Posts tagged ‘1997’

Monday, 17 January 2022

A Guide to Refreshing Sleep by Ron Koertge

It is best to remember those nights
when grown-ups were singing and breaking
glass and someone who smelled good
carried you up hushed stairs toward strange
cold bedrooms to be launched on a dark
lake of coats.

If Memory does not suffice, you may
summon the obvious mascots of sleep,
but forego counting. It is miserly. They
will come and stand by your bed, nodding
their graceful Egyptian heads, inviting you

across the crooked stile to one of those
hamlets nestled between blue hills
where the curious are curious about sleep,
the enthralled are enthralled with sleep,
and the great conclusion is always,
‘It’s time for bed.’

Look — a cottage door stands open. On the night
table is a single candle, yellow sheets are turned
back, and in the garden are marshaled
the best dreams in the world. Lie down.
The horrible opera of the day is over.
Close your eyes, so the world which loves you
can go to sleep, too.


Date: 1997

By: Ron Koertge (1940- )

Friday, 5 February 2021

Challenge (to M.D.) by Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher

Though stripped of armor, still I have the courage and belief
To throw the gauntlet at the thief
Who, with seeming virtue, my arms from me extorted,
Which willingly I would have him accorded
And granted him, and had I the secret to him disclosed
So he would to honor’d glory be exposed.
But how! a captain, how! a Christian—leader—and grandee,
Does he not return borrowed property,
Naively loaned, which he obtained with flattering implorations
Much like Delilah’s provocations?
Know that my powers don’t rely on gentle coaxing of the ears,
But on the sting of slender spears;
I bend those to my ways; and thus do I take my retaliation
Rather than with wheedling speech make supplication;
And so I declare war on him who ruptures halcyon days,
Who acts not according to what he says.
By etching steel that can cut crystal’s edge,
Can break glass goblets, I do take this pledge:
That you’ll give back to me what you from me did plunder,
Ce qui n’est point mon Coeur2.

1. Tesselschade wrote this playful letter to a captain (a certain M.D.) who, in the course of a flirtation, filched from her some intimate possession, perhaps a brooch. She plays with the imagery of the duel: the captain took her “armor,” she can fight back with “steel.” The reference here is to the steel needle used in the art of glass engraving, for which Tesselschade was famour. In this declaration of “war” she demands that the brooch be returned to her and insists that, in any case, it is not an emblem of her heart. Thus she delicately points out—in French—that she is not in love with the gentleman.
2. Which is not my heart.

From: Meijer, Maaike; Eijsker, Erica; Peypers, Ankie; and Prins, Yopie (eds.), Dutch and Flemish Feminist Poems From the Middle Ages to the Present: A Bilingual Anthology, 1998, The Feminist Press at the City University: New York, pp. 57-59.

Date: c1620 (original in Dutch); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher (1594-1649)

Translated by: Marjolijn de Jager (1936- )

Saturday, 26 September 2020

At the Musée Rodin in Paris by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

in front of a window
facing south, two white
marble hands fold
around air.
A label on the pedestal reads
Le Secret.
Did Rodin also sculpt
the air between those hands?
Is it caught there ever since:
the mold of secrecy?
I waited hours for the sun
to flow through them.

All it did was cast
a shadow to the ground.


Date: 1997

By: Laure-Anne Bosselaar (1943- )

Thursday, 20 August 2020

My Sweet Dear by Clément Marot

My sweet dear,
I send cheer —
All the best!
Your forced rest
Is like jail.
So don’t ail
Very long.
Just get strong —
Go outside,
Take a ride!
Do it quick,
Stay not sick —
Ban your ache,
For my sake!
Buttered bread
While in bed
Makes a mess,
So unless
You would choose
That bad news,
I suggest
That you’d best
Soon arise,
So your eyes
Will not glaze.
Douglas prays
Health be near,
My sweet dear.


Date: 1537 (original in French); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Clément Marot (1496-1544)

Translated by: Douglas Richard Hofstadter (1945- )

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Song by Jacques Prévert

What day are we?
We are every day
My friend
We’re the whole of life
My love
We love and we live
We live and we love
And we don’t really know
What life is
And we don’t really know
What the day is
And we don’t really know
What love is


Date: 1949 (original in French); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Jacques Prévert (1900-1977)

Translated by: Alastair Campbell (19??- )

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Canto 1: Summer from Rtusamhāram (The Gathering of the Seasons) by Kālidasa

The sun blazing fiercely,
the moon longed for eagerly,
deep waters inviting
to plunge in continually,
days drawing to a close in quiet beauty,
the tide of desire running low:
scorching Summer is now here, my love.

