melting & burning

“Too late for anything, too early for nothing” – Tadeusz Dąbrowski
May 12, 2012, 7:51 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , , ,

Unexpectedly we’ll meet again years later,
quite on purpose we’ll mix beer and wine
with vodka, to ride bicycles in the middle of the night
around the estate, unexpectedly bumping into the high

kerbstones, trampling flowerbeds, cutting our cheeks
on branches that have sprung up unexpectedly, then un-
expectedly to fall over, and pushing our
warped bicycles, come to my place, to dress

our wounds, and then lie down to sleep, in the morning
to copulate unexpectedly like animals, out
of fear that something will unexpectedly return

that we felt years ago, copulating like people.


Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones


Na wszystko za późno, na nic za wcześnie

Znowu niespodziewanie spotkamy się po latach,
będziemy z premedytacją mieszać piwo i wino
z wódką, by w środku nocy jeździć rowerami
po osiedlu, niespodziewanie uderzając w wysokie

krawężniki, tratując klomby, tnąc policzki
o wyrosłe niespodziewanie gałęzie, by się nie-
spodziewanie potem wywrócić, i prowadząc
zwichrowane rowery, przyjść do mnie, by opatrzyć

rany, a potem położyć się spać, by rano
kopulować niespodziewanie jak zwierzęta, ze
strachu, że powróci niespodziewanie coś,

co czuliśmy przed laty, kopulując jak ludzie.


“Prayer” – Marie Howe
April 30, 2011, 11:57 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

Someone or something is leaning close to me now
trying to tell me the one true story of my life:

one note,
low as a bass drum, beaten over and over:

It’s beginning summer,
and the man I love has forgotten my smell

the cries I made when he touched me, and my laughter
when he picked me up

and carried me, still laughing, and laid me down,
among the scattered daffodils on the dining room table.

And Jane is dead,
and I want to go where she went,
where my brother went,

and whoever it is that whispered to me

when I was a child in my father’s bed is come back now:
and I can’t stop hearing:
This is the way it is,
the way it always was and will be —

beaten over and over — panicking on street corners,
or crouched in the back of taxicabs,

afraid I’ll cry out in jammed traffic, and no one will know me or
know where to bring me.

There is, I almost remember,
another story:

It runs alongside this one like a brook inside a train.
The sparrows know it; the grass rises with it.

The wind moves through the highest tree branches without
seeming to hurt them.

Tell me.
Who was I when I used to call your name?

Second Sex – Beauvoir
February 15, 2011, 10:31 pm
Filed under: quote | Tags: ,

(passages that made a lot of sense to me in 2004)

“…[t]his does not mean that [her] ills are imaginery: they are as real and destructive as the situation to which they give expression.”

“Through twenty years of waiting, dreaming, hoping, the young girl has cherished the myth of the liberating savior-hero, and hence the independence she has won through work is not enough to abolish her desire for a glorious abdication … Even if she is a severe judge of the men she evaluates in daily life, she none the less reveres Man, and if she encounters him, she is ready to fall on her knees.”

“When bad faith becomes too obstinate, it leads to the insane asylum, for one of the constant characteristics of erotomania is that the behavior of the lover seems enigmatic and paradoxical; on account of this quirk, the patient’s mania always succeeds in breaking through the resistance of reality. A normal woman sometimes yields in the end to the truth and finally recognizes the fact that she is no longer loved. But so long as she has not lost all hope and made this admission, she always cheats a little.”

“If she is wiser and less intransigent, the woman in love becomes resigned. She is not all, she is not necessary: it is enough to be useful; another might easily fill her place: she is content to be the one who is there. She accepts her servitude without demanding the same in return. Thus she can enjoy a modest happiness; but even within these limits it will not be unclouded.”

Sonnet CXXX – Shakespeare
February 14, 2011, 11:15 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags: , ,

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

“I like it” – Tsvetaeva
January 31, 2011, 4:23 pm
Filed under: poem, song | Tags: ,

Мне нравится, что вы больны не мной,
Мне нравится, что я больна не вами,
Что никогда тяжелый шар земной
Не уплывет под нашими ногами.
Мне нравится, что можно быть смешной –
Распущенной – и не играть словами,
И не краснеть удушливой волной,
Слегка соприкоснувшись рукавами.

Мне нравится еще, что вы при мне
Спокойно обнимаете другую,
Не прочите мне в адовом огне
Гореть за то, что я не вас целую.
Что имя нежное мое, мой нежный, не
Упоминаете ни днем, ни ночью – всуе…
Что никогда в церковной тишине
Не пропоют над нами: аллилуйя!

Спасибо вам и сердцем и рукой
За то, что вы меня – не зная сами! –
Так любите: за мой ночной покой,
За редкость встреч закатными часами,
За наши не-гулянья под луной,
За солнце, не у нас над головами,-
За то, что вы больны – увы! – не мной,
За то, что я больна – увы! – не вами!

-Марина Цветаева 1915

my translation:

I like the fact that you’re sick not with me,
I like the fact that I’m sick not with you,
And never will the heavy globe of earth
Drift away beneath our feet.
I like the fact that I can be amusing and loose
And not play with words,
And never flush with stifling waves above me
When we brush sleeves…

I also like that before my eyes
You calmly embrace another,
And do not damn me to the fires of hell
To burn for kissing another,
That my sweet name, my sweet, you never
Mention in day or night – in vain…
That never in the silence of the church,
No one will ever sing above us: hallelujah!

Thank you with both my heart and hand,
For without knowing me – loving me so
For my night’s calm
And for the rare rendezvous at sunset
For the moonlit walks we did not take
For the sun that is not above our heads,
For your not feeling sick about me,
For me not feeling sick for you.

January 31, 2011, 4:22 pm
Filed under: poem | Tags:

Как хорошо, что некого винить,
как хорошо, что ты никем не связан,
как хорошо, что до смерти любить
тебя никто на свете не обязан.

Как хорошо, что никогда во тьму
ничья рука тебя не провожала,
как хорошо на свете одному
идти пешком с шумящего вокзала.

Как хорошо, на родину спеша,
поймать себя в словах неоткровенных
и вдруг понять, как медленно душа
заботится о новых переменах.

-Иосиф Бродский 1961


my translation:

How nice to have no one to blame,
how nice that you are bound to no one,
how nice that till your death
no one is compelled to love you.

How nice that never in the darkness
no hand accompanied you,
how nice it is to be alone in life
to walk home from the noisy train station

How nice to journey to your homeland,
and catch yourself in verbal falsehoods
and all of a sudden realize how slowly the soul
apprehends new changes.