Love Arm’d

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 380th birthday.

Aphra Behn
English
1740 – 1689

 

Love in Fantastique Triumph satt,
Whilst bleeding Hearts around him flow’d,
For whom Fresh pains he did create,
And strange Tryanic power he show’d;
From thy Bright Eyes he took his fire,
Which round about, in sport he hurl’d;
But ‘twas from mine he took desire,
Enough to undo the Amorous World.
From me he took his sighs and tears,
From thee his Pride and Crueltie;
From me his Languishments and Feares,
And every Killing Dart from thee;
Thus thou and I, the God have arm’d,
And sett him up a Deity;
But my poor Heart alone is harm’d,
Whilst thine the Victor is, and free.

The Pines

In honor of the Argentine holiday, Independence Day, we present this work by one of Argentina’s most independent voices.

Silvina Ocampo
Argentine
1903 – 1993

 

You didn’t listen to the beating of a tree’s heart,
couched against the trunk gazing upwards,
you didn’t see the leaves moving
with the throb of a heart,
you didn’t feel the shudder
of the swaying branches above your body,
you didn’t listen to the heart of the pines
when the wind moves them and those leaves
that are like green fragrant pins
fall, and when the clouds pass,
you didn’t see that the world was turning,
the entire world, and you didn’t feel
that the sky was drawing near,
was entering inside the pines,
and that you were disappearing, penetrating with it
inside the pines, becoming in that sky another tree.

The Bloody Fight Has Ceased

We present this work in honor of the 110th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Eusebio Lillo
Chilean
1826 – 1910

 

I

The bloody fight has ceased;
and yesterday’s invader is now our brother;
three centuries we washed the affront
fighting in the field of honor.
That who yesterday was a slave
is free and triumphant today;
freedom is the heritage of the brave,
Victory lies shameful to his feet.

II

Rise, Chile, with a spotless forehead;
you conquered your name on the fight;
always noble, constant and courageous
the children of the Cid found you.
May your free calmly crown
the arts, industry and peace,
and may they sing songs of your triumph
to intimidate the daring despot.

III

Your names, brave soldiers
who have been Chile’s mainstay,
they are engraved in our chests;
our children will know them as well.
May they be the death cry
that comes out when we march to the fight,
and ringing in the mouth of the strong
they always make the tyrant tremble.

IV

If the foreign cannon intends
to invade, daring, our people;
let’s draw our arms
and know victory or death.
With its blood the proud Araucanian
inherited its courage to us;
and the sword doesn’t tremble in the hand
of that who defends the honor of Chile.

V

How pure, Chile, is your blue sky
And how pure the breezes that blow across you
And your countryside embroidered with flowers
Is a wonderful copy of Eden
How majestic are the snow-covered mountains
That were given to you by God as protection
And the sea that tranquilly bathes your shores
Promises future splendor for you

VI

That pride, oh, Homeland!, those flowers
growing on your fertile soil,
may they never be stepped on by invaders;
may your shadow cover them with peace.
Our chests will be your bastion
in your name we will know how to win,
or your noble, glorious emblem
will see us fall in the fight.

Beloved Homeland, receive the vows
That Chile gave you on your altars
That you be either the tomb of the free
Or a refuge from oppression

Wet pain… tread with care

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 55th birthday.

Legeso Rampolokeng
South African
b. 1965

 

tattered rain
& i’m navy blue
in the frayed streets
pressure reaching down
& slow magic coming on
drum flute & the night whistle
mute music of torn throats

& then
tongues twisted around on themselves
spew out froth
green
rabid at yellow dusk…

& the night gathers its red soaked apparel
staggers home

Twilight

Juana Borrero
Cuban
1877 – 1896

 

All is peace and calm… In the twilight
The aroma of jasmines can be smelled,
And, over the glassy surface of the river,
Is heard the flapping wings of the swans

Which, like a bunch of snowy flowers,
Glide over the smooth water surface.
Now the dusky bats reemerge
From their many secret hiding places,

And a thousand turns, and capricious spins
They make in the tranquil atmosphere;
Or fly very close to the ground,

Barely grazing with their gray wings
The yellow petal of the bitter thistle,
Or the virgin corolla of the humble mallow.

