to condense the world into a single cry

Two poems by Florbela Espanca translated by Kay Cosgrove

Florbela Espanca                 Kay Cosgrove

Ser Poeta

by Florbela Espanca

Ser poeta é ser mais alto, é ser maior

Do que os homens! Morder como quem beija!

É ser mendigo e dar como quem seja

Rei do Reino de Aquém e de Além Dor!

 

É ter de mil desejos o esplendor

E não saber sequer que se deseja!

É ter cá dentro um astro que flameja,

É ter garras e asas de condor!

 

É ter fome, é ter sede de Infinito!

Por elmo, as manhãs de oiro e cetim…

É condensar o mundo num só grito!

 

E é amar-te, assim, perdidamente…

É seres alma e sangue e vida em mim

E dizê-lo cantando a toda a gente!

To Be a Poet

by Florbela Espanca

To be a poet is to be taller, to be larger 

Than men. To bite like others kiss. 

It is to be a beggar and to give like you are king

of the kingdom of brief and ever-lasting pain. 

 

It is to have a thousand wishes, splendor

And not even know what you desire.

It is to have here inside a star, a flame.

It is to have the condor’s talons and wings.

 

It is to be hungry, to thirst for the infinite.

The gold and satin mornings like an antique helmet;

It is to condense the world into a single cry,

 

And it is to love you, even so, desperately.

You are the soul, the blood, and the life in me

And I tell it to everyone through my song. 

translated from Portuguese by Kay Cosgrove
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Verses de Orgulho

by Florbela Espanca

O mundo quer-me mal porque ninguém


Tem asas como eu tenho! Porque Deus


Me fez nascer Princesa entre plebeus


Numa torre de orgulho e de desdém.

 

Porque o meu Reino fica para além …


Porque trago no olhar os vastos céus


E os oiros e clarões são todos meus!


Porque eu sou Eu e porque Eu sou Alguém!

 

O mundo ? O que é o mundo, ó meu Amor ?


—O jardim dos meus versos todo em flor…


A seara dos teus beijos, pão bendito…

 

Meus êxtases, meus sonhos, meus cansaços…


—São os teus braços dentro dos meus braços,


Via Láctea fechando o Infinito.

Verses of Pride

by Florbela Espanca

The world distains me because nobody

Has wings like mine. Because God

Begot me princess among the people

In a tower of pride and disgust.

 

Because my Reign goes beyond here.

Because I bring in my look the vast skies

And the gold and lightening are all mine.

Because I am who I am and because I am somebody.

 

The world? What is the world, oh my Love?

—The garden of my verses all in bloom,

The wheat field of your kisses like blessed bread.

 

My ecstasy, my dreams, my fatigue,

—They are your arms inside my arms,

the Milky Way closing the Infinite. 

translated from Portuguese by Kay Cosgrove
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…they move like snowstorms or squalls

A poem by Maxim Amelin translated by Derek Mong and Anne O. Fisher

Катавасия на Фоминой неделе

by Maxim Amelin

Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus audet

      ducere nuda choros.

Immortalia ne speres, monet annus et almum

      quae rapit hora diem.

                    Q. Horatius Flaccus, Od., IV, 7.

 

Но нет! — он может пробудиться,

Из гроба света луч пролить.

                    Граф Д. И. Хвостов.

                    К Дарье Алексеевне Державиной

                    на Паше, 1816 года Июля 16 дня

 

 

Подражание Хвостову

сочинить ко дню Христову

не случилось, — на Страстной

строчки — чаяния паче —

для решения задачи

сей не влезло ни одной

 

в голову. — Привычка к лаврам

быстро делает кентавром,

грозным с виду, косным в шаг, —

к вящей славе Их Сиятельств

в нарушенье обязательств

не стоится на ушах,

 

на потеху следопытам

не летается, копытом

стройным в воздухе маша:

раз-два-три, два-три-четыре. —

Неприкаянная в мире

дольнем странствует душа,

 

тяжкий груз таская тела,

от известного предела

неизведанного до, —

с миром выспренним в разлуке

не сидит, поджавши руки,

в ожидании Го — —.

 

В ожидании чего-то

эдакого: поворота,

перемены невзначай, —

изменив порядок строчек,

память вырвала листочек

с приглашением на чай.

 

Старое стихотворенье,

что прокисшее варенье,

крытый плесенью пирог. —

Не для всех своих исчадий

остаётся добрым дядей

вдохновений светлый бог.

 

Страх и ужас: вот бы если

все умершие воскресли

без разбору, — что тогда? —

Понесутся целым скопом

по америкам, европам

в залу Страшного суда,

 

друг отталкивая друга,

точно вихорь или вьюга,

всё сметая на пути,

необузданны и дики,

оглушительные крики

сея: «Не развоплоти!» —

 

«Пощади меня, Всевышний!» —

«И меня!» — «И я не лишний!» —

взвоют все до одного. —

Милосерд Господь и правед, —

только избранных восставит

или — лучше — никого.

 

Никого. — Какая демо-

кратия! — Моя поэма,

совершая трудный путь,

чертит странные зигзаги. —

Хорошо б у тихой влаги

на припёке отдохнуть:

 

«Мне ли, жителю вселенной,

внятен будет современный

шёпот, ропот или вой?» —

Ясные бросая взгляды,

плотоядные Наяды

плещут вешнею водой. —

 

Всяк родженный не однажды

глада не страшится, жажды,

обстоятельств или нужд,

хоть в казарме, хоть на зоне

размышляет о Назоне,

человеческого чужд. —

 

То, что свойственно природе,

тще не тщись в угоду моде

изменить, — со что и как,

как ни силься, что ни делай:

день взлетел, как ангел белый,

пал, что чёрный демон, мрак. —

 

Сутки — прочь, вторые сутки

помрачение в рассудке. —

Кто мне толком объяснит? —

Чёткий на вопрос вопросов

даст ответ? — Какой философ? —

Но молчат и Фет, и Ф. И. Т.

