melting & burning


December 29, 2013, 2:07 pm
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I know. I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, it’s quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don’t do it. I know I’ll never jump again. -Roquentin, Nausea (Sartre)

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Amorgos, by Nikos Gatsos
December 6, 2013, 10:32 pm
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In the backyard of the embittered no sun rises
Only worms come out to deride the stars
Only horses are in bud on ant-hills
And bats are eating birds and pissing seed.

In the backyard of the embittered night is king
Only the throngs of leaves throw out a river of tears
When the devil goes by to ride on the backs of dogs
And the crows are diving in a well of blood.

In the backyard of the embittered the eye has run dry
The brain has turned to ice and the heart petrified
Frogs’ flesh hangs from the teeth of the spider
Crickets howl starving at the feet of vampires.

In the backyard of the embittered grass comes up black
Only, one May evening, a breeze went by
A light footstep like the movement of a meadow
A kiss of the foam-embroidered sea.

And if you are thirsty for water we shall milk a cloud
And if you are hungry for bread we shall slaughter a nightingale
Only hold out a moment for the bitter herb to open
For the dark heavens to flash, for the candlewick to blossom.

But it was a wind that went, a lark that perished
It was the face of May, the whiteness of the moon
A light footstep like the movement of a meadow
A kiss of the foam-embroidered sea.

Translated by Sally Purcell

 

Στου πικραμένου την αυλή ήλιος δεν ανατέλλει
Μόνο σκουλήκια βγαίνουνε να κοροϊδέψουν τ’ άστρα
Μόνο φυτρώνουν άλογα στις μυρμηγκοφωλιές
Και νυχτερίδες τρων πουλιά και κατουράνε σπέρμα.

Στου πικραμένου την αυλή δε βασιλεύει η νύχτα
Μόνο ξερνάν οι φυλλωσιές ένα ποτάμι δάκρυα
Όταν περνάει ο διάβολος να καβαλήσει τα σκυλιά
Και τα κοράκια κολυμπάν σ’ ένα πηγάδι μ’ αίμα.

Στου πικραμένου την αυλή το μάτι έχει στερέψει
Έχει παγώσει το μυαλό κι έχει η καρδιά πετρώσει
Κρέμονται σάρκες βατραχιών στα δόντια της αράχνης
Σκούζουν ακρίδες νηστικές σε βρυκολάκων πόδια.

Στου πικραμένου την αυλή βγαίνει χορτάρι μαύρο
Μόνο ένα βράδυ του Μαγιού πέρασε ένας αγέρας
Ένα περπάτημα ελαφρύ σα σκίρτημα του κάμπου
Ένα φιλί της θάλασσας της αφροστολισμένης.

Κι αν θα διψάσεις για νερό θα στύψουμε ένα σύννεφο
Κι αν θα πεινάσεις για ψωμί θα σφάξουμε ένα αηδόνι
Μόνο καρτέρει μία στιγμή ν’ ανοίξει ο πικραπήγανος
N’ αστράψει ο μαύρος ουρανός να λουλουδίσει ο φλόμος.

Μα είταν αγέρας κι έφυγε κορυδαλλός κι εχάθη
Είταν του Μάη το πρόσωπο του φεγγαριού η ασπράδα
Ένα περπάτημα ελαφρύ σα σκίρτημα του κάμπου
Ένα φιλί της θάλασσας της αφροστολισμένης.

 

full poem



“The City” – Constantine P. Cavafy
July 19, 2012, 7:16 am
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

Translated By Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard



The First Rain – Yehuda Amichai
June 6, 2012, 7:42 pm
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The first rain reminds me
Of the rising summer dust.
The rain doesn’t remember the rain of yesteryear.
A year is a trained beast with no memories.
Soon you will again wear your harnesses,
Beautiful and embroidered, to hold
Sheer stockings: you
Mare and harnesser in one body.

The white panic of soft flesh
In the panic of a sudden vision
Of ancient saints.



Black Rook in Rainy Weather – Sylvia Plath
June 6, 2012, 7:40 pm
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On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical
Yet politic, ignorant

Of whatever angel any choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur.
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance
Miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel,

For that rare, random descent.



“Publication Date” – Franz Wright
April 23, 2012, 4:58 pm
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One of the few pleasures of writing
is the thought of one’s book in the hands of a kindhearted
intelligent person somewhere. I can’t remember what the others
are right now.
I just noticed that it is my own private

National I Hate Myself and Want to Die Day
(which means the next day I will love my life
and want to live forever). The forecast calls
for a cold night in Boston all morning

and all afternoon. They say
tomorrow will be just like today,
only different. I’m in the cemetery now
at the edge of town, how did I get here?

A sparrow limps past on its little bone crutch saying
I am Federico García Lorca
risen from the dead —
literature will lose, sunlight will win, don’t worry.



January 31, 2011, 12:15 am
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Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

-Samuel Beckett