Saturday, August 31, 2013

things founded clean on their own shapes

The Peninsula

When you have nothing more to say, just drive
For a day all round the peninsula.
The sky is tall as over a runway,
The land without marks so you will not arrive

But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable,
And you’re in the dark again. Now recall

The glazed foreshore and the silhouetted log,
The rock where breakers shredded into rags,
The leggy birds stilted on their own legs,
Islands riding themselves out into the fog,

And drive back home, still with nothing to say
Except that now you will uncode all landscapes
By this: things founded clean on their own shapes,
Water and ground in their extremity.

Seamus Heaney
Door into the Dark

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

every garden is like a vast hospital

What is certain and no laughing matter is that existence is an evil for all the parts which make up the universe ... Not only individual men, but the whole human race was and always will be necessarily unhappy. Not only the human race but the whole animal world. Not only animals but all other beings in their way. Not only individuals, but species, genera, realms, spheres, systems, worlds.

Go into a garden of plants, grass, flowers. No matter how lovely it seems. Even in the mildest season of the year. You will not be able to look anywhere and not find suffering. That whole family of vegetation is in a state of souffrance, each in its own way. Here a rose is attacked by the sun, which has given it life; it withers, languishes, wilts. There a lily is sucked cruelly by a bee, in its most sensitive, most life-giving parts. Sweet honey is not produced by industrious, patient, good, virtuous bees without unspeakable torment for those most delicate fibers, without the pitiless massacre of flowerets. That tree is infested by an ant colony, that other one by caterpillars, flies, snails, mosquitoes ... The spectacle of such abundance of life when you first go into this garden lifts your spirits, and that is why you think it is a joyful place. But in truth this life is wretched and unhappy, every garden is like a vast hospital (a place much more deplorable than a cemetery), and if these beings feel, or rather, were to feel, surely not being would be better for them than being.

Giacomo Leopardi

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

black blade

I saw a redhaired girl walking under sunlit trees 

Years later I knew that
 if I have a heart at all
 it is a black
 blade that God

 whets on a numb stone
 hidden in his own murderous chest,
 a dry, anticipatory

 He tests
 the edge on the fat curve
 of his thumb and

 sucks a drop
 of coppery blood.

Monday, August 19, 2013

the birds of the air

There was a Young Lady in White,
Who looked out at the depths of the Night;
But the birds of the air
Filled her heart with despair,
And oppressed that Young Lady in White.

Edward Lear

Friday, August 16, 2013

this waking amongst men

ben at lake michigan, april 2010

Whatever the difference is, it all began
the day we woke up face-to-face like lovers
and his four-day-old smile dawned on him again,
possessed him, till it would not fall or waver;
and I pitched back not my old hard-pressed grin
but his own smile, or one I'd rediscovered.
Dear son, I was mezzo del cammin
and the true path was as lost to me as ever
when you cut in front and lit it as you ran.
See how the true gift never leaves the giver:
returned and redelivered, it rolled on
until the smile poured through us like a river.
How fine, I thought, this waking amongst men!
I kissed your mouth and pledged myself forever.

Don Paterson,
"Waking with Russell"

Saturday, August 10, 2013

the shore broke from the sea and trailed in your wake

Viaţa mea se iluminează

Părul tău e mai decolorat de soare,
regina mea de negru şi de sare.

Ţărmul s-a rupt de mare şi te-a urmat
ca o umbră, ca un şarpe dezarmat.

Trec fantome ale verii în declin,
corăbiile sufletului meu marin.

Şi viaţa mea se iluminează,
sub ochiul tău verde la amiază,
cenuşiu ca pământul la amurg.
Oho, alerg şi salt şi curg.

Mai lasă-mă un minut,
Mai lasă-mă o secundă,
Mai lasă-mă o frunză, un fir de nisip.
Mai lasă-mă o briză, o undă.

Mai lasă-mă un anotimp, un an, un timp.

Nichita Stanescu

My Life Is Bright

Your hair bleaches in the sun,
my queen, dark and salt-spun.

The shore broke from the sea and trailed in your wake
like a shadow, like a fangless snake.

Ghosts of the ebbing summer tack and roll,
ships of my marine soul.

And my life floods with light
under your eye, green when the sky is bright,
gray as earth under a setting sun.
Oh, I frisk and flow and run.

Allow me a minute more.
Allow me a second more.
Allow me a leaf, a grain of sand.
Allow me a breeze, a wave to the shore.

Allow me this time of year, a year, a time.

(my translation)