 

(псевдоним, инициалы). —

Геркулес у ног Омфалы,

весь в оборках кружевных,

северянинскому пажу

подражая, сучит пряжу,

упорядочен и тих.

 

Он, от жизни голубиной

отмахнувшийся дубиной,

облачится в шкуру льва

и взойдёт на склоны неба

убеждаться в том, что Геба

девственная, чем вдова

 

безутешная, не хуже, — 

тоже думает о муже:

«Я  невеста, ты  жених,

ты  жених, а я — невеста».

Нет ни времени, ни места

на подробности про них.

 

Так болтать шутливым слогом

можно долго и о многом:
то Ерема, то Фома, —
слов — полно, да толку мало, —
мысль, увы, не ночевала
в недрах некошна ума. —

«Кто герой моей поэмы? —
Я ль один? — А может, все мы,
кто не низок, не высок,
у кого, хотя негромкий,
свой, отдельный — там потомки
разберутся — голосок?» —

В гневе огненной геенны,
ненависть! не лезь на стены,
укроти свой, зависть! пыл,
не скрипи зубами, злоба! —
Да, Державин встал из гроба
и меня благословил. —

Смерти нет — одна морока:
классицизм или барокко? —
Зримый мир и мир иной
связаны, перетекая, —
катавасия такая
на неделе Фоминой.

 

1999-2002

Katabasia for St. Thomas Week

by Maxim Amelin

The Graces and their twins the nymphs will dare

      to dance undressed.

Don’t hope for immortality. The year gives warning,

      each hour steals the day’s sweet life.

—Horace, Odes IV.7

 

But no! He may awaken

and send a ray of light from out his coffin.

—Count D. I. Khvostov, to Darya Alekseyevna Derzhavina, the 16th of July, 1816

 

I couldn’t quite compose an homage

to Count Khvostov in time for Christmas,

not as I’d meant to, not a line—

despite my hopes for Holy Week.

I’ve yet to solve this simple problem,

and no solution comes to mind.

 

The moment you take praise for granted

is the moment you become a centaur:

crooked of gait, a grim demeanor.

But I’ll not tie myself in knots,

neglecting my own obligations,

just to win Their Lordships more honor.

 

Nor shall I fly to tease my trackers,

my slender hoof held up to mark

the time I’ve spent in graceful flight:

one-two-three, two-three-four.

My restless soul still wanders across

the earthly world’s endless sights;

 

it drags my body’s heavy load,

testing the limits of where we go

into the known and unexplored.

My soul won’t sit on its hands and wait—

off by itself in its lofty world—

for the Second Coming of the Lord.

 

For that certain something I’d heard,

I wait; for a turn of fate that’s better,

a sea change or serendipity…

my memory has switched some lines

and found, stuck between the mind’s

pages, an invitation out to tea.

 

A poem that’s old is like a pie

encrusted with mold, a sour jam

that sports a furry rind.

Likewise the god of inspiration,

who’ll only shine on his chosen brood.

To others he’s wholly unkind.

 

Fear and horror: what if the dead

were reincarnated, willy-nilly?

Could we handle them all?

I see the herds stampede across

the Europes and the Americas—

they enter the Day of Judgment’s halls.

 

Jostling each other out of the way,

they move like snowstorms or squalls

that clear all paths of debris—

they’re wild and unrestrained, their screams

can scatter us all with this deafening plea:

“Don’t unembody me!”

 

“Have pity on me, Almighty! Spare me!”

“And me!” “And me! I matter too!”

they wail in unison.

The Lord is merciful and just:

he’ll only raise a chosen few,

or—even better—none.

 

None. Now that’s a shit-

ocracy. My own epic poem

traces out its funny zig-zags

as it travels its difficult path.

How nice it’d be to laze near water,

soak up the rays and just relax.

 

“Will this newfangled whispering, grumbling,

and howling ever make sense to me:

the Universe’s denizen?”

The flesh-eating Naiads shoot me glances—

they splash their vernal water coyly

and flirt in my direction.

 

Whoever’s been born has felt the pangs

of thirst or hunger more than once.

He’s been resigned to poverty.

Even in barracks or labor camps,

where all that is human is foreign,

he ponder Ovid’s poetry.

 

So don’t exert yourself to change

the native and natural order of things,

to fit today’s modish fashion.

Your like and as are wholly futile:

the dawn rose like a white angel,

the darkness fell, black as a demon.

 

I’ve lost one day and then a second

to this growing eclipse of my reason.

Where’s the answer coming from

to this question of questions?

Which thinker’s got a clear solution?

Both Fet and F. I. T. are mum.

 

(Of course: a pseudonym, initials.)

Here’s Hercules in flounces lacey—

he sits at fierce Omphale’s feet.

He’s just like Severyanin’s page-boy.

The hero spins his yarn effetely,

so dutiful, mute, and meek.

 

But with a swing of oaken club

our Hercules undoes his dovecote.

Again arrayed in lion skin,

he soon ascends the vault of heaven

to locate Hebe virginal.

Zeus’s daughter is akin

 

to widows inconsolable:

like them, she wants a husband too.

“I’m the bride, you’re my bridegroom.

You’re the bridegroom; I’m your bride.”

Further details, though, are moot.

I’ve no more time to talk, nor room.

 

We joke like this in endless cycles

but to what end? Take Jeremiah,

Thomas, or any of their kind:

they’re rich in words, but what’s their use

if thought, alas, won’t tread a path

through a reader’s unmown mind?

 

“Who is the hero of this poem?

Just me alone? Or all of us?

Whoever’s neither prince nor lout?

Whoever’s got a singular voice,

however hushed? Let generations

to follow figure it out.”

 

O Hate! Don’t climb the walls inside

fiery Gehenna’s hellish wrath!

