The Turn

 

Στο περιγιάλι το κρυφό                                At the hidden shore
κι άσπρο σαν περιστέρι                               white like a dove
διψάσαμε το μεσημέρι                                we got withered midday
μα το νερό γλυφό                                         but the water was saline.

Πάνω στην άμμο την ξανθή                      On the light sand
γράψαμε τ όνομα της                                 we wrote her name
ωραία που φύσηξεν ο μπάτης                   nicely the breeze blew
και σβήστηκε η γραφή                               and erased the writing.

Με τι καρδιά με τι πνοή                             With such heart with such breath
τι πόθους και τι πάθος                                such desires and such passions
πήραμε τη ζωή μας λάθος!                        we misled our life!
κι αλλάξαμε ζωή.                                         and changed our life.

(“Strophe” by G. Seferis, see https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4112/george-seferis-the-art-of-poetry-no-13-george-seferis)

Our Song

 

The outlanders pursue him as if he were game.
They will kill him if he comes in force.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf is on one island; I, on another.
That island is fast, surrounded by fens.
There are fierce men on this island.
They will kill him if he comes in force.
It is otherwise with us.

My thoughts pursued Wulf like a panting hound.
Whenever it rained and I woke disconsolate
the bold warrior came: he took me in his arms.
For me, there was pleasure, but its end was loathsome.
Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your infrequent visits
have left me famished, but why should I eat?
Do you hear, Eadwacer? A she-wolf has borne
our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sunder what was never one:
our song together.

Wulf and Eadwacer (Anonymous Ballad, circa 960-990 AD)
(ref:

http://www.thehypertexts.com/Best%20Love%20Poems.htm)

 

I sang, and sang

Till I lost my voice.

If you don’t tell me that

you love me

I will never sing again.

 

Great Gentleness…

Joyless
The bargain I have made!
The heart of him I loved I wrung.

‘Twas madness
Not to do his pleasure,
Were there not the fear of Heaven’s King.

‘Twas a trifle
That wrung Curithir’s heart against me:
To him great was my gentleness.

A short while I was
In the company of Curithir:
Sweet was my intimacy with him.

The music of the forest
Would sing to me when with Curithir,
Together with the voice of the purple sea.

Would that
Nothing of all I have done
Should have wrung his heart against me!

Conceal it not!
He was my heart’s love,
Whatever else I might love.

A roaring flame
Has dissolved this heart of mine—
Without him for certain it cannot live.

 

REF: LIADIN AND CURITHIR (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32030/32030-h/32030-h.htm)

Arrows

 

These are arrows that murder sleep
At every hour in the bitter-cold night:
Pangs of love throughout the day
For the company of the man from Roiny.
Great love of a man from another land
Has come to me beyond all else:
It has taken my bloom, no colour is left,
It does not let me rest.
Sweeter than songs was his speech,
Save holy adoration of Heaven’s King;
He was a glorious flame, no boastful word fell from his lips,
A slender mate for a maid’s side.
………
(In the battle of Aidne, Crede, the daughter of King Guare of Aidne, beheld Dinertach of the Hy Fidgenti, who had come to the help of Guare, with seventeen wounds upon his breast. Then she fell in love with him. He died, and was buried in the cemetery of Colman’s Church.”

Regret

AH, Circe, Circe! in the wood we cried;
Ah, Circe, Circe! but no voice replied;
No voice from bowers o’ergrown and ruinous
As fallen rocks upon the mountain side.

There was no sound of singing in the air;
Failed or fled the maidens that were fair,
No more for sorrow or joy were seen of us,
No light of laughing eyes, or floating hair.

The perfume, and the music, and the flame
Had passed away; the memory of shame
Alone abode, and stings of faint desire,
And pulses of vague quiet went and came.

Ah, Circe! in thy sad changed fairy place,
Our dead Youth came and looked on us a space,
With drooping wings, and eyes of faded fire,
And wasted hair about a weary face.

Why had we ever sought the magic isle
That seemed so happy in the days erewhile?
Why did we ever leave it, where we met
A world of happy wonders in one smile?

Back to the westward and the waning light
We turned, we fled; the solitude of night
Was better than the infinite regret,
In fallen places of our dead delight.

