Robert Seymour Bridges |
'Twas at that hour of beauty when the setting sun
squandereth his cloudy bed with rosy hues, to flood
his lov'd works as in turn he biddeth them Good-night;
and all the towers and temples and mansions of men
face him in bright farewell, ere they creep from their pomp
naked beneath the darkness;- while to mortal eyes
'tis given, ifso they close not of fatigue, nor strain
at lamplit tasks-'tis given, as for a royal boon
to beggarly outcasts in homeless vigil, to watch
where uncurtain's behind the great windows of space
Heav'n's jewel'd company circleth unapproachably-
'Twas at sunset that I, fleeing to hide my soul
in refuge of beauty from a mortal distress,
walk'd alone with the Muse in her garden of thought,
discoursing at liberty with the mazy dreams
that came wavering pertinaciously about me; as when
the small bats, issued from their hangings, flitter o'erhead
thru' the summer twilight, with thin cries to and fro
hunting in muffled flight atween the stars and flowers.
Then fell I in strange delusion, illusion strange to tell;
for as a man who lyeth fast asleep in his bed
may dream he waketh, and that he walketh upright
pursuing some endeavour in full conscience-so 'twas
with me; but contrawise; for being in truth awake
methought I slept and dreamt; and in thatt dream methought
I was telling a dream; nor telling was I as one
who, truly awaked from a true sleep, thinketh to tell
his dream to a friend, but for his scant remembrances
findeth no token of speech-it was not so with me;
for my tale was my dream and my dream the telling,
and I remember wondring the while I told it
how I told it so tellingly.
And yet now 'twould seem
that Reason inveighed me with her old orderings;
as once when she took thought to adjust theology,
peopling the inane that vex'd her between God and man
with a hierarchy of angels; like those asteroids
wherewith she later fill'd the gap 'twixt Jove and Mars.
Verily by Beauty it is that we come as WISDOM,
yet not by Reason at Beauty; and now with many words
pleasing myself betimes I am fearing lest in the end
I play the tedious orator who maundereth on
for lack of heart to make an end of his nothings.
Wherefor as when a runner who hath run his round
handeth his staff away, and is glad of his rest,
here break I off, knowing the goal was not for me
the while I ran on telling of what cannot be told.
For not the Muse herself can tell of Goddes love;
which cometh to the child from the Mother's embrace,
an Idea spacious as the starry firmament's
inescapable infinity of radiant gaze,
that fadeth only as it outpasseth mortal sight:
and this direct contact is 't with eternities,
this springtide miracle of the soul's nativity
that oft hath set philosophers adrift in dream;
which thing Christ taught, when he set up a little child
to teach his first Apostles and to accuse their pride,
saying, 'Unless ye shall receive it as a child,
ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
So thru'out all his young mental apprenticehood
the child of very simplicity, and in the grace
and beauteous attitude of infantine wonder,
is apt to absorb Ideas in primal purity,
and by the assimilation of thatt immortal food
may build immortal life; but ever with the growth
of understanding, as the sensible images
are more and more corrupt, troubled by questioning thought,
or with vainglory alloy'd, 'tis like enought the boy
in prospect of his manhood wil hav cast to th' winds
his Baptism with his Babyhood; nor might he escape
the fall of Ev'ryman, did not a second call
of nature's Love await him to confirm his Faith
or to revoke him if he is whollylapsed therefrom.
And so mighty is this second vision, which cometh
in puberty of body and adolescence of mind
that, forgetting his Mother, he calleth it 'first Love';
for it mocketh at suasion or stubbornness of heart,
as the oceantide of the omnipotent Pleasur of God,
flushing all avenues of life, and unawares
by thousandfold approach forestalling its full flood
with divination of the secret contacts of Love,--
of faintest ecstasies aslumber in Nature's calm,
like thought in a closed book, where some poet long since
sang his throbbing passion to immortal sleep-with coy
tenderness delicat as the shifting hues
that sanctify the silent dawn with wonder-gleams,
whose evanescence is the seal of their glory,
consumed in self-becoming of eternity;
til every moment as it flyeth, cryeth 'Seize!
Seize me ere I die! I am the Life of Life.
