“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

 

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Golden

“A man had a hen that laid a golden egg for him each and every day.

The man was not satisfied with this daily profit, and instead he foolishly grasped for more.

Expecting to find a treasure inside, the man slaughtered the hen.

When he found that the hen did not have a treasure inside her after all,

he remarked to himself, ‘While chasing after hopes of a treasure,

I lost the profit I held in my hands!’

–Aesop’s Fables (Chambry edition), Index Chambry 287 = Perry 87

 

Ὄρνιν τις εἶχε καλὴν χρυσᾶ ὠὰ τίκτουσαν· νομίσας δὲ ἔνδον αὐτῆς ὄγκον χρυσίου εἶναι καὶ θύσας εὗρεν οὖσαν ὁμοίαν τῶν λοιπῶν ὀρνίθων. Ὁ δὲ ἀθρόον πλοῦτον ἐλπίσας εὑρεῖν καὶ τοῦ μικροῦ κέρδους ἐστερήθη. Ὅτι τοῖς παροῦσιν ἀρκείσθω τις καὶ τὴν ἀπληστίαν φευγέτω.”

Aesop

(Hellenistic statue claimed to depict Aesop, Art Collection of Villa Albani, Rome)

Αἴσωπος, Aisōpos, (620–564 BC). Greek historian Herodotus claimed that Aesop (c. 620-560 BC) was a slave first owned by Xanthus on Isle of Samos and later by Iadmon who gave him freedom because he was such a skilled storyteller (Herodotus, Waterfield & Dewald,1998).

http://www.researchgate.net/…/02e7e535e6dc2bb7f6000000

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Silk Road Fables:  http://www.amnh.org/ology/features/silkroadfables/

 

DieSeidenstrasseSilkRoad

In 1877 the term “Seidenstraße” (Die Seidenstrassen, literally “Silk Road”) was coined by the German geographer, cartographer and explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen (http://www.silkroutes.net/orient/mapssilkroutestrade.htm).

 

On the history of “Silk Road”:  http://www.ancient.eu.com/Silk_Road/

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

 

 

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

 

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

Canceled

You Who Never Arrived

 

You who never arrived in my arms, Beloved, who were lost from the start, I don’t even know what songs would please you. I have given up trying to recognize you in the surging wave of the next moment. All the immense images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and unsuspected turns in the path, and those powerful lands that were once pulsing with the life of the gods– all rise within me to mean you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all the gardens I have ever gazed at, longing. An open window in a country house– , and you almost stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced upon,– you had just walked down them and vanished. And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us yesterday, separate, in the evening…

(by Rainer Maria Rilke)

                                 torso of apollo

 

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared. Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur: would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.

(by Rainer Maria Rilke)

 

 

 

poem

 

 

Amorous…

100_1888

BALLADS OF FOUR SEASONS: SUMMER

On Mirror Lake outspread for miles and miles,
The lotus lilies in full blossom teem.
In fifth moon Xi Shi gathers them with smiles,
Watchers o’erwhelm the bank of Yuoye Stream.
Her boat turns back without waiting moonrise
To yoyal house amid amorous sighs.

(by Li Po)

http://www.shigeku.org/xlib/lingshidao/hanshi/libai.htm

Compass

I am walking barefoot on an endless white beach. Suddenly the water keeps rising and covers every piece of land. Now I am walking in the water. I can feel the sand with my feet but I cannot see it. I have to find my way out of the water. I have to swim. Which way did I come here? I have to remember.

I am walking barefoot in my sun filled apartment. Suddenly the walls of the rooms are disappearing. Now I am walking from room to room. I can feel the doors that I close behind me but I cannot see them. I have to close all the doors. I can start over. Which way did I come here? I have to remember.

I am walking barefoot in your charming eyes. Suddenly I am hearing a crying woman. Now I am walking among crying women. I can feel their feelings but I cannot see them. I have to find my way out of your eyes. I have to run. Which way did I come here? I have to remember.

