girl lollipop contemplative

The Man with the Hoe

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans 
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground, 
The emptiness of ages in his face, 
And on his back the burden of the world. 
Who made him dead to rapture and despair, 
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes. 
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox? 
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw? 
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow? 
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain? 
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave 
To have dominion over sea and land; 
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power; 
To feel the passion of Eternity? 
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns 
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep? 
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf 
There is no shape more terrible than this — 
More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed — 
More filled with signs and portents for the soul — 
More fraught with menace to the universe. 
What gulfs between him and the seraphim! 
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him 
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades? 
What the long reaches of the peaks of song, 
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose? 
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look; 
Time's tragedy is in the aching stoop; 
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed, 
Plundered, profaned, and disinherited, 
Cries protest to the Powers that made the world. 
A protest that is also a prophecy. 
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, 
Is this the handiwork you give to God, 
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched? 
How will you ever straighten up this shape; 
Touch it again with immortality; 
Give back the upward looking and the light; 
Rebuild in it the music and the dream, 
Make right the immemorial infamies, 
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes? 
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands 
How will the Future reckon with this Man? 
How answer his brute question in that hour 
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores? 
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings — 
With those who shaped him to the thing he is — 
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world. 
After the silence of the centuries?

--Edwin Markham
  • Current Music
    "Between You and Me" by DC Talk
girl lollipop contemplative

LXI

Tonight I get down from my horse,
before the door of the house, where
I said farewell with the cock's crowing.
It is shut and no one responds.

The stone bench on which mama gave birth
to my older brother, so he could saddle
backs I had ridden bare,
through lanes, past hedges, a village boy;
the bench on which I left my heartsick childhood
yellowing in the sun ... And this mourning
that frames the portal?

God in alien peace,
the beast sneezes, as if calling too;
noses about, prodding the cobbles. Then doubts,
whinnies,
his ears all ears.

Papa must be up praying, and perhaps
he will think I am late.
My sisters, humming their simple,
bubblish illusions,
preparing for the approaching holy day,
and now it's almost here.
I wait, I wait, my heart
an egg at its moment, that gets blocked.

Large family that we left
not long ago, no one awake now, and not even a candle
placed on the altar so that we might return.

I call again, and nothing.
We fall silent and begin to sob, and the animal
whinnies, keeps on whinnying.

They're all sleeping forever,
and so nicely, that at last
my horse dead-tired starts nodding
in his turn, and half-asleep, with each pardon, says
it's all right, everything is quite all right.

--César Vallejo
translated by Clayton Eshleman
  • Current Mood
    happy happy
girl lollipop contemplative

After a Death

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

--Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly
  • Current Mood
    crazy crazy
girl lollipop contemplative

On Translation

Not to search for meaning, but to reedify a gesture, an intent.

As a translator, one grows attached to originals. Seldom are choices 
   so purposeful.

At midday, the translator meets with the poet at a café at the intersection 
   where for decades whores and cross-dressers have lined up at 
   night for passers-by to peruse.  

Not a monologue, but an implied conversation. The translator's 
   response is delayed. 

The translator asks, the poet answers unrestrictedly. Someone 
   watches the hand movements that punctuate the flow of an 
   incomprehensible dialogue.

They're speaking about the poet's disillusionment with Freud. 

One after another, vivid descriptions of the poet's dreams begin to 
   pour out of his mouth. There's no signal of irony in his voice. 
   Nor a hint of astonishment, nor a suggestion of hidden meanings,
   rather a belief in the detritus theory.

"Se me aparece un gato fosforescente. Lo sostengo en mis brazos 
   sabiendo que no volveré a ser el mismo." 

"Estoy en una fiesta. De pronto veo que el diablo está sentado frente 
   a mí. Viste de negro, lleva una barba puntiaguda y un tridente en 
   la mano izquierda. Es tan amable que nadie se da cuenta de que 
   no es un invitado como los otros." 

"Anuncian en el radio que Octavio Paz leerá su poema más reciente:
   'Vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . .'"

"Entro a un laboratorio y percibo aromas inusitados. Aún los recuerdo." 


The translator knows that nothing the poet has ever said or written 
   reveals as much about him as the expression on his face when he 
   was asked to pose for a picture. He greets posterity with a devilish 
   grin. To the translator's delight, he's forced to repeat the gesture at 
   least three or four times. The camera has no film. 

--Mónica de la Torre
  • Current Mood
    melancholy melancholy
girl lollipop contemplative

The Orange Bears

The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes
Who played with me when I was ten,
Christ, before I'd left home they'd had
Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs
Seared by hot slag, their soft trusting
Bellies kicked in, their tongues ripped
Out, and I went down through the woods
To the smelly crick with Whitman
In the Haldeman-Julius edition,
And I just sat there worrying my thumbnail
Into the cover---What did he know about
Orange bears with their coats all stunk up with soft coal
And the National Guard coming over
From Wheeling to stand in front of the millgates
With drawn bayonets jeering at the strikers?

