Posts tagged ‘2014’

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Moral Lesson About a Woman, Beautiful in Front and Frightful at the Back by Michel Beheim

Once I began happily to ride
early one morn.
It was May-time.
I came upon a green meadow.
With lilies, violets and roses
was it adorned in blissful bloom,
with flowers—even meadow-saffron.
I heard the song of many a bold bird:
mellifluously I heard sing
crested larks, larks, thrush and Dame Nightingale.
My youthful heart was bursting with joy
as I perceived the rich echo
of their sweet musical tones,
resounding so joyously.
I also saw flowers spring up:
yellow, red, blue and white.
On this green heather
I encountered an extremely beautiful woman.
I swear:
never on earth
had I seen such a blissful figure.
She was the fulfillment of every wish.
Going onto the field,
she plucked blossoms and roses.
Her glorious body was assiduously formed
like that of an angel.
Her hair was as golden as silk; her eyes were brown.
Her complexion gave off a soft gleam.
She had two, fair little cheeks,
rose red and lily white.
Her mouth cast fire like a ruby,
and her face was beautifully shaped.
Her beauty I must praise,
On her head she bore a wreath
made from seven flowers.
Her heart was fancy-free and rich in joy.
This beautiful woman greeted me,
whereupon my heart grew excessively gay.
With soft, sweet words,
she addressed me chastely.
I dismounted near this lovely woman
and bade her sit next to me.
Refined in manner, I proclaimed that I wished to become her servant.
My heart
was inflamed in love for her.
I imagined that she would be my bliss.
I spoke with clever and genteel words
until I had consummated my love with this fine lady.
I had so much pleasure with her!
No woman was ever as compliant as she to me.
Then night fell
and it was time for us to part.
She said: “I cannot abide any longer.
I must leave this heather.”
Thereupon we parted.
My joy and delight became great dismay.
I departed from my beloved.
She then turned around, revealing a wretched aspect.
The rear part of her body contained foul rottenness.
There I saw burrowing maggots
filthy worm-maws,
dead, putrefying flesh and pus-filled tissue.
Nothing ever smelled as bad.
I saw my fill of toads, adders, snakes
and impure serpents
hanging from her back.
Can you guess who this woman is?
I identify her as the world.
The wreath that she bore upon her head,
composed of seven flowers:
these blooms betoken the seven capital sins.
With these the world is garlanded beyond all measure;
shamelessly they gild the world.
The world is outwardly pleasing and refulgent, but inside hollow—
its beauty underpinned by vileness.
Whoever places trust in the world is deluded.
Its glories are fleeting and will be mocked.
O mankind, keep God forever before your eyes
and think, where your journey will end!

From: McDonald, William C., The World as Woman: Two Late Medieval Song-Poems on Frau Welt by Michel Beheim in Modern Philology, Vol. 114, No. 4 (May 2014), pp. 639-640.

Date: 1457 (original in German); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Michel Beheim (1416-c1472)

Translated by: William C. McDonald (19??- )

Monday, 6 May 2019

On Finding Julia, He Greeted Her Thus by Bálint Balassi

(Sung to the Turkish tune “Gerekmez bu Dünya sensuz”)

All the world to me is nothing
If I have thee not, my dearling,
Loveliness with lover meeting;
Health be to thy soul, my sweeting!

Joy thou art to my heart’s sadness,
Blessings of a heavenly witness,
Balm of soul’s desirous madness,
All God’s peace and all its gladness.

Precious fortress, fastness dearest,
Crimson rose of perfume rarest,
Violet daintiest and fairest,
Long be the life thou, Julia, bearest!

As a sunrise thine eyes’ dawning
Under coal-black brows a-burning
Fell upon mine own eyes’ yearning,
Thine, whose life is my life’s morning.

With thy love my heart’s afire,
Thou, the princess of my prayer,
Heart and soul and love entire,
Hail, my soul’s one last desire!