'Tis thus by near approach to an eternal presence
man's heart with divine furor kindled and possess'd
falleth in blind surrender; and finding therewithal
in fullest devotion the full reconcilement
betwixt his animal and spiritual desires,
such welcome hour of bliss standeth for certain pledge
of happiness perdurable: and coud he sustain
this great enthusiasm, then the unbounded promise
would keep fulfilment; since the marriage of true minds
is thatt once fabled garden, amidst of which was set
the single Tree that bore such med'cinable fruit
that if man ate thereof he should liv for ever.
Friendship is in loving rather than in being lov'd,
which is its mutual benediction and recompense;
and tho' this be, and tho' love is from lovers learn'd,
it springeth none the less from the old essence of self.
No friendless man ('twas well said) can be truly himself;
what a man looketh for in his friend and findeth,
and loving self best, loveth better than himself,
is his own better self, his live lovable idea,
flowering by expansion in the loves of his life.
And in the nobility of our earthly friendships
we hav al grades of attainment, and the best may claim
perfection of kind; and so, since ther be many bonds
other than breed (friendships of lesser motiv, found
even in the brutes) and since our politick is based
on actual association of living men, 'twil come
that the spiritual idea of Friendship, the huge
vastidity of its essence, is fritter'd away
in observation of the usual habits of men;
as happ'd with the great moralist, where his book saith
that ther can be no friendship betwixt God and man
because of their unlimited disparity.
From this dilemma of pagan thought, this poison of faith,
Man-soul made glad escape in the worship of Christ;
for his humanity is God's Personality,
and communion with him is the life of the soul.
Of which living ideas (when in the struggle of thought
harden'd by language they became symbols of faith)
Reason builded her maze, wherefrom none should escape,
wandering intent to map and learn her tortuous clews,
chanting their clerkly creed to the high-echoing stones
of their hand-fashion'd temple: but the Wind of heav'n
bloweth where it listeth, and Christ yet walketh the earth,
and talketh still as with those two disciples once
on the road to Emmaus-where they walk and are sad;
whose vision of him then was his victory over death,
thatt resurrection which all his lovers should share,
who in loving him had learn'd the Ethick of happiness;
whereby they too should come where he was ascended
to reign over men's hearts in the Kingdom of God.
Our happiest earthly comradeships hold a foretaste
of the feast of salvation and by thatt virtue in them
provoke desire beyond them to out-reach and surmount
their humanity in some superhumanity
and ultimat perfection: which, howe'ever 'tis found
or strangeley imagin'd, answereth to the need of each
and pulleth him instinctivly as to a final cause.
Thus unto all who hav found their high ideal in Christ,
Christ is to them the essence discern'd or undeiscern'd
of all their human friendships; and each lover of him
and of his beauty must be as a bud on the Vine
and hav participation in him; for Goddes love
is unescapable as nature's environment,
which if a man ignore or think to thrust it off
he is the ill-natured fool that runneth blindly on death.
This Individualism is man's true Socialism.
This is the rife Idea whose spiritual beauty
multiplieth in communion to transcendant might.
This is thatt excelent way whereon if we wil walk
all things shall be added unto us-thatt Love which inspired
the wayward Visionary in his doctrinal ode
to the three christian Graces, the Church's first hymn
and only deathless athanasian creed,--the which
'except a man believe he cannot be saved.
This is the endearing bond whereby Christ's company
yet holdeth together on the truth of his promise
that he spake of his grat pity and trust in man's love,
'Lo, I am with you always ev'n to the end of the world.
Truly the Soul returneth the body's loving
where it hath won it.
and God so loveth the world.
and in the fellowship of the friendship of Christ
God is seen as the very self-essence of love,
Creator and mover of all as activ Lover of all,
self-express'd in not-self, mind and body, mother and child,
'twixt lover and loved, God and man: but ONE ETERNAL
in the love of Beauty and in the selfhood of Love.
Tupac Shakur |
Lets not talk of money
let us 4 get the world
4 a moment lets just reveal
in our eternal comadery
in my heart i know
there will never be a day
that i don't remember
the times we shared
u were a friend
when i was at my lowest
and being a friend to me
was not easy or fashionable
regardless of how popular
I became u remain
my unconditional friend
unconditional in it's truest sense
did u think i would forget
did u for 1 moment dream
that I would ignore u
if so remember this from here 2 forever
nothing can come between us
Carolyn Kizer |
for Maxine Kumin
Where did these enormous children come from,
More ladylike than we have ever been?
