Posts tagged ‘2008’

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Annunciation by Samuel Menashe

She bows her head
Submissive, yet
Her downcast glance
Asks the angel, “Why
For this romance,
Do I qualify?”


Date: 2008

By: Samuel Menashe (1925-2011)

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Hit the Road by Patrick Moran

the story goes like this
you’ve heard it before
the sound of your footsteps
grows distant in the dark

beneath the star’s peculiar light
you realize you are walking
away from yourself

there’s no pity here
there’s only the body attuned
to its own diminishing.


Date: 2008

By: Patrick Moran (19??- )

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

If I Were Paul by Mark Jarman

Consider how you were made.

Consider the loving geometry that sketched your bones, the passionate symmetry that sewed
flesh to your skeleton, and the cloudy zenith whence your soul descended in shimmering rivulets
across pure granite to pour as a single braided stream into the skull’s cup.

Consider the first time you conceived of justice, engendered mercy, brought parity into being,
coaxed liberty like a marten from its den to uncoil its limber spine in a sunny clearing, how you
understood the inheritance of first principles, the legacy of noble thought, and built a city like a
forest in the forest, and erected temples like thunderheads.

Consider, as if it were penicillin or the speed of light, the discovery of another’s hands, his oval
field of vision, her muscular back and hips, his nerve-jarred neck and shoulders, her bleeding
gums and dry elbows and knees, his baldness and cauterized skin cancers, her lucid and
forgiving gaze, his healing touch, her mind like a prairie.  Consider the first knowledge of
otherness.  How it felt.

Consider what you were meant to be in the egg, in your parents’ arms, under a sky full of stars.

Now imagine what I have to say when I learn of your enterprising viciousness, the discipline
with which one of you turns another into a robot or a parasite or a maniac or a body strapped to a
chair.  Imagine what I have to say.

Do the impossible.  Restore life to those you have killed, wholeness to those you have maimed,
goodness to what you have poisoned, trust to those you have betrayed.

Bless each other with the heart and soul, the hand and eye, the head and foot, the lips, tongue,
and teeth, the inner ear and the outer ear, the flesh and spirit, the brain and bowels, the blood and
lymph, the heel and toe, the muscle and bone, the waist and hips, the chest and shoulders, the
whole body, clothed and naked, young and old, aging and growing up.

I send you this not knowing if you will receive it, or if having received it, you will read it, or if
having read it, you will know that it contains my blessing.


Date: 2008

By: Mark Jarman (1952- )

Friday, 22 September 2017

Madrigal by Chiara Matraini

When first encountering this beautiful sight,
my lord, I am engulfed by an icy flame
that little by little burns and destroys me from within.
Yet so sweet is that fire
that my heart rejoices even as my soul shatters,
and if the one gives it place
the other truly detests the sound.
So I do not understand if I live or die,
while I go on offending myself with pleasure.

From: Matraini, Chiara and Maclachlan, Elaine (ed. and transl.), Selected Poetry and Prose : A Bilingual Edition, 2014, University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, p. 49.

Date: 1555 (original in Italian); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Chiara Matraini (1515-1604)

Translated by: Elaine Maclachlan (19??- )

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Midsummer by Louise Glück

On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry,
the boys making up games requiring them to tear off  the girls’ clothes
and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer
and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones
leaping off  the high rocks — bodies crowding the water.

The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet,
marble for  graveyards, for buildings that we never saw,
buildings in cities far away.

On cloudy nights, you were blind. Those nights the rocks were dangerous,
but in another way it was all dangerous, that was what we were after.
The summer started. Then the boys and girls began to pair off
but always there were a few left at the end — sometimes they’d keep watch,
sometimes they’d pretend to go off  with each other like the rest,
but what could they do there, in the woods? No one wanted to be them.
But they’d show up anyway, as though some night their luck would change,
fate would be a different fate.

At the beginning and at the end, though, we were all together.
After the evening chores, after the smaller children were in bed,
then we were free. Nobody said anything, but we knew the nights we’d meet
and the nights we wouldn’t. Once or twice, at the end of summer,
we could see a baby was going to come out of all that kissing.

And for those two, it was terrible, as terrible as being alone.
The game was over. We’d sit on the rocks smoking cigarettes,
worrying about the ones who weren’t there.

And then finally walk home through the fields,
because there was always work the next day.
And the next day, we were kids again, sitting on the front steps in the morning,
eating a peach.  Just that, but it seemed an honor to have a mouth.
And then going to work, which meant helping out in the fields.
One boy worked for an old lady, building shelves.
The house was very old, maybe built when the mountain was built.