Night’s indigo-masses rent by the moon,
wondrous mansions built on water,
cooled by fountains; various gems
cool to the touch; liquid sandal;
the world seeks relief in these
in Summer’s scorching heat, my love.

Palace-terraces perfumed, luring the senses,
wine trembling beneath the beloved’s breath,
sweet melodies on finely-tuned lutes:
lovers enjoy tese passion-kindling things
at midnight in Summer, my love.

Curving hips, their beauty enhanced
by fine silks and jewelled belts;
sandal-scented breasts caressed by necklaces of pearls,
fragrant tresses bathed in perfumed water:
with these women soothe their loves
in burning Summer, my love.

Swaying hips; soles tinted deep rose;
anklets with tinkling bells
imitating at each step the cry of the wild goose:
men’s hearts are churned by desire.

Breasts rubbed smooth with liquid sandal,
crowned by strings of pearls lustrous as dewdrops,
hips encircled by golden belts—
whose heart will not yearn restless?

High-breasted women in the flush of youth,
limbs shining with beads of sweat, throw off
heavy garments and put on thin stoles
right for the season to cover their breasts.

The breeze of moist sandal-scented fans,
the touch of flower-garlands on the beloved’s breast,
the lute’s exquisite murmuring sound:
these now awaken sleeping Love.

Gazing all night longingly
on the faces of lovely women sleeping happy
on terraces of sparkling white mansions,
the moon pales at dawn struck by guilty shame.

Hearts burning in the fire of separation,
men far from home can scarcely bear to see
the swirling clouds of dust tossed up
from the earth burnt by the sun’s fierce heat.

Antelopes suffering from Summer’s savage heat,
race with parched throats towards the distant sky
the colour of smooth-blended collyrium, thinking:
—‘there’s water there in another forest.’

As enchanting twilights jewelled by the moon
instantly kindle desire in pleasure-seeker’s minds,
so do the graceful movements, subtle smiles
and wayward glances of amorous women.

In an agony of pain from the sun’s fierce rays,
scorched by dust on his path, a snake with drooping hood
creeps on his tortuous course, repeatedly hissing,
to find shelther under a peacock’s shade.

The king of beasts suffering intense thirst, pants
with wide open jaws, lolling tongue, quivering mane;
powerless to attack he does not kill
elephants though they are not beyond his reach.

Dry-throated, foaming at the mouth,
maddened by the sun’s sizzling rays,
tuskers in an agony of growing thirst,
seeking water, do not fear even the lion.

Peacocks, exhausted by the flame-rays of the sun
blazing like numerous sacrificial fires,
lack the will to strike at the hooded snake
thrusting its head under their circle of plumes.

By the hot sun tormented a herd of wild boars
rooting with the round tips of their long snouts
in the caked mud of ponds with swamp-grass overgrown,
appear as if descending deep into the earth.

Burning under the sun’s fiery wreath of rays,
a frog leaps up from the muddy pond
to sit under the parasol hood
of a deadly cobra that is thirsty and tired.

A whole host of fragile lotus plants uprotted,
fish lying dead, sarus cranes flown away in fear,
the lack is one thick mass of mire, pounded
by a packed elephant-herd pushing and shoving.

A cobra overcome by thirst darts his forked tongue out
to lick the breeze; the iridescence of his crest-jewel
flashes struck by brilliant sunbeams; burning
from Summer’s heat and his own fiery poison
he does not attack the assemblage of frogs.

A herd of female buffaloes frenzied by thirst
emerges from the hill’s caves, heads lifted up
sniffing for water, spittle overflowing from cavernous jaws
and frothing round their lips, pink tongus hanging out.

A raging forest fire burns tender shoots to a cinder;
cruel words hurl shrivelled leaves high up with impetuous force;
all around waters shrink to the bottom in the sizzling heat;
O what a scene of horror the woodland’s outskirts present!

Birds sit panting on trees shorn of leaves;
lean monkeys troop into caves overgrown with bushes;
wild bulls roam around looking for water;
elephant cubs diligently draw up water from a well.

