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.

 

 

 

 

 

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“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

 

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

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

 

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/

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

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.

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

 

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

 

 

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…”.

Portrait

Portrait

Unconscious words

on your lips

Unfinished dreams wrapped

around your eyes

Unspoken tenderness confined

in your veins.

Sorrows relieved by dignity.

 

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

Absence

Absence

In everybody’s eyes are

Your eyes

And from everybody’s lips,

Your lips

Are missing.

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