Victoria

There was a house at the end of our street behind tall willow trees.
As a child I used to walk by that house every day on my way to school.
All I could ever see was an old lady dressed in black clothes,
cooking in her kitchen. Once I asked my mother “Are there witches?”.
“ No!” she said. “Now go get your father, our dinner is ready”.
At that time I was convinced that the old lady was a witch,
teaching magic to the young girl who was always standing besides her.
Why else was my mother so reluctant to talk about them?

After a long time I tried again: “Who lives at the house with the tall
willow trees?” “Victoria. Now don’t you have any homework to do?”,
was the reply I got that time. By then Victoria was a beautiful young lady
with long blond hair like her mother. All those years I had never seen her
outside of her kitchen. At times I thought that she must have had some kind
of strange disease. Why else was she never outside?

When I moved away from hometown I was still wondering about Victoria.
By that time I had convinced myself that Victoria must have been crazy.
She must have fallen in love with someone who betrayed her and lost her mind.
Her mother must have told her that she would not let her see anyone again.
Why else was she never outside all these years?

The last few times I walked by that house the kitchen was empty.
Victoria and her mother must have died.
Why else was nobody at the kitchen window?

ps/ The young girl was born out of wedlock. Her mother had tuberculosis
but she could not afford proper care at a hospital. She became her only caregiver.
When her mother died she moved to another town and was living with her aunt.

Image: http://robertgouldhistoricalartist.blogspot.com/

Short Goodbyes

 

The Short goodbye (by Steve Almond, in “This won’t take but a minute, honey”)

“…This was the summer of my eighth year, spent a cabin with my grandparents, both of whom I loved more than I would allow. My grandpa and her raspy laugh, her green crochet needless knit together under the lamp, like tiny axes whet and whet. My grandpa leaning over the checkerboard with his beautiful crooked teeth. They were burdened people contented by simple pleasures. I should have kissed each of them more than I did. We waste so much of our hearts. Only the dying keep a full account. In their moment of passing, the exact amount is revealed on our tongues, which turn black with regret.”

The Short goodbye (by myself, using Steve Almond’s words; this took more than twenty years…)

This was the last summer I spent with my grandmother, “whom I loved more than I would allow”. “Her raspy laugh, her green crochet needless knit together under the lamp, like tiny axes whet and whet”. My grandpa had passed away a long time ago. “They were burdened people contented by simple pleasures. I should have kissed each of them more than I did. We waste so much of our hearts. Only the dying keep a full account. In their moment of passing, the exact amount is revealed on our tongues, which turn black with regret”.

ps/ I do not read modern literature often. But I saw this book with short stories in one direction (that, yes take less than a minute to read…) and short essays on writing (that you find by flipping the book over), and thought “this ought to be interesting…”.

Refusal

Che fece …. il gran rifiuto

To certain people there comes a day

when they must say the great Yes or the great No.

He who has the Yes ready within him

immediately reveals himself, and saying it he follows

his honor and his own conviction.

He who refuses does not repent. Should he be asked again,

he would say no again. And yet that no — the right no —

crushes him for the rest of his life.

by Constantine P. Cavafy (1901)

Traslation: http://users.hol.gr/~barbanis/cavafy/rifiuto.html

 

 

 

 

Original poem in Greek:

Che fece …. il gran rifiuto

Σε μερικούς ανθρώπους έρχεται μια μέρα

που πρέπει το μεγάλο Ναι ή το μεγάλο το Οχι

να πούνε. Φανερώνεται αμέσως όποιος τόχει

έτοιμο μέσα του το Ναι, και λέγοντάς το πέρα

πηγαίνει στην τιμή και στην πεποίθησί του.

Ο αρνηθείς δεν μετανοιώνει. Αν ρωτιούνταν πάλι,

όχι θα ξαναέλεγε. Κι όμως τον καταβάλλει

εκείνο το όχι — το σωστό — εις όλην την ζωή του.

Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (1901)

Portrait

Portrait

Unconscious words

on your lips

Unfinished dreams wrapped

around your eyes

Unspoken tenderness confined

in your veins.