Source: http://www.online-literature.com/andrew_lang/grass-of-parnassus/21/

I have a Daughter,Cleis

I have a small
daughter called
Cleis, who is
like a golden
flower
I wouldn’t
take all Croesus’
kingdom with love
thrown in, for her

Don’t ask me what to wear
I have no embroidered
headband from Sardis to
give you, Cleis, such as
I wore
and my mother
always said that in her
day a purple ribbon
looped in the hair was thought
to be high style indeed

but we were dark:
a girl
whose hair is yellower than
torchlight should wear no
headdress but fresh flowers

–by Sappho- (630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE)

–Translated by Mary Barnard

–Source:  gopher://gopher.OCF.Berkeley.EDU:70/
00/Library/Poetry/Sappho/sappho.Cleis

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/sappho.html

Sound

To those who were left behind

In cold foreign lands

By their compatriots

By their friends

By their sons

The sound  of this wind

Around you

Is the sound of my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Rouge

Immense et rouge

Au-dessus du Grand Palais
Le soleil d’hiver apparaît
Et disparaît
Comme lui mon coeur va disparaître
Et tout mon sang va s’en aller
S’en aller à ta recherche
Mon amour
Ma beauté
Et te trouver
Là où tu es.

by J. Prevert

 

Immense and red
Above the Grand Palais
The winter sun appears
And disappears
The way my heart will disappear
And all my blood will go
Will go to look for you
My love
My beauty
And find you
There  wherever  you are.

 

This One

Thirty seven years approaching

already ripped pages of my life

by this time white pieces of hair have grown,

Xanthippei *, discreet announcers of age

regadless, chattery psalms in the head are chanting

and a relentless fire  is burning the heart-

but for this coronida** quickly write about, Muses,

this one, my rulers, overthrows your madness.

 

 

*Xanthippe was an ancient Athenian (of supposedly argumentative nature), the wife of pholosopher Socrates, and mother of their three sons: Lamprocles, Sophroniscus, and Menexenus.

 

**coronida (singular)-THE two KORONIDES (or Coronides) were two nymph daughters of the constellation-giant Orion. When the land of Boiotia (Boeotia) was struck by pestilence and drought they voluntarily offered themselves up as sacrifice to the gods, bashing out their own brains with shuttles. Persephone in pity then turned them into comets.

The name Koronides was associated with the Greek words korônis, “curving one” or “comet” and korônê “the shuttle” and “the crow.”

 

Original:

Philodemus-Xanthipi

 

                                                                           (AP XI.41)

By Philodemus 110-30BC.

(see Index scholarum in Universitate Litteraria Gryphiswaldensi

-Philodemus, Georg Kaibel)

 

 

Philodemus of Gadara (ca. 110–ca. 30 BC) “was an Epicurean philosopher and epigrammatist who, having studied in the Epicurean school …”http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philodemus )

 

Drenched in Fragance…

J’ai voulu ce matin te rapporter des roses ;
Mais j’en avais tant pris dans mes ceintures closes
Que les noeuds trop serrés n’ont pu les contenir.

Les noeuds ont éclaté. Les roses envolées
Dans le vent, à la mer s’en sont toutes allées.
Elles ont suivi l’eau pour ne plus revenir.

La vague en a paru rouge et comme enflammée.
Ce soir, ma robe en est toute embaumée.
Respires-en sur moi l’odorant souvenir.

( Les Roses de Saadi,

by  Marceline Desbordes-Valmore)

Epigrammatic

No pleasure is sweeter than love; other joys, are all

second to it ; even the honey from my mouth I spit out.

This is what Nossis says: whoever did not love Kypris,

does not know her blossoms what kind of roses are.

(PALAT. ANT. BOOK V – 170–Epigram by Nossis about 400 BC )

῞Αδιον οὐδὲν ἔρωτος· ἃ δ’ ὄλβια, δεύτερα πάντα
ἐστίν· ὰπὸ στόματος δ’ ἔπτυσα καὶ τὸ μέλι.
Τοῦτο λέγει Νοσσίς· τίνα δ’ ἁ Κύπρις οὐκ ἐφίλασεν,
οὐκ οἶδεν κήνα γ’ ἅνθεα ποῖα ῥόδα.

http://www.locriantica.it/english/figures/nossis.htm

Opening

The piano kissed by a delicate hand

Gleams distantly in rose-grey evening

While with a wingtips’ weightless sound

A fine old tune, so fragile, charming

Roams discreetly, almost trembling,

Through the chamber She’s long perfumed.

What is this sudden cradle song

That gradually lulls my poor being?

What do you want of me, playful one?

What do you wish, slight vague refrain

Drifting now, dying, towards the window

Opening a little on a patch of garden?