And calm your ardor, Envy!

Spite, you shouldn’t grind your teeth.

Yes, Derzhavin has finally risen

from his grave to bless me.

 

There is no death, but there is this mess:

is it Classical or just Baroque?

The world we see and the world we seek

are linked and bound to intermingle.

Behold: my katabasia

in honor of St. Thomas Week.

 

1999-2002

translated from Russian by Derek Mong & Anne O. Fisher
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what they call me

A poem by Shrawan Mukarung translated by Haris Adhikari

Shrawan-Mukarung      Haris Adhikari (2)

जङ्गली फूल

by Shrawan Mukarung

 

गाउँ

सहर

या नगरतिर

मलाई—

जङ्गली फूल भन्छन्

तर जङ्गलमै त

मेरो नाम अर्कै छ ।

Wild Flower

by Shrawan Mukarung

In villages,
cities
or towns,
what they call me is—
wild flower;
but I
do have a different name
in the jungle. 

translated from Nepali by Haris Adhikari
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the audible threshold of happiness

 Four poems by Gemma Gorga translated by Sharon Dolin

  Gemma Gorga      Sharon Dolin

In place of a book of hours, Gemma Gorga has composed something much more modest: a Book of Minutes. Though these prose poems do retain the meditative quality of prayer, they also share with aphorism the urge to delimit by compression: how much density can be packed into a small space. Here’s what drew me to translate them: Each time I read these diminutive poems, they open up a world for me. In that sense, they are inexhaustible as all poems and prayers should be. 

— Sharon Dolin

 

[Les flors del jardí parlen]

by Gemma Gorga

Les flors del jardí parlen en veu tan baixa que es fa difícil endevinar què diuen. ¿Seran tal vegada diàlegs d’amor, diàlegs socràtics que mantenen amb els insectes de llargues barbes, pesants i taciturns damunt l’elasticitat dels pètals? S’ondulen les cordes vocals de la llum, els rínxols sonors de l’aigua. Però arriba la ronda del record i trepitja les flors amb rudes bótes de sentinella. I em deixa asseguda —trista venedora de mistos— fora del llindar auditiu de la felicitat.

[Garden flowers speak]

by Gemma Gorga

Garden flowers speak in such hushed tones that it’s difficult to parse what they’re saying. Could they be dialogues of love, perhaps, Socratic dialogues they hold with long-bearded insects, heavy and reserved, resting on swaying petals? Light’s vocal cords undulate, as do the sonorous curls of water. But the memory patrol turns up and treads on the flowers with its rough sentry boots. And I am left seated—sad little match girl—outside the audible threshold of happiness.

translated from Catalan by Sharon Dolin
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[Sostens un bocí de vidre trencat]

by Gemma Gorga

Sostens un bocí de vidre trencat entre l’índex i el polze. A l’ànima estan tocant les dotze del migdia i algú mormola és l’hora de l’àngelus. El sostens amb paciència, fins que la llum, les campanes i les ales convergeixen en un únic punt sensible al dolor. I en l’aire s’incendia un ocell.

[You hold up a piece of broken glass]

by Gemma Gorga

You hold up a piece of broken glass between your index finger and thumb. It is chiming twelve-noon in your soul and someone murmurs, “It’s the hour for reciting the Angelus prayer.” You hold up the glass sliver patiently until the light, bells, and wings converge in one uniquely sensitive point of pain. And in the air a bird blazes up.

translated from Catalan by Sharon Dolin
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[Té sis punxes, com una estrella]

by Gemma Gorga

 

Té sis punxes, com una estrella, però no és una estrella. La cullo i la deso a la bossa, al costat del pot de neules, vigilant que no prengui mal amb el groc lacerant de la pinya. Un cop a casa, trio un enlloc preferent on col·locar-la, que estigui ben invisible als ulls de tothom. De vegades, amb el silenci de la nit, se sent passar la llarga caravana de la set: palmeres mil·lenàries, camells foscos com dàtils, vells astròlegs de barbes enfarinades. I és que la realitat és així, o aixà, i no s’hi pot fer més, malcriada i enganyosa. Per aquest motiu hi ha qui ja no la busca, per aquest motiu hi ha qui encara la troba. Vet aquí un nadal incomprensible com la vida mateixa, explicat en sis ratlles, com si fos un poema, però no és un poema.

[It has six points, like a star]

by Gemma Gorga

It has six points, like a star, but it’s not a star. I pick it up and put it in the bag, next to the can of wafers, taking care it remains unharmed by the lacerating, yellow pineapple. Once home, I choose some preferred who-knows-where to keep it that’s practically invisible to all eyes. Sometimes, in the night’s stillness, you can hear the long caravan of thirst pass by: thousand-year-old palm trees, camels dark as dates, ancient astrologers with flour in their beards. Because reality is like this, or like that (what can you do), spoiled and misleading. For this reason, there are those who no longer look for it; for this reason, there are those who still find it. Here is an incomprehensible nativity like life itself, explained in six lines, as if it were a poem, but it’s not a poem.

translated from Catalan by Sharon Dolin
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[El vent aixeca la faldilla a les margarides]

by Gemma Gorga

El vent aixeca la faldilla a les margarides i el món comença a rodolar cap per avall. És evident que les fades són totes rosses i viuen amagades a la punta del tacte —les margarides, que ho saben, han esclafit el riure—. Per què tanta resistència a la felicitat? D’acord. La llum, el gir, el vol: vet aquí els tres desitjos.