Sorrows relieved by dignity.

 

Judas Kiss

Judas Kiss

It’s the soft wind

That reminds me of

The dance of our words

The wild flowers of

The scents of our feelings

The dark moon of

Your deceptive silences

And the bitter rain of

All my tears.

 

Intersection

Intersection

 

 

Walked the same path

Stared into each other’s eyes

Spoke the same words

Thought the same thoughts

Felt the same feelings

For an instant and

For eternity

Before we said

“Good bye”.

 

 

Conquest

Conquest

Like sunlight dissolves dawn

Like virtue endures temptation

Like courage defeats fear

I will conquer the lonesomeness

of your silence.

Palindromic

Palindromic

You will discover me

I will discover you

 

I will disappoint you

You will disappoint me

 

You will deny me

I will deny you

 

I will forget you

You will forget me

 

You will desire me

I will desire you

 

I will seek you out

You will seek me out

 

You will love me

I will love you

 

Endlessly

Absorption

Absorption

 

Look at me.

Look at my eyes

Full of mirrors

Breaking inside them

Look at my hands

Full of veins

With death whispering inside them

Look at my body

Full of silk yarns

With my dreams confined inside them

 

Let’s leave. I am cold.

 

 

Endurance

Endurance

 

“Doesn’t it smell like summer?”

“It is still too early”, you said.

Your smile was shining

Provocatively, in the rain.

 

How can you smile with such agony

In your soul, my love?

Forbidden

Forbidden

 

 Reflections of our souls

 Traced by the morning sunlight

 And our desire to immerse in each other

 Alive

 Eternal feeling ripened by time 

 Love without pretentious blossoms

Absence

Absence

In everybody’s eyes are

Your eyes

And from everybody’s lips,

Your lips

Are missing.

Chase

Chase

My thoughts

Derailed jasmine

Chasing our shadows

On your walls

My voice

Crystal dust

Racing our words

In your silence

And my hope

Abandoned

On the racks of time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twice upon a time.

Twice upon a time.

Isabella was sitting by the lamp with the green light, staring at her book.

With her mother visiting her older sister at a nearby city and her brother working till late,  it was awfully quite around the house. She would have gone for a walk, but the rain kept her indoors, thinking about him.

She felt great relief when found out that he was back in town. She could not wait to see him again. She asked her maid to occupy her stepfather so she can leave through the kitchen door. She quickly walked through the garden and into the small forest behind the house.

She kept walking as fast as she could through the fields until she got to the place where they used to meet. There she waited until she heard steps approaching. Not being sure if it was him, she pulled her coat over her head, and remained still in the dark. She felt the steps right behind her. She stopped breathing.

The sound of the steps started fading away…

As she uncovered her face she saw the shadow of a man walking away across the fields.

__________________________________________________________________

“I have already begun to forget about the house with the mezzanine, and

only now and then, when I am working or reading, suddenly–without rhyme

or reason–I remember the green light in the window, and the sound of my

own footsteps as I walked through the fields that night..”

From the : House with the Mezzanine (P. Chekhov)

 

Triumph

Triumph

Pretend that you

Did not dance with

The Sirens

Did not feel

Those moments

Full of sorrow

Did not sink in

Absolute silence

As you are walking

Through these Symplegades

Triumphant

Rich in despair loot

Love Lyrics

“When she welcomes me

Arms open wide

I feel as some traveler returning

From the far land of Punt.

 

All things change; the mind, the senses,

Into perfume rich and strange.

 

And when she parts her lips to kiss

My head is light, I am drunk without beer.”

 

(Love Poems of AncientEgypt, translated by

Ezra Pound and Noel Stock)

 

Fulfillment

        I am eating alone

        With your thought

        Falling asleep alone

        With your thought

        Waking up alone

        With your thought

        The cold wind on my face

        Reminds me that I am alive

 

        “Je pense toujours à toi 

         Et je t’embrasse tres tres fort…”

 

        I will forget 

        I will forget

 

   Gustav Klimt: The hand-painted

 

 

 

 

 

 

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