Posts tagged ‘1999’

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Song 1 of “Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute” by Cai Yan

In the early part of my life, equity still governed the empire,
But later in my life the Han throne fell into decay.
Heaven was not humane, sending down rebellion and chaos,
Earth was not humane, causing me to encounter such a time.
War gear was a daily commonplace, and travel by road was dangerous,
The common people fled, all plunged in wretchedness.
Smoke and dust darkened the countryside, overrun by barbarians;
They knocked aside my widow’s vows, and my chastity was lost.
Their strange customs were so utterly foreign to me—
Whom can I possibly tell of my calamity, shame, and grief?
One measure for the nomad flute, one stanza for the qin,
No one can know my heart’s agony and anger!

From: Chang, Kang-i Sun and Saussy, Haun (eds.), Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism, Stanford University Press: Stanford, p. 23.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=xRNnU-SpDyYC)

Date: 2nd century (original), 1999 (translation)

By: Cai Yan (c178-c249)

Translated by: Dore Jesse Levy (19??- )

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Needlework by Michael Donaghy

tattoos commissioned for the
1999 ‘Last Words’ poetry festival, Salisbury

i.
Copy this across your heart,
Whisper what your eyes have heard,
To summon me when we’re apart,
This word made flesh, this flesh made word.

ii.
The serpent sheds her skin and yet
The pattern she’d as soon forget
Recalls itself. By this I swear
I am the sentence that I bare.

From: Donaghy, Michael, Conjure, 2000, Picador: London, p. [unnumbered].
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=A1taDwAAQBAJ)

Date: 1999

By: Michael Donaghy (1954-2004)

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Unto One of the Least of These by Stanley Miller Williams

With no one to talk to, he talked to the five fish
in a pond in the side yard in the shade of an oak—
Owen, Trudy, Trevor, Forrest, and Frederick,
the names beginning—this was his little joke—

the way the numbers one through five begin.
His wife had said he counted them every day
to see if the raccoon had eaten one.
He was only calling the roll. The fish had a way

of showing they knew he was there, the old preacher
come to share his parables again.
They took the bread he broke and never blinked,
no matter the stories he told, till he said, Amen.

If he immersed his fingers, they nibbled the tips
but never allowed his hands to comfort and bless.
That was all right. People had done the same.
As if he were deaf, he listened to read their lips,
told them to go, baptized in the watery name,
and believed in the skulking raccoon less and less.

From: Williams, Miller, Some Jazz a While: Collected Poems, 1999, University of Illinois Press: Chicago, p. 265.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=6xyns4_TjhoC)

Date: 1999

By: Stanley Miller Williams (1930-2015)

Sunday, 5 August 2018

An Ocean Without Shore by Muhyiddin ibn ‘Arabi

I marveled at an Ocean without shore,
and at a Shore that did not have an ocean;
And at a Morning Light without darkness,
and at a Night that was without daybreak;
And then a Sphere with no locality
known to either fool or learned scholar;
And at an azure Dome raised over the earth,
circulating ’round its center – Compulsion;
And at a rich Earth without o’er-arching vault
and no specific location, the Secret concealed…

I courted a Secret which existence did not alter;
for it was asked of me: “Has Thought enchanted you? ”
– To which I replied: “I have no power over that;
I counsel you: Be patient with it while you live.
But, truly, if Thought becomes established
in my mind, the embers kindle into flame,
And everything is given up to fire
the like of which was never seen before!”
And it was said to me: “He does not pluck a flower
who calls himself with courtesy ‘Freeborn’.”
“He who woos the belle femme in her boudoir, love-beguiled,
will never deem the bridal-price too high!”

I gave her the dower and was given her in marriage
throughout the night until the break of Dawn –
But other than Myself I did not find. – Rather,
that One whom I married – may his affair be known:
For added to the Sun’s measure of light
are the radiant New Moon and shining Stars;
Like Time, dispraised – though the Prophet (Blessings on him!)
had once declared of your Lord that He is Time.