[The wind lifts the daisies' skirt]

by Gemma Gorga

The wind lifts the daisies’ skirt and the world begins to tumble upside down. Apparently, fairies are all blonde and live hidden at the touch of your fingertips—the daisies, knowing all about it, have broken into laughter. Why so much resistance to happiness? All right. Here are my three wishes: Light. Spin. Flight.

translated from Catalan by Sharon Dolin
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root-orgies, parasites, moldering clouds

Two poems by N. B. Minkov translated by Jordan Finkin

אין אונדזערע טעג

by N. B. Minkov

.אַ בלויער וואַלד. אַ שטומער. שטומער נאָך פון אַלע הימלען

.גערוך פון וואָרצל-אָרגיעס, שימלענדיקע כמאַרעס, פּאַראַזיטן

.ביים ראַנד — אַן איינזאַם ביידל. בלינד און טויטלעך ווייס

.גרינע בליצן שטאַרבן אין פאַרפּרעסטע בליטן

 

אַ טיר אן אויפגעריסענע. אַ וועווריק גילדענער שפּרינגט אומשולדיק פאַרביי.

.בלייבט שטיין דערשראָקן. האָרכט דעם שטומען וואַנזין פונעם וואַלד

.די קילקייט איז א שאַרפע און אַ קראַנקע

.ליכט פון שכינה אויף דער שוועל. איבער אים אַ טיפער זקן אויפגעהאַנגען

 

 

 

 

BESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswy

 

In Our Days

by N. B. Minkov

A blue forest. Silent. More silent than the heavens.

The odor of root-orgies, parasites, moldering clouds.

On the edge, a lonely hut. Blind and deathly white.

Green lightning withers in blighted blossoms.

 

A door torn open. A gilded squirrel jumps innocently by.

Stands frozen with fear. Listens to the silent madness of the forest.

The coolness is acrid and sick.

God’s Presence lights the doorway.

Above it a deep old man, hanged.

 

 

 

translated from Yiddish by Jordan Finkin
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דער לעצטער קנויט

by N. B. Minkov

וועט אויפגיין דיין פּנים? צווישן ריזיקע וואָרצלען

.זיץ איך — געהיט פון דער שלאַנג — און וואַרט

,דאָס טייכל גליווערט אין שוואַרצן דעמער

.און איך — ניט פאַרבלענדט — דאָך גענאַרט

 

.ניטאָ גאָר דיין פּנים? די שלאַנג דרעמלט רואיק

.איך ווער שוואַרצער. נט איך טראַכט. ניט איך רעד

.די נאַכט סמ’עט דעם וואַלד. דער וואַלד וואַקסט אָן אָטעם

.איך הער קלאָר, וואָס אומקלאָר געשעט

 

ביסט אַפילו קיין טרוים ניט געווען? און אַ נאָמען

.האָסטו. און כוהנים — און טעמפּלען געהאַט

.מיין שטרייט מיט דער שלאַנג — צוליב דיר דאָך געווען

?און געזיגט האָבן ביידע: איז דאָס ניט פאַרראַט

 

די נאַכט בלייבט שוין אייביק דאָ נאַכט. איך וואַרט שוין

.אויף קיינעם ניט מער. די שלאַנג לעבן מיר איז שוין טויט

.דאָס טייכל, וואָס אָטעמט נאָך, זע איך ניט מער

.פאַרזונקען אין חשכות פון בלוטן, לעשט זיך דער לעצטער קנויט 

 

 

 

The Last Wick

by N. B. Minkov

Will your face rise? The snake stands guard

As I sit among the giant roots, and wait.

The brook freezes in the black twilight,

And I, undeluded, am still deceived.

 

Is your face really gone? The snake’s napping restfully.

I grow darker. Neither thinking nor speaking.

The night poisons the forest. The forest swells without breath.

I hear clearly what unclearly happens.

 

Weren’t you even a dream? But you have

A name. And priests you had, temples.

My clash with the snake, it was for your sake.

And both were victorious. Is that not betrayal?

 

The night remains night here for good. I’m done waiting

For anyone. See how this snake is now dead.

The still breathing brook I can no longer see.

The last wick is quenched in the darkness of bloodshed.

 

 

 

translated from Yiddish by Jordan Finkin
more>>

the contrary to my virtue

Three poems by James Noël translated by Patricia Hartland

james noël

Les bruits du monde

by James Noël

tous les bruits

du monde

le roulement des pierres

dans le chavirement du jour

la rumeur du sang

dans le sexe des anges

déchus (pas tous

mais seulement ceux qui arrivent

sur la terre en parachutes)

les orgasmes

contrariés des volcans éteints

le cri des chats

qui baisent pile

dans un miaulement

en chœur des horloges

 

tous les bruits

du monde

roulent leurs tambour cassé

dans ma voix

Noises of the world

by James Noël

all the noises

of the world

rocks rolling

in the collapsing day

blood murmur

in the sex of angels

fallen (not all

but only those that arrive

on earth via parachute)

thwarted orgasms

of extinguished volcanoes

the moans of cats

that screw precisely

in a choral yowling

tuned to the clocks

 

all the noises

of the world

beat their broken drum

in my voice

translated from French by Patricia Hartland
more>>

La foudre

by James Noël

belle ta chevelure

enflammée

rousseur d’éclair

gardant de graves orages

derrière la tète

 

corde

qui avec moi rivalise

et m’avalise

 

comment sortir

s’il faut pour le sort

me libérer d’amour gordien

d’amour qui noue telle une cravate

bien par où l’on chante

quand on chante mal

 

dans la piscine

ce fond à forme liquide

cette forme fondue

par ce liquide que nous buvions sur mesure

en marge d’air

et du sot métier de se noyer

 

le soleil nous crible la face

en vrais gants de mariées sur les rayons

nous mourons comme deux chiens

toi

femelle jusqu’à ton mal

moi l’opposé jusqu’à mon bien

 