Some of ours look older than we feel.
How did they appear in their long dresses
More ladylike than we have ever been?
But they moan about their aging more than we do,
In their fragile heels and long black dresses.
They say they admire our youthful spontaneity.
They moan about their aging more than we do,
A somber group--why don't they brighten up?
Though they say they admire our youthful spontaneity
The beg us to be dignified like them
As they ignore our pleas to brighten up.
Someday perhaps we'll capture their attention
Then we won't try to be dignified like them
Nor they to be so gently patronizing.
Someday perhaps we'll capture their attention.
Don't they know that we're supposed to be the stars?
Instead they are so gently patronizing.
It makes us feel like children--second-childish?
Perhaps we're too accustomed to be stars.
The famous flowers glowing in the garden,
So now we pout like children.
Quaint fragments of forgotten history?
Our daughters stroll together in the garden,
Chatting of news we've chosen to ignore,
Pausing to toss us morsels of their history,
Not questions to which only we know answers.
Eyes closed to news we've chosen to ignore,
We'd rather excavate old memories,
Disdaining age, ignoring pain, avoiding mirrors.
Why do they never listen to our stories?
Because they hate to excavate old memories
They don't believe our stories have an end.
They don't ask questions because they dread the answers.
They don't see that we've become their mirrors,
We offspring of our enormous children.
Charles Baudelaire |
THE Demon, in my chamber high,
This morning came to visit me,
And, thinking he would find some fault,
He whispered: "I would know of thee
Among the many lovely things
That make the magic of her face,
Among the beauties, black and rose,
That make her body's charm and grace,
Which is most fair?" Thou didst reply
To the Abhorred, O soul of mine:
"No single beauty is the best
When she is all one flower divine.
When all things charm me I ignore
Which one alone brings most delight;
She shines before me like the dawn,
And she consoles me like the night.
The harmony is far too great,
That governs all her body fair,
For impotence to analyse
And say which note is sweetest there.
O mystic metamorphosis!
My senses into one sense flow--
Her voice makes perfume when she speaks,
Her breath is music faint and low!"
Alexander Pushkin |
I love you - though it makes me beat,
Though vain it seems, and melancholy -
Yet to this shameless, hapless folly
I'll be confessing at your feet.
It ill becomes me: that I'm older,
Time I should be more sensible.
And yet the frivolous disorder
Fills every jitter of my soul.
Say you'll be gone - I'm jaded, yawning;
You're back - I'm sad, I suffer through -
Yet how can I be clear, from owning,
My angel, all my care for you!
When off the stairs your weightless footfall,
Your dress's rustle, reaches me,
Your voice, as maidenly, as youthful -
I lose my senses instantly.
You smile at me - I'm glad, immensely;
Ignore me - and I'm sad, again;
Your pallid hand will recompense me
For the whole day of utter pain.
When you're embroidering, or setting
Your eye on something fair, or letting
Your hair amuse you - I'm beguiled;
In silence, reddening, all forgetting
I watch you like a spellbound child.
But then how wretched my existence,
How desolate my jealous pain,
When you set out into the distance
To wander in the cold and rain;
And then your solitary grievings,
Or, in the corner, twosome talks,
Or twosome piano in the evenings,
Or twosome trips, or twosome walks.
Alina! just a little mercy -
I dare not even mention love:
For sins I have been guilty of,
My angel, of your care unworthy.
But feign it! All can be achieved
By that absorbing gaze, believe me.
Oh, it takes little to deceive me -
I cannot wait to be deceived!
by Genia Gurarie, 10.
95 - 4.
Copyright retained by Genia Gurarie.
For permission to reproduce, write personally to the translator.
Taja Kramberger |
Every dead one has a name,
only the names of the living make us falter.
Some names are impossible to utter
without a stammer and a fidget,
some can only be spoken
and some, mostly women’s,
are forbidden in these parts.
Every dead one has a name,
engraved in stone,
printed in obituary or directory,
but my name must be undermined,
every few years
soiled and substituted
with another one.