I remember you would put daisies
On the windowsill at night and in
The morning they'd be so covered with soot
You couldn't tell what they were anymore.

A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!

--Kenneth Patchen
  • Current Mood
    okay okay
girl lollipop contemplative

Book 1, Ode 5, [To Pyrrha]

What slender youth bedewed with liquid odours
Courts thee on roses in some pleasant cave,
   Pyrrha? For whom bind'st thou
   In wreaths thy golden hair,
Plain in thy neatness? O how oft shall he
On faith and changèd gods complain: and seas
   Rough with black winds and storms
   Unwonted shall admire:
Who now enjoys thee credulous, all gold,
Who always vacant always amiable
   Hopes thee; of flattering gales
   Unmindful? Hapless they
To whom thou untried seem'st fair. Me in my vowed
Picture the sacred wall declares t' have hung
   My dank and dropping weeds
   To the stern god of the sea.

--Horace
translated by John Milton
  • Current Mood
    determined
girl lollipop contemplative

Adam's Curse

We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, "A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world." 
                                              And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, "To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labour to be beautiful."
I said, "It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough."

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

--W. B. Yeats
  • Current Mood
    sleepy sleepy
girl lollipop contemplative

Knot iii.VII

If people could feed on themselves which they can, whether in despair or
Pride, time becomes a circulation, reduced and expanded to that, imitating
Digestion. Ingesting decomposes any scrap into functions, whereas eating
Something other than yourself disprove wholeness. What rewards
Rewording might be justice. Then does response outrun responsibility,
Overthrow it, so all government's automatic, total, a model of control based
On nature? If retribution's normal, rule's always enforcing, twisted and
Abstract: flexed. Then days are contaminated by law, and life's a code,
Dead yet lethal. Even putrefaction would be saturated thus: the severed
Hand molder on schedule.

Perhaps in this way all living's starvation, programmed to regurgitate itself,
So cutting off supplies would free, while goods stifle. Thus the excuse
That oneness means bodiless, that what has parts is too bulky for unity.
Indivisible then implies a corpus subtracted, or, origin in amputation. Any
Bomb curls back on its unleashing, so mirrors cause and denies effect.

So repeats; is a refrain. Like all waves, destruction won't break. If so,
Nobody needs to be alive to go on. State equals machine, but runs only
By crashing. Each project attacks what may be in place with the corrosive
Burn of potential. Passivity's the only order: ordains. But breathing counts
Down. Each movement of respiration encodes terror, which flourishes in
Everyone thus, in the midst of hunger and abundance, in the speed of love.
No tourniquet dispels it.

--Stacy Doris
  • Current Mood
    calm forgiving
girl lollipop contemplative

On Gifts For Grace

I saw a great teapot
I wanted to get you this stupendous
100% cotton royal blue and black checked shirt,
There was a red and black striped one too
Then I saw these boots at a place called Chuckles
They laced up to about two inches above your ankles
All leather and in red, black or purple
It was hard to have no money today
I won't even speak about the possible flowers and kinds of lingerie
All linen and silk with not-yet-perfumed laces
Brilliant enough for any of the Graces
Full of luxury, grace notes, prosperousness and charm
But I can only praise you with this poem—
Its being is the same as the meaning of your name
--Bernadette Mayer
  • Current Mood
    happy happy
girl lollipop contemplative

[Like the very gods]/ He looks to me to be in heaven

Like the very gods in my sight is he who 
sits where he can look in your eyes, who listens
close to you, to hear the soft voice, its sweetness
          murmur in love and

laughter, all for him. But it breaks my spirit; 
underneath my breast all the heart is shaken. 
Let me only glance where you are, the voice dies,
          I can say nothing,

but my lips are stricken to silence, under-
neath my skin the tenuous flame suffuses;
nothing shows in front of my eyes, my ears are
          muted in thunder.

And the sweat breaks running upon me, fever
Shakes my body, paler I turn than grass is;
I can feel that I have been changed, I feel that
          death has come near me.

--Sappho
edited by Richard Lattimore

*****

He looks to me to be in heaven,
that man who sits across from you
and listens near you to your soft speaking,

your laughing lovely: that, I vow,
makes the heart leap in my breast;
for watching you a moment, speech fails me,

my tongue is paralysed, at once
a light fire runs beneath my skin,
my eyes are blinded, and my ears drumming,

the sweat pours down me, and I shake
all over, sallower than grass:
I feel as if I'm not far off dying.

--Sappho
translated by M. L. West
  • Current Mood
    pleased pleased