Today I Drank Wine and Was Drunk

Pir Sultan Abdal
Turkish
1480 – 1550

 

Today I drank wine and was drunk
I swear, I cannot hold my tongue
Today I was so pleased with my Dervish
I swear, I forgot all about death

The world appears completely empty
My Dervish brings me pleasure
He is exuberant whenever he loves
I swear, I love my Dervish

The morsel the Dervish proffers is permitted for me
The tavern is my pilgrim‘s kabaa
The barking of the patrolling hounds
I swear, does not block my way

Let the Dervish come and be cross with me
Let my arm embrace his neck
Let the arms that are drawn away be broken
I swear, I cannot withdraw my arm

If I enter his embrace uncovered
If he sleeps and I love silently
If he awakes and he speaks rudely
I swear, I cannot withdraw my hand

I am Latife I am so shameless
I love greatly and I am so brazen
I know nothing of shame and honour
I swear, I will pluck my rose

Fellow Citizens

In honor of Independence Day, we present this work by one of the most quintessentially American of all American poets.

Carl Sandburg
American
1878 – 1967

 

I drank musty ale at the Illinois Athletic Club with the millionaire manufacturer of Green River butter one night

And his face had the shining light of an old-time Quaker, he spoke of a beautiful daughter, and I knew he had a peace and a happiness up his sleeve somewhere. Then I heard Jim Kirch make a speech to the Advertising Association on the trade resources of South America.

And the way he lighted a three-for-a-nickel stogie and cocked it at an angle regardless of the manners of our best people,

I knew he had a clutch on a real happiness even though some of the reporters on his newspaper say he is the living double of Jack London’s Sea Wolf.

In the mayor’s office the mayor himself told me he was happy though it is a hard job to satisfy all the office-seekers and eat all the dinners he is asked to eat.

Down in Gilpin Place, near Hull House, was a man with his jaw wrapped for a bad toothache,

And he had it all over the butter millionaire, Jim Kirch and the mayor when it came to happiness.

He is a maker of accordions and guitars and not only makes them from start to finish, but plays them after he makes them.

And he had a guitar of mahogany with a walnut bottom he offered for seven dollars and a half if I wanted it,

And another just like it, only smaller, for six dollars, though he never mentioned the price till I asked him,

And he stated the price in a sorry way, as though the music and the make of an instrument count for a million times more than the price in money.

I thought he had a real soul and knew a lot about God.

There was light in his eyes of one who has conquered sorrow in so far as sorrow is conquerable or worth conquering.

Anyway he is the only Chicago citizen I was jealous of that day.

He played a dance they play in some parts of Italy when the harvest of grapes is over and the wine presses are ready for work.

On the Tower

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
German
1797 – 1848

 

I stand aloft on the balcony,
The starlings around me crying,
And let like maenad my hair stream free
To the storm o’er the ramparts flying.
Oh headlong wind, on this narrow ledge
I would I could try thy muscle
And, breast to breast, two steps from the edge,
Fight it out in a deadly tussle.

Beneath me I see, like hounds at play,
How billow on billow dashes;
Yea, tossing aloft the glittering spray,
The fierce throng hisses and clashes.
Oh, might I leap into the raging flood
And urge on the pack to harry

The hidden glades of the coral wood,
For the walrus, a worthy quarry!
From yonder mast a flag streams out
As bold as a royal pennant;
I can watch the good ship lunge about
From this tower of which I am tenant;
But oh, might I be in the battling ship,
Might I seize the rudder and steer her,
How gay o’er the foaming reef we’d slip
Like the sea-gulls circling near her!

Were I a hunter wandering free,
Or a soldier in some sort of fashion,
Or if I at least a man might be,
The heav’ns would grant me my passion.

But now I must sit as fine and still
As a child in its best of dresses,
And only in secret may have my will
And give to the wind my tresses.