A decade ago,
a high-ranking party official warned me:
Stay a poet, as long as there’s still time.
Still time? Time for what?
I have also become a social scientist
and an editor and an organiser
and a translator and an activist
and a university teacher.
Unbearable - all these things -
all trespasses of the old parcel borders
that were drawn by the dirty
fingers of fraternities.
I air all the rooms,
I ignore all the ratings,
I open all the valvelets.
And they have put me out in the cold –
like the dead.
But every dead one has a name.
© Taja Kramberger, Z roba klifa / From the Edge of a Cliff, CSK, Ljubljana, 2011
© Translation by Špela Drnovšek Zorko, 2012
Carolyn Kizer |
For Ann London
As you described your mastectomy in calm detail
and bared your chest so I might see
the puckered scar,
"They took a hatchet to your breast!" I said.
Amazon you are.
When we were girls we climbed Mt.
chewing bay leaves we had plucked
along the way;
we got high all right, from animal pleasure in each other,
shouting to the sky.
On your houseboat we tried to ignore the impossible guy
you had married to enrage your family,
a typical ploy.
We were great fools let loose in the No Name bar
on Sausalito's bay.
In San Francisco we'd perch on a waterfront pier
chewing sourdough and cheese, swilling champagne,
kicking our heels;
crooning lewd songs, hooting like seagulls,
we bayed with the seals.
Then you married someone in Mexico,
broke up in two weeks, didn't bother to divorce,
claimed it didn't count.
You dumped number three, fled to Albany
to become a pedant.
Averse to domesticity, you read for your Ph.
Your four-year-old looked like a miniature
You fed him peanut butter from your jar and raised him
on Beowulf and Grendal.
Much later in New York we reunited;
in an elevator at Sak's a woman asked for
You glowed like a star, like Anouk Aimee
at forty, close enough.
Your pedantry found its place in the Women's Movement.
You rose fast, seen suddenly as the morning star;
wrote the ERA
found the right man at last, a sensitive artist;
flying too high
not to crash.
When the cancer caught you
you went on talk shows to say you had no fear
In Baltimore we joked on your bed as you turned into
a witty wraith.
When you died I cleaned out your bureau drawers:
your usual disorder; an assortment of gorgeous wigs
and prosthetic breasts
tossed in garbage bags, to spare your gentle spouse.
Then the bequests
you had made to every friend you had!
For each of us a necklace or a ring.
A snapshot for me:
We two, barefoot in chiffon, laughing amid blossoms
your last wedding day.
Anne Sexton |
Old man, it's four flights up and for what?
Your room is hardly bigger than your bed.
Puffing as you climb, you are a brown woodcut
stooped over the thin tail and the wornout tread.
The room will do.
All that's left of the old life
is jampacked on shelves from floor to ceiling
like a supermarket: your books, your dead wife
generously fat in her polished frame, the congealing
bowl of cornflakes sagging in their instant milk,
your hot plate and your one luxury, a telephone.
You leave your door open, lounging in maroon silk
and smiling at the other roomers who live alone.
Well, almost alone.
Through the old-fashioned wall
the fellow next door has a girl who comes to call.
Twice a week at noon during their lunch hour
they puase by your door to peer into your world.
They speak sadly as if the wine they carry would sour
or as if the mattress would not keep them curled
together, extravagantly young in their tight lock.
Old man, you are their father holding court
in the dingy hall until their alarm clock
rings and unwinds them.
You unstopper the quart
of brandy you've saved, examining the small print
in the telephone book.
The phone in your lap is all
that's left of your family name.
Like a Romanoff prince
you stay the same in your small alcove off the hall.
Castaway, your time is a flat sea that doesn't stop,
with no new land to make for and no new stories to swap.
I'm at pains to know what else I could have done
but move him out of his parish, him being my son;
him being the only one at home since his Pa
left us to beat the Japs at Okinawa.
I put the gold star up in the front window
beside the flag.
Alterations is what I know
and what I did: hems, gussets and seams.
When my boy had the fever and the bad dreams
I paid for the clinic exam and a pack of lies.
As a youngster his private parts were undersize.