The Piano Kissed..by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/French/SelectedFrenchPoemsoftheNineteenthCentury.htm

Impulse

My hearts races
When I think of you, love.
It throws ‘normal’ out the window
and leaps out of its place.
It won’t let me get dressed,
or put on a scarf,
I can’t do my eye-shadow,
or even rub on my oils.
“Go there now!” it insists
whenever he comes to mind.
Don’t be an idiot, heart,
are you out of your mind?
Be patient, be still, the brother will come.
There are eyes everywhere, you know!
I don’t want people saying,
“Love did this woman in.”
Keep calm when thinking of him.
Heart, stop racing

—–               —–

My heart flutters hastily,
When I think of my love of you;
It lets me not act sensibly,
It leaps from its place.
It lets me not put on a dress,
Nor wrap my scarf around me;
I put no paint upon my eyes,
I’m even not anointed.
“Don’t wait, go there,” says it to me,
As often as I think of him;
My heart, don’t act so stupidly,
Why do you play the fool?
Sit still, the brother comes to you,
And many eyes as well.
Let not the people say of me:
“A woman fallen through love!”
Be steady when you think of him,
My heart, do not flutter!

Ancient Egyptian Poem

Fourth Stanza, from Papyrus Chester Beatty I

Refs:

http://jewishchristianlit.com/Texts/ANEmrg/pBeatty.html

http://www.humanistictexts.org/egyptlov.htm#My%20Heart%20Flutters%20Hastily

Distant

“for the wealth of golden Gygeo* I do not care

nor I have envy, nor I am blinded by

gifts of gods, high authority does not impress me

they are all distant from my eyes”

(* King of Lydia (about 687-652 BC))

ARHILOHOS

Original:

«οὔ μοι τὰ Γύγεω* τοῦ πολυχρύσου μέλει,
οὐδ᾽ εἷλέ πώ με ζῆλος, οὐδ᾽ ἀγαίομαι
θεῶν ἔργα, μεγάλης δ᾽ οὐκ ἐρέω τυραννίδος·
ἀπόπροθεν γάρ ἐστιν ὀφθαλμῶν ἐμῶν.»

*Βασιλιάς της Λυδίας (περ. 687-652 π.Χ.),

ΑΡΧΙΛΟΧΟΣ

http://www.greek-language.gr/digitalResources/ancient_greek/anthology/literature/browse.html?text_id=33

To Aphrodite

Child of the great Zeus, World beauty,

Immortal Aphrodite!  Everything bows to you.

No pains, No sorrows! Torment me not

With deceptions of desire!

Ancient Greek-poems-2-Aphrodite

by Sappho (625-570BC)

Love and Friendship

“Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree —
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most contantly?
The wild-rose briar is sweet in the spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who wil call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He may still leave thy garland green.”

by Emily Bronte

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/novel_19c/wuthering/index.html

Archer

“What is god, what is not god, and what is in between?”

————-

“Lyric nightingale,

on a night like this, by the shore of Proteus,
the Spartan slave-girls heard you and began their lament,
and among them — who would have believed it? — Helen!
She whom we hunted so many years by the banks of the Scamander.
She was there, at the desert’s lip; I touched her; she spoke to me:
‘It isn’t true, it isn’t true,’ she cried.
‘I didn’t board the blue bowed ship.
I never went to valiant Troy.’
Breasts girded high, the sun in her hair, and that stature
shadows and smiles everywhere,
on shoulders, thighs and knees;
the skin alive, and her eyes
with the large eyelids,
she was there, on the banks of a Delta.
                                                         And at Troy?
At Troy, nothing: just a phantom image.
That’s how the gods wanted it.
And Paris, Paris lay with a shadow as though it were a solid being;
and for ten whole years we slaughtered ourselves for Helen.”
from “Eleni” by Giorgos Seferis  ( http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1963/seferis-bio.html)
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/181856

[My life, I love you]

[My life, I love you]

Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh, give me back my heart!
Or, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now, and take the rest!
Hear my vow before I go,
[My life, I love you]

By those tresses unconfined,
Woo’d by each Aegean wind;
By those lids whose jetty fringe
Kiss thy soft cheeks’ blooming tinge;
By those wild eyes like the roe,
[My life, I love you]

By that lip I long to taste;
By that zone-encircled waist;
By all the token-flowers that tell
What words can never speak so well;
By love’s alternate joy and woe,
[My life, I love you]…..

George Gordon Byron (1788 – 1824)

Title: Maid Of Athens, Ere We Part

What are we waiting for

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeleyand Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition.

Princeton University Press, 1992)

 

Print
— Why are we come together in the market place?

Barbarians are expected here to-day.

— Why in the Senate-house this inactivity —
why sit the Senators and do not legislate?

Because barbarians are to come to-day
What laws should they make now — the Senators?
Presently the barbarians will make laws.

— Why has our Emperor risen close upon the sun —
why is he waiting there, by the main city-gates,
seated upon the throne, — august, wearing the crown?

Because barbarians are to come to-day
And so the Emperor in person waits
to greet their leader. He has even prepared
a title-deed, on skin of Pergamus,
in favour of this leader. It confers
high rank on the barbarian, many names.

