Friday, 14 May 2021

Small Elegy by Reginald Gibbons

Someone has left us now
before we have even touched hands.

Getting lost in the pity of it
sweeps you into an unknown stretch
of canyon where oars thud
against rock and rip free, you clutch
at help, and even though
you save yourself, the river
funnels through the gorge
and roars, roars, roars.
Regret, a backwash of pain,
one lost life swirls down rapids,
rushes away, out of reach.

It’s not forgetting that you want —
it would be easy to drop
one shoulder and dive, to come up
gasping in a car on the way to work
or blue in the face over the dishpan
staring for who knows how long
at a cup scoured clean under the suds.
And not remembering.

But the absence that is born
must live as long as a man or a woman.
There: it comes invisible headfirst,
a bloodstreaked nothing, and is flushed away.
While in the white room the dry light
is cold; and waiting to be taken home
mute ghosts lie in a row of empty cribs.


Date; 1981

By: Reginald Gibbons (1947- )

Monday, 11 January 2021

The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Rushin

I’ve had enough
I’m sick of seeing and touching
Both sides of things
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Can talk to anybody
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

I’ve got the explain myself
To everybody

I do more translating
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world
Find something else to make you legitimate
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood
Your manhood
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self

Forget it
Stretch or drown
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be
Is the bridge to my own power
I must translate
My own fears
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere
But my true self
And then
I will be useful.


Date: 1981

By: Donna Kate Rushin (1951- )

Monday, 31 August 2020

Pay Up or Else by Luci Tapahonso

Vincent Watchman was shot
in the head February 12
because he owed 97c at
a Thriftway gas station.
While he lay dead,
the anglo gas boy said
I only meant to shoot out
his car tires and scare him.
He fired 2 poor shots – one in the head,
one in the rear window and
the police cited him for
shooting a firearm within city limits.

Meanwhile, Thriftway officials in Farmington
expressed shock
It’s not company policy, after all,
to shoot Navajo customers who run
overflows in the self-serve pumps.
This man will definitely be fired.

There is no way that such an action
can be justified, the official said

while we realized our lives weren’t worth a dollar
and a 24-year-old Ganado man never used
the $3 worth of gas he paid for.


Date: 1981

By: Luci Tapahonso (1953- )

Sunday, 7 April 2019

MSY I:16 [Spring Flowers versus Autumn Leaves] by Nukata no Ōkimi

Buried by winter,
When spring comes to pass,
The silent
Birds burst into song;
The bloomless
Flowers burst out, but
The mountains are so lush,
One cannot make one’s way;
The grasses are so thick,
An outstretched hand is lost;
On an autumn mountain,
One sees trees’ leaves:
The yellow leaves,
To take for a keepsake;
Green ones
To leave behind in sorrow,
Though I hate to do it:
For my part, the mountains of autumn.


Date: 7th century (original in Japanese); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Nukata no Ōkimi (c630-690)

Translated by: Ian Hideo Levy (1950- )

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The Sun by Yehuda Alharizi

Look: the sun has spread its wings
over the earth to dispel the darkness.

Like a great tree, with its roots in heaven,
and its branches reaching down to the earth.


Date: c1219 (original in Hebrew); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Yehuda Alharizi (1165-1225)

Translated by: T. Carmi (Carmi Charney) (1925-1994)

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Man’yōshū VIII: 1427 by Yamabe no Akahito

From the morrow
Would I pick new herbs
But in my marked out fields
Both yesterday and today
The snow has kept on falling.


Date: c730 (original in Japanese); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Yamabe no Akahito (fl. 724-736)

Translated by: Ian Hideo Levy (1950- )

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Ale’s Stones by Anders Österling

Where the coast falls between the sea and sky,
Ale has raised a giant ship of stone,
Fair in its setting, when bright ears of rye
To union with the block’s dark quiet have grown,
A saga put ashore
Beside the Baltic’s roar,
A mark with sense known to the sea alone.

In tight formation, these grey masses rise
On guard since ancient times: a haunted hill,
The story goes – where clash of arms and cries
(As from a camp) the autumn darkness fill.
In midst of farmer’s land,
Here Ale took command
On board death’s ship, the last to mind his will.

Great strength still keeps this hummock in its hold.
Iron bit on bronze, when these bold deeds were done.
The sea-kings’ vessel, gone aground in mold,
Sails on its voyage to oblivion.
With stone its prow is stayed,
Of cloud its sails are made,
Yet it’s kin to all free ships beneath the sun.

A brig slips, soundless on the misty blue,
Around the corner of the nearest stone,
Bound for the Skagerrak and Dover, it will do
A measured minute while this place sleeps on;
Yet none knows how to say
What in this silent play
Is passing now, and what to past has gone.

Glittering waves both ship and grave embrace,
A thousand years, a thousand miles go by,
And time exchanges its salutes with space,
And sails are swelled and stones in slumber lie,
And the meadow casts its bloom
Around the age-old tomb,
And larks sing out, and Skåne’s summers fly.

From: Schoolfield, George C., “Anders Österling: A Life for Literature” in World Literature Today, Vol. 55. No. 2, A Look at Chinese and African Letters (Spring, 1981), p. 243.

Date: 1933 (original in Swedish); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Anders Österling (1884-1981)

Translated by: George C. Schoolfield (1925- )

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Wall by Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson

The wall walks the fell –
Grey millipede on slow
Stone hooves;
Its slack back hollowed
At gulleys and grooves,
Or shouldering over
Old boulders
Too big to be rolled away.
Fallen fragments
Of the high crags
Crawl in the walk of the wall.

A dry-stone wall
Is a wall and a wall,
Leaning together
Champion wrestlers),
Greening and weathering,
Flank by flank,
With filling of rubble
Between the two –
A double-rank
Stone dyke:
Flags and through-
stones jutting out sideways,
Like the steps of a stile.

A wall walks slowly,
At each give of the ground,
Each creak of the rock’s ribs,
It puts its foot gingerly,
Arches its hog-holes,
Lets cobble and knee-joint
Settle and grip.
As the slipping fellside
Erodes and drifts,
The wall shifts with it,
Is always on the move.

They built a wall slowly,
A day a week;
Built it to stand.
But not stand still.
They built a wall to walk.


Date: 1981

By: Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson (1914-1987)