Lightning

by James Noël

beauty your mane

blazing

russet flash

harnessing solemn storms

behind your head

 

the cord that

rivals and

validates me

 

how to leave

if to leave

I must be liberated

from Gordian love

from love that knots

tightens such a tie

as one strains to sing

when one sings wrong

 

in the pool

depth in liquid form

this form dissolved

by that liquid we drank to size

 

beyond air’s margins

drowning’s a useless skill

 

the sun pierces our faces

the beams in true bride gloves

we die like two dogs

you

female to a fault

me

the contrary to my virtue

translated from French by Patricia Hartland
more>>

fleur de sang

by James Noël

pour grain de poussière

démord la vie

dévie la mort

 

le vent galope la corde au cou

en fracas d’élégie sur étrier

temps mis à mort au fil du temps

écartelé de feuilles mortes

de parenthèses à bras ouverts

pour des oiseaux en filigrane

d’attouchements à gants blessés

pour des baisers derrière la porte

 

rose effleure effleure

effleure bouquet de poings

très bien tendu du cannibale

hélant oye et halali

 

que par le bout de certitudes

ces affaires tranchées de cervelle d’homme

la honte puisse rendre

l’exquise couleur

d’une corolle de sang

blood flower

by James Noël

for dust speck

relinquishes life

deflects death

 

wind gallops cord-around-neck

an elegy ruckus stirrupped

 

time kills over time

quartered dead leaves

open-armed parentheses

for traces of birds

wounded-glove caresses

for behind-door kisses

 

rose

caress caress

caress fist bouquet

the cannibal’s clenched

hoop and holler

 

these edged affairs of man’s mind

that by the end of certainties

shame might yield

the exquisite color

of a blood corolla

translated from French by Patricia Hartland
more>>

My body kept clanging like the tin of your house

Two poems by Geet Chaturvedi translated by Anita Gopalan

 

GeetChaturvedi   AnitaGopalanGeet Chaturvedi’s poems are inseparably connected with the cultural history of India and linguistic memories of Hindi, the language in which he writes. The filtration and the sensibility of ideas and imagination make him a delightful, different poet. In a career spanning over two decades with only two books of poems to his credit (the first, a collection of 72 poems published in 2010 and the second, a collection of 63 poems forthcoming this year), he is considered a major poet of present Hindi literature—and, the most imitated. The various adjectives that he has earned, like ‘professor’, ‘master’, ‘avant-garde’ and ‘most-read contemporary Hindi poet,’ reflect the unmistakable aura of his poetry, his strong voice, inner lyrical beauty, multitude of meanings and the ‘text-appeal’. 

The appeal is also of a distinct playfulness with the language that gives the reader immense synesthetic pleasure, and of extraordinary metaphors and unusual imagery. As he wrote in the poem ‘Style’, for example:

The style in which sleep limns
We call it— creases

Making my forehead her bed
Don’t know who’d slept all night

Geet Chaturvedi’s poetics have also been shaped by his high exposure to the world poetry and contemporary poetic designs of the post-modern European literature; at the same time, they give a sense of rootedness to the Sanskrit-Pali poetic tradition of ancient India. Intertextuality is his trait and his poetry is filled with regional plays, which makes translation particularly difficult. On top of that, Hindi and English are two languages that have very different sentence construction, and also, Indian culture is very different from the western culture. Hence, it requires, at times, great effort to retain the same simplicity and meaning and musicality. For example, in the poem ‘Monsoon is a Sip of Water’, words in Hindi like aashad and poos are the Hindu calendar months coinciding with rains and humidity, and of biting cold respectively. I equated them to monsoon and winter. Keeping the words simple yet effective, I constructed the two lines as:

Monsoon is a sip of water
And winter, a mound of dry cough in the chest

The poem ‘Style’ limns in a style that the poet calls an ‘incoherent poetic structure’, a structure that he has been practicing since long, where each line or stanza creates a world of its own; woven around the most mundane things with a deceptive casualness, an emotive and philosophical sublimity is reached, as, for example, in these lines:

On some nights before sleep, my name is Heart
Morning after waking up I find my name History

The poems raise existential, political or philosophical concerns that reflect the candour, the cadences, wit and erudition.

—Anita Gopalan

 

शैली

by Geet Chaturvedi

हृदय का अपना इतिहास होता है

हृदय की अपनी सभ्यता होती है

 

ऊपर की इन पंक्तियों में रिल्के ने

हृदय की जगह हाथ लिखा था

 

एक दिन इन हाथों को याद आ जाएगा

कि किसी ज़माने में ये पंख हुआ करते थे

 

किसी रात सोने से पहले मेरा नाम हृदय होता है

सुबह उठने के बाद पाता हूं कि मेरा नाम इतिहास है

 

प्रकाश के वृत्त में अंधेरे की त्रिज्या

दार्शनिक स्वतंत्रता है

 

हर सीढ़ी अंतत: खत्म हो जाती है

ऊपर बहुत सारी ऊंचाई चढ़े जाने से बच जाती है

 

मैं हमेशा चप्पल पहनता हूं

फिर भी जानता हूं गीली भूमि का स्पर्श

 

एक पेड़ मौन रह देखता है मुझे

चाहे कितना भी दूर क्यों न चला जाऊं

 

एक दिन मैं शाम को उठा, पौधों में पानी दिया

मैंने उन्हें कोसा जिन्होंने नींद में मेरे साथ बुरा किया था

 

मैं उन्हें भूल गया जिन्होंने यथार्थ में मेरे साथ बुरा किया

मेरी प्राथमिकताएं स्पष्ट हैं

 

नींद जिस शैली में रेखांकन करती है

उसे हम सिलवटें कहते हैं

 

मेरे माथे को बिस्तर बना

जाने कौन सोया था सारी रात

 

तुम्हारी स्मृति

मेरे नमक का निबंध है

 

जागने की मेरी शैली

मेरी अज्ञानताओं के कारण बनती है 

Style

by Geet Chaturvedi

Heart has a history of its own

It has its own civilization

 

In the lines above, Rilke had 

Written hands in place of heart

 

These hands would someday remember 

That they at one time were wings

 

On some nights before sleep, my name is Heart

Morning after waking up I find my name History

 