Relentlessly driven by the force of violent winds,
the fire, brilliant as the vermilion petals
of the mallow rose unfolding,
speeds in every direction, smitten with longing to clasp
the tops of trees, bushes and creepers, and burns the earth.

Springing up at the skirts of the woodland,
the fire’s glare tires the creatures of the woodland;
it blazes in the glens fanned by the winds,
crackles and bursts through dry bamboo thickets
and spreads in the grass, waxing each moment.

Incited by the winds, the wild fire roams
all around the woodland, seeking to assume
multiple forms in the bright silk-cotton groves;
it glitters, burnished gold, in the hollows of trees
and springs up tall trees, to branches whose leaves are singed.

With their bodies burning in the fire’s fierce heat,
elephants, wild bulls, lions, lay aside their enmity,
and come quickly out of grasslands scorched by fire, together,
like friends, to rest on the river’s wide, sandy banks.

O lady, whose singing flows so sweet
in the night over moonlit terraces,
may Summer waited upon by lovely women,
when pools are strewn thick with lotuses
and the air scented by pāṭala flowers,
when waters are pleasant to laze in
and garlands of pearls cool with their touch,
pass in greatest delight and ease for you.

From: Kālidasa and Rajan, Chandra (ed.), The Complete Works of Kālidasa: In three volumes, Volume 1, 2005, Sahitya Akademi:  New Delhi, pp. 77-82.

Date: c4th-5th century BCE (original in Sanskrit); 1997 (translanted in English)

By: Kālidasa (c4th-5th century BCE)

Translated by: Chandra Rajan (19??- )

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Sailing into the South Lake by Chan Fang-sheng

P’eng-li* commands three rivers.
Mount Lu masters other hills.
White sand cleans the waterway.
Green pines cover hanging crags.
This water: since when, its flow?
This mountain: since when, its being?
Man’s fate changes from this to that!
These forms alone stay forever.
Within the distant reach of the cosmos,
Past, present, in order, first, last.

*Name of the lake now known as Po-yang Lake.

From: Yip, Wai-lim (ed. and transl.), Chinese Poetry: An Anthology of Major Modes and Genres, 2003, Duke University Press: Durham and London, p. 141.

Date: c400 (original); 1997 (translation)

By: Chan Fang-sheng (fl.400)

Translated by: Wai-lim Yip (1937- )

Thursday, 21 March 2019

American Avalon by Connie Deanovich

Frankenstein naps on a golden bed
covered by a floral quilt
handstitched as he is handstitched

He dreams of making a gigantic sandwich
the tense moment of triumph coming when finally
he gets both hands to work at once

He dreams of picnicking in a glistening meadow
recently cleaned by a biology class
dreams of riding there on top a glistening Harley

He sees himself this way or else
prone in black leather
glamorously handcuffed inside his electric dungeon

Tomorrow he’ll rise arms first from his golden bed
trying to piece together the images of his dreams
into an incontestable memory

When he stumbles toward you
will you slowly teach him your name
or will you quickly distribute fire?


Date: 1997

By: Connie Deanovich (1960- )

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Brilliant and Lovely Eyes by Veronica Gambara

Brilliant and lovely eyes
How can it be that in one single instant
You give birth to so many varied moods?

Happy and sad, exalted, humble, proud—
You shine forth in a flash, in which, with hope
And fear you fill me full,
And many other sweet effects—bitter and wild—
All come together in a heart on fire
With you, when you desire.

Now that you are both life and death to me,
O joyful eyes, O blessed eyes and dear,
Be evermore serene, happy and clear.

From: Stortoni, Laura Anna and Lillie, Mary Prentice (eds. and transls.), Women Poets of the Italian Renaissance: Courtly Ladies and Courtesans, 1997, Italica Press: New York, p. 33.

Date: c1530 (original in Italian); 1997 (translation in English)

By: Veronica Gambara (1485-1550)

Translated by: Laura Anna Stortoni (1942- ) and Mary Prentice Lillie Barrows (1906-1998)

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Misgivings by William Procter Matthews III

“Perhaps you’ll tire of me,” muses
my love, although she’s like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn’t tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can’t
control is what we could; those drab
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may auger we’re on our owns

for good reason. “Hi, honey,” chirps Dread
when I come through the door; “you’re home.”
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it’s far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let’s cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.


Date: 1997

By: William Procter Matthews III (1942-1997)