— Why do our consuls and the praetors go about
in scarlet togas fretted with embroidery;
why are they wearing bracelets rife with amethysts,
and rings magnificent with glowing emeralds;
why are they holding those invaluable staffs
inlaid so cunningly with silver and with gold?

Because barbarians are to come to-day;
and the barbarians marvel at such things.

— Why come not, as they use, our able orators
to hold forth in their rhetoric, to have their say?

Because barbarians are to come to-day;
and the barbarians have no taste for words.

— Why this confusion all at once, and nervousness:
(how serious of a sudden the faces have become):
why are the streets and meeting-places emptying,
and all the people lost in thought as they turn home?

Because the daylight fails, and the night comes,
but the barbarians come not. And there be
who from the frontier have arrived and said
that there are barbarians now at all.

And now what shall become of us without barbarians?
These people were in sooth some sort of settlement.

Translated by John Cavafy
(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)

The barbarians are supposed to show up today.

Why is there such indolence in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting around, making no laws?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today.
Why should the senators trouble themselves with laws?
When the barbarians arrive, they’ll do the legislating.

Why has our emperor risen so early this morning,
and why is he now enthroned at the city’s great gate,
sitting there in state and wearing his crown?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today.
And the emperor is waiting there to receive
their leader. He’s even had a parchment scroll
prepared as a tribute: it’s loaded with
all sorts of titles and high honors.

Why have our two consuls and praetors turned up
today, resplendent in their red brocaded togas;
why are they wearing bracelets encrusted with amethysts,
and rings studded with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they sporting those priceless canes,
the ones of finely-worked gold and silver?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today;
And such things really dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our illustrious speakers come out to speak
as they always do, to speak what’s on their minds?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today,
and they really can’t stand lofty oration and demagogy.

Why is everyone so suddenly ill at ease
and confused (just look how solemn their faces are)?
Why are the streets and the squares all at once empty,
as everyone heads for home, lost in their thoughts?

Because it’s night now, and the barbarians haven’t shown up.
And there are others, just back from the borderlands,
who claim that the barbarians no longer exist.

What in the world will we do without barbarians?
Those people would have been a solution, of sorts.

Translated by Stratis Haviaras
(C.P. Cavafy, The Canon. Translated from the Greek

by Stratis Haviaras, Hermes Publishing, 2004)

 

The original (in Greek)

Τι περιμένουμε στην αγορά συναθροισμένοι;

Είναι οι βάρβαροι να φθάσουν σήμερα.

— Γιατί μέσα στην Σύγκλητο μια τέτοια απραξία;
Τι κάθοντ’ οι Συγκλητικοί και δεν νομοθετούνε;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Τι νόμους πια θα κάμουν οι Συγκλητικοί;
Οι βάρβαροι σαν έλθουν θα νομοθετήσουν.

—Γιατί ο αυτοκράτωρ μας τόσο πρωί σηκώθη,
και κάθεται στης πόλεως την πιο μεγάλη πύλη
στον θρόνο επάνω, επίσημος, φορώντας την κορώνα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Κι ο αυτοκράτωρ περιμένει να δεχθεί
τον αρχηγό τους. Μάλιστα ετοίμασε
για να τον δώσει μια περγαμηνή. Εκεί
τον έγραψε τίτλους πολλούς κι ονόματα.

— Γιατί οι δυο μας ύπατοι κ’ οι πραίτορες εβγήκαν
σήμερα με τες κόκκινες, τες κεντημένες τόγες·
γιατί βραχιόλια φόρεσαν με τόσους αμεθύστους,
και δαχτυλίδια με λαμπρά, γυαλιστερά σμαράγδια·
γιατί να πιάσουν σήμερα πολύτιμα μπαστούνια
μ’ ασήμια και μαλάματα έκτακτα σκαλιγμένα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα·
και τέτοια πράγματα θαμπώνουν τους βαρβάρους.

—Γιατί κ’ οι άξιοι ρήτορες δεν έρχονται σαν πάντα
να βγάλουνε τους λόγους τους, να πούνε τα δικά τους;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα·
κι αυτοί βαρυούντ’ ευφράδειες και δημηγορίες.

— Γιατί ν’ αρχίσει μονομιάς αυτή η ανησυχία
κ’ η σύγχυσις. (Τα πρόσωπα τι σοβαρά που εγίναν).
Γιατί αδειάζουν γρήγορα οι δρόμοι κ’ η πλατέες,
κι όλοι γυρνούν στα σπίτια τους πολύ συλλογισμένοι;

Γιατί ενύχτωσε κ’ οι βάρβαροι δεν ήλθαν.
Και μερικοί έφθασαν απ’ τα σύνορα,
και είπανε πως βάρβαροι πια δεν υπάρχουν.

__

Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους.
Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.

