tonight I can write :: pablo neruda

translated by w. s. merwin

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, “The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.”

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

double poem of lake eden :: frederico garcía lorca

translated by greg simon and steven f. white

Our cattle graze, the wind sends forth its breath.

It was the voice I had before,
ignorant of the dense and bitter sap,
the one that came lapping at my feet
beneath the moist and fragile ferns.

Ay, my love’s voice from before,
ay, voice of my truth,
ay, voice of my open side,
when all the roses spilled from my tongue
and the grass hadn’t felt the horse’s impossible teeth!

Here you are drinking my blood,
drinking the humor of the child I was,
while my eyes are shattered by aluminum
and drunken voices in the wind.

Let me pass through the arch
where Eve devours ants
and Adam impregnates the dazzling fish.
Little men with horns, let me return
to the grove of easy living
and the somersaults of pure joy.

I know the best secret way
to use an old rusty pin,
I know the horror of eyes wide awake
on the concrete surface of a plate.

But I want neither world nor dream, divine voice,
I want my liberty, my human love
in the darkest corner of the breeze no one wants.
My human love!

Those sea-dogs chase each other
and the wind lies in ambush for careless tree trunks.
Oh, voice of before, let your tongue burn
this voice of tin and tale!

I want to cry because I feel like it—
the way children cry in the last row of seats—
because I’m not a man, not a poet, not a leaf,
only a wounded pulse that probes the things of the other side.

I want to cry saying my name,
rose, child, and fir on the shore of this lake,
to speak truly as a man of blood
killing in myself the mockery and suggestive power of the word.

No, no, I’m not asking, I’m telling you what I want,
my liberated voice lapping at my hands.
In the labyrinth of folding screens my nakedness receives
the punishing moon and the clock covered with ash.

I was speaking that way.
I was speaking that way when Saturn stopped the trains
and the fog and Dream and Death were looking for me.
Looking for me
where cattle with little feet of a page bellow
and my body floats between contrary equilibriums.

Courtesy of A.M.

the end and the beginning :: wislawa szymborska

translated by joanna trzeciak

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Again we’ll need bridges
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone listens
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.

From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
rust-eaten arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass which has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out,
blade of grass in his mouth,
gazing at the clouds.

Courtesy of B

the parakeets :: alberto blanco

translated by w. s. merlin

They talk all day
and when it starts to get dark
they lower their voices
to converse with their own shadows
and with the silence.

They are like everybody
—the parakeets—
all day chatter,
and at night bad dreams.

With their gold rings
on their clever faces,
brilliant feathers
and the heart restless
with speech…

They are like everybody,
—the parakeets—
the ones that talk best
have separate cages.

what was told, that :: rumi

translated by coleman barks

What was told to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

inshallah :: rumi

translated by coleman barks

Some people work and become wealthy. Others do the same and
remain poor. Marriage

fills one with energy. Another it drains. Don’t trust ways.
They change. A means

flails about like a donkey’s tail. Always add the gratitude
clause, if God wills. Then

proceed. You may be leading a donkey, no, a goat, no, who can
tell? We sit in a dark pit

and think we’re home. We pass around delicacies. Poisoned
bait. You think this

is preachy double-talk? Those who do not breathe the God
phrase live in a

collective blindness. Rubbing their eyes in the dark,
they ask, “Who’s there?”

song :: frederico garcía lorca

translated by a. s. kline

The girl with the lovely face,
goes, gathering olives.
The wind, that towering lover,
takes her by the waist.
Four riders go by
on Andalusian ponies,
in azure and emerald suits,
in long cloaks of shadow.
‘Come to Cordoba, sweetheart!’
The girl does not listen.
Three young bullfighters go by,
slim-waisted in suits of orange,
with swords of antique silver.
‘Come to Sevilla, sweetheart!’
The girl does not listen.
When the twilight purples,
with the daylight’s dying,
a young man goes by, holding
roses, and myrtle of moonlight.
‘Come to Granada, my sweetheart!’
But the girl does not listen.
The girl, with the lovely face,
goes on gathering olives,
while the wind’s grey arms
go circling her waist.

when autumn came :: faiz ahmed faiz

translated by naomi lazard

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
It stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
scattered them over the ground.
Anyone could trample them out of shape
undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

The birds that herald dreams
were exiled from their song,
each voice torn out of its throat.
They dropped into the dust
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Oh, God of May have mercy.
Bless these withered bodies
with the passion of your resurrection;
make their dead veins flow with blood again.

Give some tree the gift of green again.
Let one bird sing.

too many names :: pablo neruda

translated by a. s. kline

Monday entangles itself with Tuesday
and the week with the year:
time cannot be severed
with your weary shears,
and all the names of the day
the water of night clears.

No man can call himself Peter,
no woman Rose or Mary,
we are all sand or dust,
we are all rain in the rain.
They have told me of Venezuelas,
Paraguays and Chiles,
I don’t know what they’re talking about:
I know the skin of the Earth
and I know that it has no name.

When I lived among roots
they delighted me more than flowers,
and when I talked to a stone
it echoed like a bell.

It is so slow the spring
that lasts the winter long:
time has lost his shoes:
one year’s four centuries.

When I go to sleep each night
what am I called, not called?
And when I wake up, who am I
if it wasn’t ‘I’ who was sleeping?
This is to say that as soon as we
are thrust out into life,
that we come newly born,
that our mouths are not filled
with all these dubious names,
with all these mournful labels,
with all these meaningless letters,
with all this ‘yours’ and ‘mine’,
with all this signing of papers.

I think to confound things
mingling them, hatching them new,
seeing through them, stripping them naked,
until the light of the earth
has the unity of the ocean,
a generous integrity,
a crackle of starched perfume.

I didn’t apologize to the well :: mahmoud darwish

translated by fady joudah

I didn’t apologize to the well when I passed the well,
I borrowed from the ancient pine tree a cloud
and squeezed it like an orange, then waited for a gazelle
white and legendary. And I ordered my heart to be patient:
Be neutral as if you were not of me! Right here
the kind shepherds stood on air and evolved
their flutes, then persuaded the mountain quail toward
the snare. And right here I saddled a horse for flying toward
my planets, then flew. And right here the priestess
told me: Beware of the asphalt road and the cars
and walk upon your exhalation. Right here
I slackened my shadow and waited, I picked the tiniest
rock and stayed up late. I broke the myth and I broke.
And I circled the well until I flew from myself
to what isn’t of it. A deep voice shouted at me:
This grave isn’t your grave. So I apologized.
I read verses from the wise holy book, and said
to the unknown one in the well: Salaam upon you the day
you were killed in the land of peace, and the day you rise
from the darkness of the well alive!