I thought of his Pa, that muscly old laugh he had
and the boy was thin as a moth, but never once bad,
as smart as a rooster! To hear some neighbors tell,
Your kid! He'll go far.
He'll marry well.
So when he talked of taking the cloth, I thought
I'd talk him out of it.
You're all I got,
I told him.
For six years he studied up.
against God Himself for my boy.
But he stayed.
Christ was a hornet inside his head.
I'd better stitch the zipper in this dress.
I guess I'll get along.
I always did.
Across the hall from me's an old invalid,
aside of him, a young one -- he carries on
with a girl who pretends she comes to use the john.
The old one with the bad breath and his bed all mussed,
he smiles and talks to them.
He's got some crust.
Sure as hell, what else could I have done
but pack up and move in here, him being my son?
Dear love, as simple as some distant evil
we walk a little drunk up these three flughts
where you tacked a Dufy print above your army cot.
The thin apartment doors on the way up will
not tell us.
We are saying, we have our rights
and let them see the sandwiches and wine we bought
for we do not explain my husband's insane abuse
and we do not say why your wild-haired wife has fled
or that my father opened like a walnut and then was dead.
Your palms fold over me like knees.
Love is the only use.
Both a little drunk in the afternoon
with the forgotten smart of August on our skin
we hold hands as if we were still children who trudge
up the wooden tower, on up past that close platoon
of doors, past the dear old man who always asks us in
and the one who sews like a wasp and will not budge.
Climbing the dark halls, I ignore their papers and pails,
the twelve coats of rubbish of someone else's dim life.
Tell them need is an excuse for love.
Tell them need prevails.
Tell them I remake and smooth your bed and am your wife.
Emma Lazarus |
Oft have I brooded on defeat and pain,
The pathos of the stupid, stumbling throng.
These I ignore to-day and only long
To pour my soul forth in one trumpet strain,
One clear, grief-shattering, triumphant song,
For all the victories of man's high endeavor,
Palm-bearing, laurel deeds that live forever,
The splendor clothing him whose will is strong.
Hast thou beheld the deep, glad eyes of one
Who has persisted and achieved? Rejoice!
On naught diviner shines the all-seeing sun.
Salute him with free heart and choral voice,
'Midst flippant, feeble crowds of spectres wan,
The bold, significant, successful man.
Philip Larkin |
What do they think has happened, the old fools,
To make them like this? Do they somehow suppose
It's more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and drools,
And you keep on pissing yourself, and can't remember
Who called this morning? Or that, if they only chose,
They could alter things back to when they danced all night,
Or went to their wedding, or sloped arms some September?
Or do they fancy there's really been no change,
And they've always behaved as if they were crippled or tight,
Or sat through days of thin continuous dreaming
Watching the light move? If they don't (and they can't), it's strange;
Why aren't they screaming?
At death you break up: the bits that were you
Start speeding away from each other for ever
With no one to see.
It's only oblivion, true:
We had it before, but then it was going to end,
And was all the time merging with a unique endeavour
To bring to bloom the million-petalled flower
Of being here.
Next time you can't pretend
There'll be anything else.
And these are the first signs:
Not knowing how, not hearing who, the power
Of choosing gone.
Their looks show that they're for it:
Ash hair, toad hands, prune face dried into lines -
How can they ignore it?
Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms
Inside you head, and people in them, acting
People you know, yet can't quite name; each looms
Like a deep loss restored, from known doors turning,
Setting down a lamp, smiling from a stair, extracting
A known book from the shelves; or sometimes only
The rooms themselves, chairs and a fire burning,
The blown bush at the window, or the sun's
Faint friendliness on the wall some lonely
Rain-ceased midsummer evening.
That is where they live:
Not here and now, but where all happened once.
This is why they give
An air of baffled absence, trying to be there
Yet being here.
For the rooms grow farther, leaving
Incompetent cold, the constant wear and tear
Of taken breath, and them crouching below
Extinction's alp, the old fools, never perceiving
How near it is.
This must be what keeps them quiet:
The peak that stays in view wherever we go
For them is rising ground.
Can they never tell
What is dragging them back, and how it will end? Not at night?
Not when the strangers come? Never, throughout
The whole hideous inverted childhood? Well,
We shall find out.