(Από τα Ποιήματα 1897-1933)  

“at least our imagination, which perpetually figures them to us by the desire we have of seeing them again, makes us think so. By a peculiar power love can make that seem life itself which, as soon as the loved object returns, is nothing but a little canvas and flat colour. I have your picture in my room; I never pass it without stopping to look at it; and yet when you are present with me I scarce ever cast my eyes on it. If a picture, which is but a mute representation of an object, can give such pleasure, what cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions, they can raise them as much as if the persons themselves were present; they have all the tenderness and the delicacy of speech, and sometimes even a boldness of expression beyond it.”

Heloise to Abelard, Letter II, p.25 (1901)

http://sacred-texts.com/chr/aah/index.htm

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/40227

 

“My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

 

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

 

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

 

Without sharp north, without declining west?

 

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;

 

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I

 

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.”

 

“My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.”
The Good-Morrow
by John Donne  1572-1631
 http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/john-donne

sirines

“Beside a golden sanded bay
We saw the Sirens, very fair
The flowery hill whereon they lay,
The flowers set upon their hair.
Their old sweet song came down the wind,
Remembered music waxing strong,
Ah now no need of cords to bind,
No need had we of Orphic song.

It once had seemed a little thing,
To lay our lives down at their feet,
That dying we might hear them sing,
And dying see their faces sweet;
But now, we glanced, and passing by,
No care had we to tarry long;
Faint hope, and rest, and memory
Were more than any Siren’s song.”

 

THEY HEAR THE SIRENS FOR THE SECOND TIME

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext97/blpof10h.htm

 

Aften

postcard“I aften wish that eence again
The weary road I’ve traivell’t

Wis mine tae tread, I’d hae things fit

Withoot mischance or guessin’;

My ships wad safely mak’the port,

My webs be never raivell’t,

An’ a’d be for the best – I wish,

An faur’s the hairm in wishin’? ”

 

(by “Turlundie”-Scottish poet

http://www.rampantscotland.com/poetry/blpoems_wish.htm)

Twice

“You took my heart in your hand
With a friendly smile,
With a critical eye you scanned,
Then set it down,
And said: It is still unripe,
Better wait a while;
Wait while the skylarks pipe,
Till the corn grows brown

As you set it down it broke-
Broke, but I did not wince;
I smiled at the speech you spoke,
At your judgment that I heard:
But I have not often smiled
Since then, nor questioned since,
Nor cared for corn-flowers wild,
Nor sung with the singing bird.”

by Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/crossetti/harrison2/4.6.html

 

Tidings

My tidings for you: the stag bells,

Winter snows, summer is gone.

Wind high and cold, low the sun,

Short his course, sea running high.

Deep-red the bracken, its shape all gone—

The wild-goose has raised his wonted cry.

Cold has caught the wings of birds;

Season of ice—these are my tidings.

(old Irish poem “Summer is gone”

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32030/32030-h/32030-h.htm#Page_56)

fall013-2

Three poems

In Paris

 

Starlit houses, and sky below,

Earth dazed in the nearness.

The same secret longing though

In Paris, so vast and joyous.

 

The evening boulevards noisy,

The last ray of light dies,

Couples, paired round me,

Fierce lips, insolent eyes.

 

I’m alone. It’s sweet to rest

My head on a chestnut tree.

As in far Moscow, my breast

Throbs to Rostand’s poetry.

 

Paris at night, painful strangeness,

Dear the heart’s ancient folly!

I’m going back to violets, sadness,

A portrait of someone kind to me.

 

There that gaze, pensive, a brother,

There that mild profile, on the wall.

Rostand, L’Aiglon that martyr,

And Sarah – in dream I find them all!

 

In Paris, so vast and joyous,

I dream of clouds and grass,

Laughter, shadows, ominous,

And the pain that will not pass.

 

Paris, June 1909.

Marina Tsvetaeva

(Note: Rostand’s play L’Aiglon concerns the unhappy life of the Duke of Reichstadt, the son of Napoleon I and Marie Louise, lived under the surveillance of Metternich at the Schönbrunn Palace. The drama was produced, on the 15th March 1900, by Sarah Bernhardt, at her own theatre, she herself playing the part of the Duke.

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Russian/Tsvetaeva.htm#_Toc254018895)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

‘To kiss the brow – eases anxiety.’

 

To kiss the brow-eases all anxiety.

I kiss the brow.

 

To kiss the eyes – cures insomnia’s misery.

I kiss the eyes.

 

To kiss the lips – one’s no longer thirsty.

I kiss the lips.

 

To kiss the brow – erases memory.

I kiss the brow.

 

                                                  5th June 1917.

Marina Tsvetaeva

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

‘Go, find yourself naïve lovers, they’

 

Go, find yourself naïve lovers, they

Won’t correct marvels by number.