The radius of darkness in a circle of light

Is philosophical independence

 

Every stairway going up eventually ceases

Above, considerable height remains unscaled

 

I always wear chappals

Yet understand the touch of wet earth

 

A tree silently watches me 

No matter how far I may wander

 

I rose one evening, watered the plants

I cursed those who had wronged me in sleep

 

I forgot those who have wronged me in reality

My preferences are obvious

 

The style in which sleep limns

We call it—creases

 

Making my forehead her bed 

Don’t know who’d slept all night

 

The memory of you

Is an essay of my salt

 

My style of waking 

Is shaped by my dark ignorance

translated from Hindi by Anita Gopalan
more>>

आषाढ़ पानी का घूंट है

by Geet Chaturvedi

तुम्हारी परछाईं पर गिरती रहीं बारिश की बूंदें

मेरी देह बजती रही जैसे तुम्हारे मकान की टीन

अडोल है मन की बीन

 

झरती बूंदों का घूंघट था तुम्हारे और मेरे बीच

तुम्हारा निचला होंठ पल-भर को थरथराया था

 

तुमने पेड़ पर एक निशान बनाया

फिर ठीक वहीं एक चोट दागी

प्रेम में निशानचियों का हुनर पैबस्त था

 

तुमने कहा प्रेम करना अभ्यास है

मैंने सारी शिकायतें अरब सागर में बहा दीं

 

धरती को हिचकी आती है

जल से भरा लोटा है आकाश

कौन याद कर रहा है उसे

वह एक-एक कर सारे नाम लेती है

मुझे भूल जाती है

मैं इतना पास था कि कोई यकीन ही नहीं कर सकता

जो इतना पास हो वह भी याद कर सकता है

 

स्वांग किसी अंग का नाम नहीं

 

आषाढ़ पानी का घूंट है

छाती में उगा ठसका है पूस

Monsoon is a sip of water

by Geet Chaturvedi

The raindrops kept falling on your shadow

My body kept clanging like the tin of your house

My heart’s music beat unrelenting unwavering

 

Between you and me, there was the veil of cascading droplets

For a fleeting moment, your lower lip twitched

 

You made a mark on the bole of the tree

And then shot at it right through

Shooters have an inherent finesse in love

 

But to love is a matter of practice, you proffered

I released all my grievances into the Arabian Sea

 

The sky is a potful of water

The earth hiccoughs

Who could be remembering her?

One by one she takes all names

Forgets mine

Nobody could perceive how close I’d been, how near

The one who’s so close so near could also remember

 

Pretence is not a name 

Of any limb or body part

 

Monsoon is a sip of water

And winter, a mound of dry cough in the chest

 

 

*When one hiccoughs, it is believed that someone is remembering that person.

translated from Hindi by Anita Gopalan
more>>

walled up between the hours

two poems by Amanda Reverón translated by Don Cellini

#14

by Amanda Reverón

era
monotonía 
muchacha
de manos rotas
sobre un extremo / de la noche
se quedó
tapiada entre las horas
ni un sólo latido
ni un sólo quejido 
que la delate
era algo así
(como un poco
de mí)

#14

by Amanda Reverón

it was

monotony

girl

with the broken hands

on one end / of the night

she stayed

walled up between the hours

not one heartbeat

not one whimper

to betray her

it was something like that

(like a little bit

of me)

translated from Spanish by Don Cellini
more>>
 

#15

by Amanda Reverón

lugar de siempre / por las tardes
me aferro
deshilachando
cabellos /y otros tiempos
ya no hay pájaros en la ventana
(sólo yo)
aún trinando
la 

honda melancolía

#15

by Amanda Reverón

same place as always / in the afternoon

I persist

in untangling

curls / and old times

there are no birds in the window any more

(just me)

still warbling

my

deep melancholy

translated from Spanish by Don Cellini
more>>
 

No more, you thought, could it stare back at you

Two poems by Allan Popa translated from Filipino by Mabi David and the author.

Mabi David                  Allan Popa

 

Aso

by Allan Popa

Hindi punyal hindi krusipiho ang hawak mo

nanggigigil na kinakaskas sa ilalim ng kaldero kahit

 

walang nasisimot kundi ang ngilong tinutugon

ng ungol sakal ng kadenang-asong nakatanikala sa iyo.

 

Anong pangangailangan pa ang nagpapalubay

sa iyong kapit upang haplusin siya sa noo, malupit

 

na kamay na malugod niyang inaabot upang basain  

ng dila na minsang nahuling dumidila sa kanyang

 

ari: matalim mo siyang tinitigan upang pahiyain.

Hindi na niya makakayang harapin

 

ang iyong tingin. Sa iyo siya nakatingin.

 

 

 

Dog

by Allan Popa

Neither crucifix nor knife

what you scrape against the pot’s bottom.

 

You scrape up nothing, not

a scrap off it, only a grating screech

 

to which the dog whines, choking at

the leash chained to you. Out of what need

 

would you loosen your grip to pet

its forehead? It licked your hand.

 

Once you caught it feverishly licking its own

sex and fixed on it, staring it into shame.

 

No more, you thought, could it stare

back at you. It stares back at you.

 

 

translated from Filipino by Mabi David & Allan Popa
more>>

Baboy

by Allan Popa

Malalasap pagbigkas ng baboy kung bakit baboy

ang mababasaging alkansiyang hindi nagawang

 

mapabigat bagamat matabang-mataba sa iyong palad.

 

Pinakinggan mo ang pag-alog sa kahungkagan

ng iilang sensilyong naihulog sa mabintog na tiyan,

 

tiningala’t sinilip ang dilim sa napakakitid na butas. 

 

Matatandaang ito ang gulang ng pagtuklas ng sarap

sa pagtuklap ng langib ng papahilom na sugat.

