Posts tagged ‘1985’

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- )

Friday, 24 April 2020

The Meaning of War by Katherine Gallagher

(i.m. Robert Phelan)

I remember you, soldier-uncle
on your first leave.
1942. Your homecoming
had turned the house upside-down:
Just arrived from Milne Bay—1
no garlanded Hector arguing loud
against the waste, though we made you
our own hero for your lucky escapes.

At that stage, peace seemed further away
than forever: behind your eyes
was the pain of going back.
You tried jokes,
wagered your nine lives,
drew the mad, mad terror—
‘In the beginning, half the time
we bloody fought with axes.’

Fought with axes …
You were the first to teach me
the real meaning of war.

1. Milne Bay—Port in Paua New Guinea, from which the Japanese advance in the South Pacific was first halted in World War II.


Date: 1985

By: Katherine Gallagher (1935- )

Saturday, 29 December 2018

The Amorous Cannibal by Christopher Keith “Chris” Wallace-Crabbe

Suppose I were to eat you
I should probably begin
with the fingers, the cheeks and the breasts
yet all of you would tempt me,
so powerfully spicy
as to discompose my choice.

While I gobbled you up
delicacy by tidbit
I should lay the little bones
ever so gently round my plate
and caress the bigger bones
like ivory talismans.

When I had quite devoured the edible you
(your tongue informing my voice-box)
I would wake in the groin of night
to feel, ever so slowly,
your plangent, ravishing ghost
munching my fingers and toes.

Here, with an awkward, delicate gesture
someone slides out his heart
and offers it on a spoon,
garnished with adjectives.


Date: 1985

By: Christopher Keith “Chris” Wallace-Crabbe (1934- )

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Hill-Dwelling Cuckoo by Mibu no Tadamine

Hill-dwelling cuckoo
pouring forth his ceaseless song:
perhaps he thinks them
too short — summer nights ending
the moment they have begun.

From: McCullough, Helen Craig (ed. and transl.), Kokin Wakashū: The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry, 1985, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 44.

Date: c895 (original in Japanese); 1985 (translation in English)

By: Mibu no Tadamine (fl. 898-920)

Translated by: Helen Craig McCullough (1918-1998)

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Listen Mr Oxford Don by John Agard

Me not no Oxford don
me a simple immigrant
from Clapham Common
I didn’t graduate
I immigrate

But listen Mr Oxford don
I’m a man on de run
and a man on de run
is a dangerous one

I ent have no gun
I ent have no knife
but mugging de Queen’s English
is the story of my life

I don’t need no axe
to split/ up yu syntax
I don’t need no hammer
to mash/ up yu grammar

I warning you Mr. Oxford don
I’m a wanted man
and a wanted man
is a dangerous one

Dem accuse me of assault
on de Oxford dictionary/
imagine a concise peaceful man like me/
dem want me serve time
for inciting rhyme to riot
but I tekking it quiet
down here in Clapham Common

I’m not violent man Mr. Oxford don
I only armed wit mih human breath
but human breath
is a dangerous weapon

So mek dem send one big word after me
I ent serving no jail sentence
I slashing suffix in self-defence
I bashing future wit present tense
and if necessary

I making de Queen’s English accessory/ to my offence

From: Agard, John, “Listen Mr Oxford Don” in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, 2006 – Issue 2, p. 100.

Date: 1985

By: John Agard (1949- )

Monday, 26 February 2018

Love by Ariwara no Narihara

Composed during a drizzle and sent to a lady whom he had secretly been secretly wooing since early in the Third Month.

Having passed the night
neither waking nor sleeping,
I have spent the day
brooding and watching the rain—
the unending rain of spring.

From: Carter, Steven D. (ed.), Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology, 1991, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 79.