I know that Venus was – hand made,

I’m a craftsman, with craft encumbered.

From the highest solemnity, dumb,

To the soul almost trampled to death,

Here’s the whole celestial stair – from

My breathing – to: not one breath!

 

                                                  18th June 1922

Marina Tsvetaeva

Paris de Nuit…

 

Paris de Nuit

Trois allumettes une à une allumées dans la nuit
La première pour voir ton visage tout entier
La seconde pour voir tes yeux
La dernière pour voir ta bouche
Et l’obscuritè tout entière pour me rappeler tout cela
En te serrant dans mes bras.

Three matches lit one by one in the night
The first to see your face in its entirety
The second to see your eyes
The last to see your mouth
And the darkness all around to remind me of all of them
As I take you in my arms.

Cyprian

 
“This is the site of the Cyprian, since it is agreeable to her

to look ever from the mainland upon the bright sea

that she may make the voyage good for sailors. Around her the sea

trembles looking upon her polished image”.

(by Anyte of Tegea)

 

Κύπριδος οὗτος ὁ χῶρος, ἐπεὶ φίλον ἔπλετο τήναι

αἰὲν ἀπ᾽ ἠπείρου λαμπρὸν ὁρῆν πέλαγος,

ὄφρα φίλον ναύτηισι τελῆι πλόον· ἀμφὶ δὲ πόντος

δειμαίνει λιπαρὸν δερκόμενος ζόανον.

 

Anyte of Tegea (Greek: Ἀνύτη; fl. early 3rd century BC) was an Arcadian poet,

admired for her epigrams and epitaphs.

http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/graeca/Chronologia/S_ante03/Anyte/any_epi.html

 

 

Noble Form

I live upon this wretched solitary cliff

Like a bird of sorrow that shuns green

Branches and clear water: and withdraw

From my worldly loves, and my very self,

So my thoughts may fly swiftly to that sun

I worship and adore. And though they fail

To spread their wings as I wish, yet if I call

Still they fly back from other paths to this.

And in the instant that they reach the place,

Where I send them, ardent, happy, their brief joy

Surpasses every delight on Earth by far.

And if they could but re-create his noble

Form, just as the burning mind desires,

I might own my portion of perfect good.

by Vittoria Colonna (1490-1547)
Translated by A. S. Kline

N’écris pas

“N’écris pas – N’apprenons qu’à mourir à nous-mêmes
Ne demande qu’à Dieu … qu’à toi, si je t’aimais !
Au fond de ton silence écouter que tu m’aimes,
C’est entendre le ciel sans y monter jamais
N’écris pas ! ”

by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859)

“Do not write – Let us learn for ourselves how to die.
Ask only God… and to yourself if I loved you!
In your absence’s depth to hear that you love me
Is to hear heaven without ever getting there.
Do not write! ”

Translated by Thomas D. Le in 2007
http://thehuuvandan.org/lit.html#valmore

 

I know

 

I know not whether thou has been absent:
I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee,
In my dreams thou art with me.
If my eardrops tremble in my ears,
I know it is thou moving within my heart.

 

Aztec Indian Wedding Poem

http://www.documentsanddesigns.com/verse/Native_American_wedding_vows.htm#t2

 

Cet amour

Cet amour
Si violent
Si fragile
Si tendre
Si désespéré
Cet amour
Beau comme le jour
Et mauvais comme le temps
Quand le temps est mauvais
Cet amour si vrai
Cet amour si beau
Si heureux
Si joyeux
Et si dérisoire
Tremblant de peur comme un enfant dans le noir

Et si sûr de lui
Comme un homme tranquille au milieu de la nuit    …

 

by Jacques Prevert (4 February 1900 – 11 April 1977 ).

 

This love
So violent
So fragile
So tender
So hopeless
This love
Beautiful as the day
And bad as the weather
When the weather is bad
This love so true
This love so beautiful
So happy
So joyous
And so pathetic
Trembling with fear like a child in the dark

And so sure of itself
Like a tranquil man in the middle of the night…

Lyre

I, too, wish to sing of heroic deeds
(about the Atreides, and about Kadmus),
but the lyre’s strings
can only produce sounds of love.
Recently, I changed the strings,
and then the lyre itself,
and tried to sing of the feats of Hercules,
but still the lyre kept singing songs of love.
So, fare well, you heroes!
because my lyre sings only songs of love.

 

by Anacreon (570 BC – 488 BC)
a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns.
Anacreon wrote all of his poetry in the ancient Ionic dialect.