 

Nakapaglalaway, nakapangingiwi ng mga labi

 

ang pagsungkit, pagkupit ng pilak mula sa sarili

na mariing maikukuyom sa nangangati mong palad.

 

Malalasap pagbigkas ng baboy kung bakit baboy.

 

 

 

Pig

by Allan Popa

Savor as you say the word pig, why

it is a pig, this coin bank

 

you cannot for all its size make heavy.

 

You listen as you jangle the handful inside

its hollow distended belly, the teats you tilt

 

to peer past the chink into the dark,

 

remembering when you first discovered

what pleasure picking on a scab gave you.

 

You bite your lip to hold the drool in.

 

You try to snatch at the shiny silver, picking

your own pockets for all that you can

 

hog, and savor why, as you say the word, pig.

 

 

 

translated from Filipino by Mabi David & Allan Popa
more>>

…but any clever man is half a crook

Two excerpts from “Too Clever by Half” by Alexander Griboyedov translated by Betsy Hulick.

“Too Clever by Half” (usually called “Woe from Wit”) is a verse comedy by Alexander Griboyedov, a contemporary of Pushkin’s. It is a Russian classic. The plot is simple: Chatsky, after a three-year absence, returns to Moscow. He is in love with Sophie, who is carrying on a clandestine love affair with her father’s secretary, Molchalin, a careerist upstart who, in turn, fancies Liza, Sophie’s maid. Chatsky’s sharp social observations and contempt for the man she secretly loves leads her to circulate a scurrilous remour at a ball, that Chatsky is mad. Chatsky uncover’s Sophie’s betrayal and Sophie is disabused of her lover’s character. In the end, her father, Famusov, mistakes their showdown for a tryst, and fires off against them both. He has the last words of the play, “What will Princess Maria say?” indicating the social life of the period will settle back to its stultifying normal.

                                                                                                      —Betsy Hulick

[Зови меня вандалом:]

by Alexander Griboyedov

 Репетилов

                                Зови меня вандалом:
        Я это имя заслужил.
        Людьми пустыми дорожил!
Сам бредил целый век обедом или балом!
Об детях забывал! обманывал жену!
Играл! проигрывал! в опеку взят указом!
     Танцовщицу держал! и не одну:
                             Трех разом!
Пил мертвую! не спал ночей по девяти!
     Всё отвергал: законы! совесть! веру!

Чацкий

        Послушай! ври, да знай же меру;
        Есть от чего в отчаянье прийти.

 

 

                           * * * * *

 

Чацкий

    Да из чего беснуетесь вы столько?

Репетилов

Шумим, братец, шумим…

Чацкий

                                        Шумите вы? и только?

Репетилов

Не место объяснять теперь и недосуг,
        Но государственное дело:
        Оно, вот видишь, не созрело,
            Нельзя же вдруг.
Что за люди! mon cher! Без дальних я историй
     Скажу тебе: во-первых, князь Григорий!!
Чудак единственный! нас со́ смеху морит!
Век с англичанами, вся а́нглийская складка,
     И так же он сквозь зубы говорит,
И так же коротко обстрижен для порядка.
     Ты не знаком? о! познакомься с ним.
        Другой — Воркулов Евдоким,
     Ты не слыхал, как он поет? о! диво!
        Послушай, милый, особливо
     Есть у него любимое одно:
«А! нон лашьяр ми, но, но, но»  2.
        Еще у нас два брата:
Левон и Боринька, чудесные ребята!
Об них не знаешь что сказать;
Но если гения прикажете назвать:
     Удушьев Ипполит Маркелыч!!!
     Ты сочинения его
     Читал ли что-нибудь? хоть мелочь?
Прочти, братец, да он не пишет ничего;
     Вот эдаких людей бы сечь-то,
И приговаривать: писать, писать, писать;
В журналах можешь ты однако отыскать
     Его отрывок, взгляд и нечто.
     Об чем бишь нечто? — обо всем;
Все знает, мы его на черный день пасем.
Но голова у нас, какой в России нету,
Не надо называть, узнаешь по портрету:
     Ночной разбойник, дуэлист,
В Камчатку сослан был, вернулся алеутом,
     И крепко на руку нечист;
Да умный человек не может быть не плутом.
Когда ж об честности высокой говорит,
     Каким-то демоном внушаем:
     Глаза в крови, лицо горит,
     Сам плачет, и мы все рыдаем.
Вот люди, есть ли им подобные? Навряд…
Ну, между ими я, конечно, зауряд,
Немножко поотстал, ленив, подумать ужас!
Однако ж я, когда, умишком понатужась,
     Засяду, часу не сижу,
И как-то невзначай, вдруг каламбур рожу,
Другие у меня мысль эту же подцепят,
И вшестером, глядь, водевильчик слепят,
Другие шестеро на музыку кладут,
Другие хлопают, когда его дают.
     Брат, смейся, а что любо, любо:
Способностями бог меня не наградил,
Дал сердце доброе, вот чем я людям мил,
     Совру — простят…

 

[Call me a barbarian!]

"Too Clever by Half," Act IV

by Alexander Griboyedov

Chatsky, about to leave the ball, is buttonholed by Repetilov (pronounced Repetílov). In Russian there are two verbs for “to lie,” one to lie out and out, the other to fabricate. Repetilov is that uniquely Russian type  who flies into a sort of ecstasy when lying.

 

REPETILOV

            Call me a barbarian!

For vicious living I’m your man.

I’ve traveled in an idle, worthless set,

been mad for balls, the whirl of social life,

ignored my children, cheated on my wife,

gambled recklessly, piled debt on top of debt,

defaulted on a mortgage, ruined my best friend,

kept a ballerina, no, not one, but three,

and kept them simultaneously.

went drunk and missing for a fortnight,

set conscience, law, religion all on end.

I tell you—

 

CHATSKY

                       Your lies are out of sight.

Lie of course, but exercise restraint.

Yours would make the stoutest heart grow faint.