From: http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/articles/elmore.html

Date: 1200 (original in Arabic); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Muhyiddin ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240)

Translated by: Gerald Elmore (19??- )

Monday, 9 July 2018

In Memoriam Myself by Jan Jacob Slauerhoff

By enemies hemmed in,
With ‘friends in need’ who’ve fled
Rank meat that stinks like sin,
I laugh, toss back my head,
Though torn to shreds within,
My body all but dead.

Each day my life was crossed
By new adversity.
Good reaped iniquity;
I paid a heavy cost,
But now the battle’s lost
I fight on doggedly.

Snow, ice envelop me,
The bodies are piled high
Of those who crazily
Pursued my inner ‘I’,
Once bright as ‘gay Paree’,
Now polar, frozen, dry.

I leave no last bequest,
Smash life’s work at a stroke;
No mercy I request,
Curse past and future folk;
Stand tall where they now rest,
And treat death as a joke.

I look fate in the eye,
Have said not one goodbye,
But want men when I die
To say just this of me:
‘He did good very ill,
Served bad with honest will,
Succumbed while battling still,
Undaunted, lived his fill,
Intolerant and free.’

From: http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_low001199901_01/_low001199901_01_0020.php

Date: 1936 (original in Dutch); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936)

Translated by: Paul Vincent (1942- )

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

1941 by Ruth Stone

I wore a large brim hat
like the women in the ads.
How thin I was: such skin.
Yes. It was Indianapolis;
a taste of sin.

You had a natural Afro;
no money for a haircut.
We were in the seedy part;
the buildings all run-down;
the record shop, the jazz
impeccable. We moved like
the blind, relying on our touch.
At the corner coffee shop,
after an hour’s play, with our
serious game on paper,
the waitress asked us
to move on. It wasn’t much.

Oh mortal love, your bones
were beautiful. I traced them
with my fingers. Now the light
grows less. You were so angular.
The air darkens with steel
and smoke. The cracked world
about to disintegrate,
in the arms of my total happiness.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47986/1941

Date: 1999

By: Ruth Stone (1915-2011)

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Spring Rain is Falling by Fujiwara no Teika

Spring rain is falling
On the wings of the wild geese
As they return north,
Wings that drooped when they struggled
Through a sky laden with frost.

From: https://www.gwern.net/docs/japanese/teika

Date: 1197 (original in Japanese); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241)

Translated by: Donald Keene (1922- )

Monday, 3 April 2017

Dog Music by Paul Zimmer

Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—”Stardust,”
“Naima,” “The Trout,” “My Rosary,” “Perdido.”
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.

Now I have a small dog who does not sing,
but listens with discernment, requiring
skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.
I sing her name and words of love
andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.
Sometimes she is so moved she turns
to place a paw across her snout,
closes her eyes, sighing like a girl
I held and danced with years ago.

But I am a pretender to dog music.
The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,
listeners and singers together or
apart, beyond friendship and anger,
far from any human imposter—
ballads of long nights lifting
to starlight, songs of bones, turds,
conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,
things settled long before our birth.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/40659

Date: 1999

By: Paul Zimmer (1934- )

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Forgetfulness by William James “Billy” Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

From: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/forgetfulness

Date: 1999

By: William James “Billy” Collins (1941- )

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Summer by Luke Davies

The sky broods like the whole of Sydney’s
done something wrong and it can’t quite put its finger
on it. Christmas stretches into New Year and
Sydneysiders wear the vacant stare of the slightly
troubled. This is nothing, you think. Humidity
of gathering crowds. Everyone heads to the beach
and the beach too is not quite right, the way
the water stalks foreigners, the way the seaweed

crunches underfoot, the way the wind whips sand
into your fillings. This is nothing, you think.
Diving onto the sandbar, the boy breaks his neck
and the helicopter takes him away. Too much sun,
everywhere. All a helicopter ever meant
is Apocalypse Now, the way its blades shimmer
in the salt haze. The gulls go more insane than ever,
if that’s possible, and later you learn the neck boy dies.

From: http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/14572/auto/0/SUMMER

Date: 1999

By: Luke Davies (1962- )