 

Original text:
ΘΕΛΩ ΛΕΓΕΙΝ ΑΤΡΕΙΔΑΣ,
ΘΕΛΩ ΔΕ ΚΑΔΜΟΝ ΑΙΔΕΙΝ,
Ο ΒΑΡΒΙΤΟΣ ΔΕ ΧΟΡΔΑΙΣ
ΕΡΩΤΑ ΜΟΥΝΟΝ ΗΧΕΙ.
ΗΜΕΙΨΑ ΝΕΥΡΑ ΠΡΩΗΝ
ΚΑΙ ΤΗΝ ΛΥΡΗΝ ΑΠΑΣΑΝ·
ΚΑΓΩ ΜΕΝ ΗΙΔΟΝ ΑΘΛΟΥΣ ΗΡΑΚΛΕΟΥΣ,
ΛΥΡΗ ΔΕ ΕΡΩΤΑΣ ΑΝΤΕΦΩΝΕΙ.
ΧΑΙΡΟΙΤΕ ΛΟΙΠΟΝ ΗΜΙΝ, ΗΡΩΕΣ·
Η ΛΥΡΗ ΓΑΡ ΜΟΝΟΥΣ ΕΡΩΤΑΣ ΑΙΔΕΙ.

Wind

This wind is

Coming fiercely

Slipping away

Turning around

Wrapping me softly

Leaving me

Breathless

Like your love.

 

All at once

I live, I die: I burn, I drown,
Amidst the cold, heat strikes me down
Too soft and too hard my life is to me
My great sorrows are mixed with glee.

All at once I laugh and I cry
And I endure great torment in pleasure.
My happiness flees, but lasts forever.
All at once I wilt and I thrive.

Thus inconstant love torments me.
Just as I think my pain has worsened
Without thinking so I am trouble-free.

Then when I believe my joy is certain
With happiness I so craved it fills me,
And sets me back to my first misfortune.

by Louise Labé (1524-1566)

Je vis, je meurs : je me brûle et me noie – I live, I die; I burn, I drown. (Sonnet VIII)
http://thehuuvandan.org/lit.html#labe

 

Enchanted

 

The earth trembled as you passed by,
     Turning everything sacred as you walked.

And you set your blue eyes upon me for the first time,
     speaking at me with the depth of the night
          …like a nightingale who doesn’t need its wings to fly.
What a blessing it is to be worthy of your look.

I have seen rain on the desert,
      and all impossible things coming true.

All of my prayers carry your name.
      I wish to be pure so that I can desire you.

Take me as you will.
Your slave…

 

 

Ancient Egyptian love poem from the Middle Kingtom  (1991-1668 BCE)

 

Invisible

“It seems that somewhere people are celebrating;
although there are no houses or human beings
I can listen to guitars and other laughters which
are not nearby

Maybe far away, within the ashes of heavens
Andromeda, the Bear, or the Virgin…

I wonder; is loneliness the same, all over the
worlds ? ”

 

By Odysseas Elytis, Calendar of an invisible April-
http://www-hpcc.astro.washington.edu/faculty/marios/Poems/elytis/

Helen’s Return

Come, eternal Pair [1],
Come, Twin Brethren, from your heaven ascended;
Down the steep of air
Drive, by many a starry glance attended!
‘Mid the waters white and blue,
‘Mid the rolling waves be there,
And brotherly bring safe your sister through.
Airs from heaven, serene and pure,
Breathe upon her; bless and speed;
Breathe away her cruel shame!
Never he did Paris lure,
Never won her (as they rede)
Of Aphrodite for his meed,
Nor thither led, where never yet she came!

1 Castor and Pollux, brothers of Helen, set in the heavens as the constellation of the Twins and supposed to be propitious to mariners.

 

http://www.poetry-archive.com/e/helens_return_to_greece.html#A5tityGXFXXHALMy.99

Sufficiency

If I am happy or unhappy I do not give thought to

Except one thing that with pleasure I bring always in my mind

That in the big addition (their addition that I despise)

With so many numbers, I am not there

Among the many entities one. In the total amount

I was not appraised. And this pleasure suffices me.

 

(Translation : Prosthesis, Kavafis-1877-1923;

http://www.kavafis.gr/poems/content.asp?id=238&cat=4)

Will they?

“If I know a song of Africa,

of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back,

of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces

of the coffee pickers,

does Africa know a song of me?

 

Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on,

or the children invent a game in which my name is,

or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me,

or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”

 

From OUT OF AFRICA by Isak Dinesen (1885-1962), chapter titled “Kamante and Lulu,” page 83.

 

 

Sweet Things

“Sweet evenings come and go, love,
They came and went of yore:
This evening of our life, love,
Shall go and come no more.

When we have passed away, love,
All things will keep their name;
But yet no life on earth, love,
With ours will be the same.