 

                                    And later, in a parody of liberal secret societies:

 

CHATSKY

But why get so worked up? What for?

 

REPETILOV

To stir the pot, to stir the pot, mon cher!

 

CHATSKY

To stir the pot? Nothing more?

 

REPETILOV

Now’s no time or place to give an explanation.

I can only tell you it’s a state affair;

we’re in the early stages of our preparation.

Such men! In short, Prince Gregory, for one,

Eccentric? Funny? There’s no comparison!

A dedicated Anglophile:

clips his vowels, crops his hair,

You haven’t met him? Wait awhile,

you will. Let’s see: Who else is there?

Eudókimus Vorkúlov: What a singing voice!

Ah, Non lashiarmi no no no!

That’s his aria of choice.

Then Boris and his brother, Leo,

splendid fellows,  say no more.

But if it’s genius that you’re looking for,

Udúshev, Ípolit Markélich—he’s your man.

You must have read him once upon a time.

I used to be his biggest fan.

No new work for ages! It’s a crime!

Flog these idlers—it will serve them right—

and sentence them to write, write, write!

He’s published articles still widely read

in reprint: Shards. Envision. Nought.

What is Nought about? Better left unsaid.

How much he knows! And all of it self-taught.

We’re keeping him for when the time is ripe.

Our leader is a Russian without peer.

Why name him when his portrait makes it clear

just who he is, a dueling, fractious type;

was exiled to Kamchatka, trekked a thousand miles

returning via the Aleutian Isles.

Some skeletons, no player by the book,

but any clever man is half a crook.

When nobility of soul or honor is addressed,

his flaming cheeks and bloodshot eyes

clothe him in the aspect of a man possessed.

He breaks out weeping, and the whole room cries.

Where are people to be found like these?

Among them all, no mediocrities

except myself—a lazy dog, not up to snuff.

But I’ve been known, when thinking hard enough,

to come up with a genial pun or turn of phrase

to turn into a vaudeville: six will write the verse,

another six compose, another six rehearse

and all the rest supply applause and praise.

You laugh, but brother, we enjoy ourselves, we do!

My heart is good, if my abilities are few,

BESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswyBESbswy

that’s why I’m liked, why I’m forgiven for my lies!

translated from Russian by Betsy Hulick
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[Вы помиритесь с ним, по размышленьи зрелом. ]

by Alexander Griboyedov

Вы помиритесь с ним, по размышленьи зрелом.
     Себя крушить, и для чего!
Подумайте, всегда вы можете его
Беречь, и пеленать, и спосылать за делом.
Муж-мальчик, муж-слуга, из жениных пажей —
Высокий идеал московских всех мужей. —
Довольно!.. с вами я горжусь моим разрывом.
А вы, суда́рь отец, вы, страстные к чинам:
Желаю вам дремать в неведеньи счастливом,
Я сватаньем моим не угрожаю вам.
     Другой найдется благонравный,
     Низкопоклонник и делец,
     Достоинствами наконец
     Он будущему тестю равный.
     Так! отрезвился я сполна,
Мечтанья с глаз долой — и спала пелена;
        Теперь не худо б было сряду
     На дочь и на отца
        И на любовника-глупца,
И на весь мир излить всю желчь и всю досаду.
С кем был! Куда меня закинула судьба!
Все гонят! все клянут! Мучителей толпа,
В любви предателей, в вражде неутомимых,
     Рассказчиков неукротимых,
Нескладных умников, лукавых простяков,
     Старух зловещих, стариков,
Дряхлеющих над выдумками, вздором, —
Безумным вы меня прославили всем хором.
Вы правы: из огня тот выйдет невредим,
     Кто с вами день пробыть успеет,
     Подышит воздухом одним,
     И в нем рассудок уцелеет.
Вон из Москвы! сюда я больше не ездок.
Бегу, не оглянусь, пойду искать по свету,
Где оскорбленному есть чувству уголок! —
        Карету мне, карету!

                                                           (Уезжает.)

[You’ll make it up with him, once you’ve thought it over—]

"Too Clever by Half," Act IV

by Alexander Griboyedov

In the denouement, Sophie learns her love for Molchalin is deluded, and Chatsky learns that Sophie started the rumor he was mad: In Griboyedov’s own words, he “spits in her face and everyone else’s” and takes off.

 

 

You’ll make it up with him, once you’ve thought it over—

He trumps a future with all hope removed.

Imagine what a prize you’ll get,

an errand boy,  domestic pet

to stroke and coddle, Moscow’s

picture of the ideal spouse.

Enough! This break restores my pride.

But you, sir, father-of-the- bride,

with your fine appreciation

for degrees of rank and station,

may you enjoy the blissful ease

of wanton ignorance, now and ever:

I’ve no intention whatsoever

of offering for your daughter’s hand.

Another who can’t fail to please,

underhanded, smooth and bland,

with all a toady’s fawning qualities

has that honor. He will do you proud!

There! I’m sane! No dreams becloud

my reason. I’ve nothing more to lose!

It’s their turn now to suffer the abuse

they turned on me—father, daughter,

witless lover—I’ll pour  my bitterness

and gall on each of them in order,

on all the world, and its maliciousness!

Where was I thrown up by fate:

What people was I cast among?

A hateful mob, eager to calumniate:

the spinster with a spiteful tongue,

the evil-minded reprobate,

the denigrator, cutting down to size,

the clever parasite, self-regarding fool,

tittering maidens scarcely out of school,

decrepit graybeards, feeding off of lies—

all declared me mad, in one concerted choir.

And right they were. Take it for a fact:

A man could pass unharmed through fire

who spent a day with them and kept his mind intact.

Farewell to Moscow, to its days and nights!

I’m off to search the wide world round

for somewhere I can go to ground

and set insulted sense to rights.

My carriage! Bring my carriage round!

translated from Russian by Betsy Hulick
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