Date: 9th century (original in Japanese); 1985 (translation in English)

By: Ariwara no Narihara (825-880)

Translated by: Helen Craig McCullough (1918-1998)

Monday, 29 August 2016

Jiu Bian (Nine Changes): VI by Song Yu

Dew falls and the bitter frost follows to afflict me,
And my heart is distraught and will not be comforted.
Sleet and snow, thickly commingling, harder and harder come down,
And I know that the time is near when I must meet my end.
I wish that by some lucky chance I might be forgiven;
But I shall soon die, along with the moorland grasses.
I wish I could set off unbidden and fly straight to him,
But the road to him is blocked and impassable.
I wish I could follow the others’ route and ride the easy way,
But that, too, is no good: I do not known how to do it.
And so I stop midway in perplexity,
Grieving and hesitant; unable to turn back.
And though dull and stupid by nature and poor in talents,
I restrain myself and learn to mourn in verses.
Orchid and iris are mixed with worthless mugwort:
Truly I am not skilled to imitate their fashion.

From: Hawkes, David (translator and editor), The Songs of the South. An Anthology of Poems by Qu Yuan and Other Poets, 2011, Penguin: London, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 3rd century BCE (original); 1985 (translation)

By: Song Yu (c319-298 BCE)

Translated by: David Hawkes (1923-2009)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Lorelei Reformed by Agnes Louise Wathall Tatera

Don’t set your will to cross the stream, my love,
when I stand opposite and waiting.
The thinning, thicking mists swirl from my eyes.
My lips are traitor to my words, and baiting.

Our hands seem close enough to touch, my love,
but waves ride treacherous in the narrows
and if you trick a path from rock to rock
you’ll find them mossy stepping-stones to sorrows.

So kiss me only with your eyes, my love–
then turn your back on love’s confusion.
I take no dark delight in drownings, love:
my song is powerless, and my spell illusion.


Date: 1985

By: Agnes Louise Wathall Tatera (1907-2004)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Words of Delusion by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Three words doth man hear, with meaning full
In good and in best mouths extolling,
They sound off but idly, their ring is null,
They can not give any consoling.
And mankind doth forfeit this life’s own fruit,
As long as mere shadows are his pursuit.

As long as he trusts in the Golden Age,
Where the righteous, the good conquer evil—
The righteous, the good in battle e’er rage,
Ne’er will he vanquish the Devil,
And thou strangle him not in the air that’s blue,
E’er grows in him strength from the earth anew.

As long as he trusts, that a coquettish chance
Is with nobleness bound up in spirit—
The evil she trails with loving glance,
Not the earth, will the good man inherit.
He is a stranger, he goes to roam
And seeks an everlasting home.

As long as he trusts, that mere logic can grasp
The truth that is ever shining,
Then her veil lifts not any mere mortal clasp,
We’re left but supposing, divining.
Thou’d ’prison the soul in an empty sound,
But it wanders off in the storm unbound.

So, noble soul, from delusion tear thee,
And to heavenly trust be most faithful!
What no ear doth hear, what the eyes do not see,
It is this that’s the beaut’ous, the truthful!
It is not outside, there fools do implore,
It is in you, you bring it forth evermore.

From: of delusion

Date: 1797 (German original); 1985 (English translation)

By: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Translated by: Marianna Stapel Wertz (1948-2003)

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Light by Malay Roy Choudhury

I get a thud-kick in pitch dark thick on belly and tumble
Hands tied at the back on damp floor shack to humble
Lights flash on face eyes blind in case I spin
Then lights go off a boot or two rough on chin
I feel blood drips and snail down the lips in trickle
The glare blinks on and off and on and off in ripple
A hot metal rod scalds hard breast broad to snip flesh warm
The lights hem in piercing thin a ruthless swarm
Red eyes get shut in blinding rut my vision erode
Final blackout in grisly rout in elliptic node
I prepare my grit to encounter the hit as a fightback code.


Date: 19?? (Bengali); 1985 (English)

By: Malay Roy Choudhury (1939- )

Translated by: Malay Roy Choudhury (1939- )