The daisies will be there, love,
The stars in heaven will shine:
I shall not feel thy wish, love,
Nor thou my hand in thine. ”

by George Eliot -i.e. Mary Anne (alternatively Mary Ann or Marian) Evans, an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era..

She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously…
http://www.poemhunter.com/george-eliot-2/

 

Prompt

As long as you live, be bright

Don’t be sorrowful;

Short is life

The end time requires.

 

(Seikilos epitaph-200BC)

 

Tant que tu vis, brille !

Ne t’afflige absolument de rien !

La vie ne dure guère.

Le temps exige son tribut.

 

The following is a transliteration of the original words of the Seikilos epitaph which are sung to the beautiful melody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUkabSGrK7I

Hoson zēs, phainou

Mēden holōs sy lypou;

Pros oligon esti to zēn

To telos ho chronos apaitei

 

“The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, near Ephesus (in today’s Turkey). The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around AD 100.

Also on the tombstone is an indication that states:

“I am a tombstone, an icon.

Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of

deathless remembrance”.

While older music with notation exists (for example the Delphic Hymns), all of it is in fragments; the Seikilos epitaph is unique in that it is a complete, though short, composition”.

Seikilos

I have a daughter

“I have a daughter, golden,

Beautiful, like a flower –

Kleis, my love –

And I would not exchange her for

All the riches of Lydia……”

Sappho
(Original, on papyrus)

Ἕστι μοι κάλα πάισ χρυσίοισιν ἀνθέμοισιν
ἐμφέρην ἔχοισα μόρφαν, Κλῆισ ἀγαπάτα,
ἀντι τᾶσ ἔγω οὐδὲ Λυδίαν παῖσαν οὐδ᾽ ἔρανναν.”

(Original, in ancient Greek, Sappho ~630-570BC)

“E?’sti moi ka’la pa’is xrusi’oisin a?nðe’moisin
e?mfe’rhn e?’xoisa mo’rfan, Klh^is a?gapa’ta,
a?nti ta^s e?’gw ou?de` Ludi’an pai^san ou?d? e?’rannan.”

(Original, transcription)

References:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/usappho/sph83.htm

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/sappho.html

Emptiness

I have not been able

to replace you

with no one

not because you are irreplaceable

simply because from one love to another

there is always some emptiness.

(translation of a poem by Dinos Christianopoulos, 1982)

 

 

 

Sunday

Dimanche

Entre les rangees d’arbres de l’avenue des Gobelins

Une statue de marbre me conduit par la main

Aujourd’ hui c’est dimanche les cinemas sont pleins

Les oiseaux dans les branches regardent les humains

Et la statue m’embrasse mais personne ne nous voit

Sauf un enfant aveugle qui nous montre du doigt.

(by Jacques Prevert)

 

Sunday

Among the tree lines of Gobelins Avenue

A statue is holding my hand guiding me

Today is Sunday cinemas are busy

The birds in the branches are observing the people

And the statue is kissing me though no one can see us

A blind child only is pointing at us with his finger.

Like The Wind

‘Love shook my heart’

Love shook my heart,

Like the  wind on the mountain

Troubling  the oak-trees.

(by Sappho)

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Greek/Sappho.htm

Picture_lemnos_2010_CK 125

Crossroads

Moment sent by a hand

that I had so much loved

you reached me almost at dusk

like a black dove

The road shone before me

soft breath of sleep

at the end of a secret feast…

Moment grain of sand

that you alone kept

the tragic clepsydra whole

silent as though it had seen Hydra

in the heavenly orchard

(by Giorgos Seferis)

 

 

http://authormanolis.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/the-great-george-seferis-poems-in-greek-and-english/#1A

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4112/the-art-of-poetry-no-13-george-seferis

 

Reeling

One Night

The room was poor and shabby, a secret room above
the dubious tavern. From the window could be seen
dark shadows moving in a squalid narrow lane;
and from below came voices of town labourers
who now were loud at cards now voiced their jollity
with wanton song or joke, and called for drinks between.

And there — on the plebeian, unattractive bed
I had possession of the glowing body of love,
I had the inebriating lips voluptuously red —
the full red lips of such an inebriety
that even now, after so many eventful years,
writing thereof in my lone house, I reel again.

Translated by John Cavafy
(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)

http://www.cavafy.com/poems/content.asp?id=211&cat=1

I have a need

I have a need for your voice,
a longing for your company,
and an ache of melancholy
for the absence of signs of arrival.
Patience requires my torment,
the urgent need for you, heron of love,
your solar mercy for my frozen day,
your help, for my wound, I count on.
Ah, need, ache and longing!
Your kisses of substance, my food,
fail me, and I’m dying with the May.
I want you to come, the flower of your absence,
to calm the brow of thought
that ruins me with its eternal lightning.

by Miguel Hernandez

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