Finding Julia I, enchanted,
Greeted her as here presented,
Bowed in reverence unwonted,
But a smile was all she granted.

From: Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna and Turner, Frederick, Light Within the Shade: 800 Years of Hungarian Poetry, 2014, Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, New York, p. 9.

Date: 1588-1589 (original in Hungarian); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Bálint Balassi (1554-1594)

Translated by: Zsuzsanna Ozsváth (1931- ) and Frederick Turner (1943- )

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Bitter, As I Know Too Well… by Kata Szidónia Petrőczy

Bitter, as I know too well, was my beginning;
Bitter was the orphaned course of my upbringing;
Bitter, sad, would be the time of my wing-taking;
Bitter till I die my heart will go on aching.
Since my heart with sadness as in smoke is smothered,
I, as if a thing, to fate and chance being tethered,
To a cruelty self-renewing and unwithered;
Pain burns on in me, unlucky and unmothered.

From: Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna and Turner, Frederick (eds. and transls.), Light Within the Shade: Eight Hundred Years of Hungarian Poetry, 2014, Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, New York, p. 14.

Date: 1681-1683 (original in Hungarian); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Kata Szidónia Petrőczy (1662-1708)

Translated by: Zsuzsanna Ozsváth (1931- ) and Frederick Turner (1943- )

Thursday, 24 January 2019

I Must Be A God by Gregory Fraser

just look how the whole Atlantic sprays my feet with kisses
a god
or a matador at least
sidestepping month after month
charges of the two-horned moon

I might have been one of those unfortunates forced
to live below a sky without color or cloud
under a flaming cipher

or one of the innocents torn from their beds like crabmeat from shells

Something always clued me though
when to hide or run
and you see
I had the patience of a cathedral step

Were I a pebble I would disturb your window
bearing words of apologetic longing

I am not

Were I mud clinging to a bank afraid of drowning
I would cry out for chivalrous compassion

I must be a god

A nameless weight kin to love loss slows the blood of many

but look at the overjoy of thrashers
my state birds
rushing toward me

Even in my absence they hurtle toward the big bay
windows of my twice
mortgaged temple

and leave as offerings head feathers stuck to the glass!


Date: 2014

By: Gregory Fraser (19??- )

Sunday, 25 November 2018

If I’m Early by Hugo (Hugh Anthony Mordaunt Vyner) Williams

Every other day I follow the route
of the Midland Railway
to where it cuts through
St. Pancras Old Church Cemetery.
I might go into the church
and heave a sigh or two
before continuing via a gate
set in the cemetery wall
to the Mary Rankin Wing
of St. Pancras Hospital.

As a young man, Thomas Hardy
supervised the removal of bodies
from part of the cemetery
to make way for the trains.
He placed the headstones
round an ash tree sapling,
now grown tall, where I stop sometimes
to look at the stones
crowding around the old tree
like children listening to a story.


Date: 2014

By: Hugo (Hugh Anthony Mordaunt Vyner) Williams (1942- )

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

What Are They Doing in the Next Room by Bruce Smith

Are they unmaking everything?
Are they tuning the world sitar?
Are they taking an ice pick to being?
Are they enduring freedom in Kandahar?

Sounds, at this distance, like field hollers,
sounds like they’ll be needing CPR.
Sounds like the old complaint of love and dollars.
Sounds like when Coltrane met Ravi Shankar

and the raga met the rag and hearing
became different and you needed CPR
after listening and tearing was tearing
and love was a binary star—

distant bodies eclipsing each other
with versions of gravity and light.
Sounds like someone’s trying to smother
the other—a homicide or a wedding night.

The television derives the half-full hours.
Time exists as mostly what’s to come.
Losing also is ours…
I meant that as a question.

Is I the insomniac’s question?
Are you a dendrite or a dream?
Between oblivion and affection,
which one is fear and which protection?

Are they transitive or in?
Are they process or product?
Are they peeling off the skin?
Are they Paris or the abducted?