And then the day faded. We were dreaming, waiting for night.
Standing at the front door at twilight, watching the shadows lengthen.
And a voice in the kitchen was always complaining about the heat,
wanting the heat to break.

Then the heat broke, the night was clear.
And you thought of  the boy or girl you’d be meeting later.
And you thought of  walking into the woods and lying down,
practicing all those things you were learning in the water.
And though sometimes you couldn’t see the person you were with,
there was no substitute for that person.

The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:
You will leave the village where you were born
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though
you can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.


Date: 2008

By: Louise Glück (1943- )

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Swansong, Mile End by Siddhartha Bose

Pigeons on a tiled roof.
Foreground—bus stop shines in the rain.

Swans—patches of cloud—
float long Regent’s Canal, its

skin, moving fish scales.

Shirt of sky opens.
Hair of stars sprout.

Plastic bags crackle like
pellets of rain in a tin can, like fire

bled on wood.

A southbound train lunges over a

The night is radioactive.

The two swans screech their song of love,
shake their manes, become

proud as horses.


Date: 2008

By: Siddhartha Bose (19??- )

Sunday, 29 January 2017

To a Scandalmonger by Marie de Romieu

Who sent us this black devil, chased from hell,
Sloping of brow, hideous and hollow-eyed,
Who would spew forth is malice, puffed with pride,
On her the Muses love, where virtues dwell?

Go, wretch! On others work your fancy fell!
Begone, churl! Nevermore in France abide.
Rather, the dark, infernal land bestride;
Then be entombed, spurned to a fare-thee-well!

Tell me! What errant Demon goaded you
To slander her whose lyre sings fair and true,
Beloved by all of honor and high station?

You err! Oh, how you err! Can you design
No manner less abject, more decent, swine,

Than, by such lies, to spread your reputation?

From: Shapiro, Norman R. (ed. and transl.) French Women Poets of Nine Centuries: The Distaff & The Pen, 2008, John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, Maryland, p. 249.

Date: 1581 (original in French); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Marie de Romieu (16th century)

Translated by: Norman. R. Shapiro (19??- )

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Lines 61-78 of “Speculum Vitae” by William of Nassyngton

In English tonge I schall you telle,
yif ye with me so longe wil dwelle.
No Latyn wil I speke no waste,
But Englisch, that men vse mast,
That can ech man vnderstonde,
That is born in Ingelande.
For that langage is most chewyd,
Os wel among lered as lewyd.
Latyn, as I trowe, can nane
But tho, that haueth it in scol tane.
And somme can frenssche and no Latyn,
That vsed hav cowrt and dwellen therein.
And somme can of Latyn a party,
That can of Frensche but febly.
And somme vnderstonde wel Englysch,
That can nother Laty nor Frankys.
Bothe lered and lewed, olde and yonge,
Alle vnderstonden english tonge.


Date: 14th century (original); 2008 (translation)

By: William of Nassyngton (died 1354)

Translated by: Venetia Somerset (1939- )

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Excerpt from “The Anchor’s Long Chain” by Yves Bonnefoy

They say
Boats appear in the sky
And from some of them
The anchor’s long chain may rattle down,
Down towards our furtive land.
The anchor bobs over our fields and trees
Seeking a place to moor,
But soon a wish from above yanks it free;
The ship of elsewhere has no use for here,
Its horizon lies in another dream.

It may however come to pass
That the anchor is heavy, unusually so,
And rakes the ground, rumpling the trees.
Someone saw it snag a church door,
Catch the arch where our hope fades,
And a sailor shinned down
The taut, jerking chain,
And freed his heaven from our night.
Such anguish as he toiled against the vault
Both hands grappling with his strange iron—
Why must
Something within us lure our minds
In this crossing our words attempt
All unknowing, towards the other shore?


Date: 2008 (original in French); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Yves Bonnefoy (1923- )

Translated by: Beverley Bie Brahic (19??- )

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Time Machine by Nicolás Suescún

The clock has lost its hands
and man marks time with his,
always turning around on his own axle,
noisy voyager of space,
that vast silence
unbroken by his voice or his cries
or his erratic passage through the world,
the ungratefulness of a prodigal son
who never returns,
till the hour of his death,
to the great Mother Earth who gave him life.
The clock has lost its hands
and man marks time with his.


Date: 200? (original); 2008 (translation)

By: Nicolás Suescún (1937- )

Translated by: Nicolás Suescún (1937- )