They’re reading something after Joyce,
post modern stuff that can be read
but not understood except as voices
rising and falling from the dead.

Do they invent me
as I invent their faces?
I see surveillance gray wasted
with bliss at having thieved identities.

In the AM, when turns to usted,
the sun clocks in to overwrite the night
with hues and saturations and the red
hesitates for a second to be incarnate.


Date: 2014

By: Bruce Smith (1946- )

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Fixed Hour Prayers by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Her father’s inner life, closed
to her, and now, to him, a distant
monastery, a vow of silence
required for visitation.

Still, she makes her pilgrimage. She brings
baskets of goodies: the pistachio nuts
he loves, the puzzle books,
some warm socks. She leaves
her offering on his dresser.

She listens to the Gregorian chant
of her father’s wheezing lungs,
a language at once both familiar
and strange. The nurses, with their Psalmody
of medications, appear throughout the day,
a liturgy of the hours.

Before she leaves, she reads
the books of her childhood
out loud to him: the otter
making his journey home, the children
finding their way through a dark forest,
families forging a life on a prairie.

She reads these bedtime stories,
a compline of comfort
that asserts the possibility
of safe passage through the night.


Date: 2014

By: Kristin Berkey-Abbott (19??- )

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Howard by Jack Ross

The only time we ever called the police
on one of our noisy neighbours
it was Howard

his mother had just been taken away
to the hospice where she died
and he was sad

(or so he told us later)
he sat in the front room
drinking beer

and started to howl
whilst playing Led Zeppelin
louder and louder

by 2 am we’d had enough
we began to worry
he’d top himself

or so we rationalised it
the fuzz turned up in force
we heard them knocking first

then going round all the doors
finally they broke in
cuffed him

and took him off to jail
a few days later
a week or so before he left for good

Bronwyn met him by the clothesline
Don’t they understand being sad?
he said

One of the neighbours called the cops on me!
I still feel ashamed
we couldn’t admit

it was us.


Date: 2014

By: Jack Ross (1962- )

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

ICE Agents Storm My Porch by Maria Melendez Kelson

The Indiscriminate Citizenry of Earth
are out to arrest my sense of being a misfit.
“Open up!” they bellow,
hands quiet before my door
that’s only wind and juniper needles, anyway.

You can’t do it, I squeak from inside.
You can’t make me feel at home here
in this time of siege for me and mine, mi raza.
Legalized suspicion of my legitimacy
is now a permanent resident in my gut.

“Fruit of the prickly pear!” they swear,
striding up to my table
to juice me a glass of pink nectar.
They’ve brought welcome baskets
stuffed with proof I’m earthling.

From under a gingham cover,
I tug a dark feather
iridescing green — cohering
to “magpie” thought,
to memory’s chatter,
to mind. Mine.

And here they have my mind translated
into a slate-surfaced pond, which
vibrates in the shape
of a cottonwood’s autumn molt,
which trees me to dirt, which soils me
heat & freeze —

But you’ll always be
one definitive document short! I complain.
Doubts can forever outstrip
your geo-logic.

For which they produce
a lock of my natal dust,
to the fluttering fiber
of lacebark pine.

Where’d they get that stuff?

The baskets are bottomless,
and it’s useless for me to insist
on being distinct.
Undergoing re-portation,
I’m awakened to a Center,

where walls
between all beings
are dreamt to dissolve.


Date: 2014

By: Maria Melendez Kelson (19??- )

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Little Religion by Christian Wiman

His little religion
of common things
uncommonly loved
served him well.
Especially in Hell.

When the sickbed sunlight
banishes shadows
like the noontime tin
of the storm cellar door
long, long before,
he is the blaze
it takes a man to raise,
he is the stone-
stepped dark a child
goes feelingly down.

As if to be
were to be
by oblivion
and forgiven


Date: 2014

By: Christian Wiman (1966- )