Since I am Forgotten

Guillaume de Machaut
French
1300 – 1377

 

Since I am forgotten by you, sweet friend,
To a love life, and to happiness, I bid goodbye.
Unlucky was the day I put my love in you,
Since I am forgotten by you, sweet friend.
Yet I will keep what I have promised you,
Which is that never will I have another lover.
Since I am forgotten by you, sweet friend,
To a love life, and to happiness, I bid goodbye.

Still Falls the Rain

Dame Edith Sitwell
English
1887 – 1964

 

Still falls the Rain—
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter’s Field, and the sound of the impious feet

On the Tomb:
Still falls the Rain

In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain
Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

Still falls the Rain
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us—
On Dives and on Lazarus:
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

Still falls the Rain—
Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man’s wounded Side:
He bears in His Heart all wounds,—those of the light that died,
The last faint spark
In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,
The wounds of the baited bear—
The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat
On his helpless flesh… the tears of the hunted hare.

Still falls the Rain—
Then— O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me doune—
See, see where Christ’s blood streames in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world,—dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar’s laurel crown.

Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain—
“Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee.”

To—

We present this work in honor of the Argentine holiday, May Day Revolution.

José Rivera Indarte
Argentine
1814 – 1845

 

Written on the Gulf of Mexico

The windswept waves are rolling high,
Our bark bounds o’er an angry sea,
The storm is blackening the sky,
But all my soul is fixed on thee.

Oh, pray for me, thou gentle one,
To him who rules earth, sea and air;
And moved by thy celestial tone,
He yet my wayward life may spare.

It was no strain of earthly love
Which drew my being unto thine;
It was a call from heaven above,
An opening unto love divine.

Thou art with me where high or low,
These widely-wandering steps may roam;
And all the joys of heaven I know,
Are visioned in thy peaceful home.

Before thy presence crossed my life,
Full many a wish strayed wide and far,
To the poor gains of civil strife,
The blood stained laurels snatched from war.

The treacherous lures of low desires,
The breath of popular applause;
But thou hast kindled purer fires,
And oped my eyes to higher laws.

Still bear me ever in thy heart,
E’en though the burden bring thee pain;
‘Tis agony, indeed to part;
But Oh, ‘tis bliss to meet again!

Stranger

We present this work in honor of Eid al-Fitr.

Tahereh Saffarzadeh
Persian
1936 – 2008

 

I am a pantheon of feelings,
and I will not hold you–Snowdrift of lies–
I fear you will turn to ice the memories I cherish,
remember of humanity.
I am that lonely one who understands,
the agony of loneliness,
the silence of the tolerant,
the wrath of the inflamed.
But I never understand you,
—all insouciance and silly cheer.

Will the Years Roll By While You Mark Time?

Nontsizi Mgqwetho
South African
c. 1880? – c. 1930?

 

Where’s human kindness? The sense of a nation?
The land of warriors with tossing crane plumes?
Where is royalty? There’s nothing of value:
all that we once had is gone!!

Will all the years roll by?
Will you mark time through this year too?
Your family’s left you; your stock have left you.
They’re now the stock of the Mutton Gluttons.

Mqoma said so, and they called him mad
for spurning the madness of surrender.
In the light of day you sold your kingdom
and went looking for a wife.

Christians, where are your bibles today?
I’d better stop: I get too angry.
Truly, these people from overseas
used them to rob us of house and home.

What they gave us to drink was bitter.
Africa, how have you sinned?
Drought afflicts you, your rivers dry up.
What do they say in the far northeast?

Maqoma said so, and they called him mad
for spurning the madness of surrender.
Now there’s no one we can trust:
we shunned even God our only hope.

Will you mark time through this year too?
For long I’ve said so, now this year says:
“Though lacking faith, please come home,
those glittering baubles aren’t for you.”

And what about these marriages
Made and broken in a day?
We’ve become neither fish nor fowl,
The walking dead unfamiliar to God.

Will all the years roll by?
This year says: “Gird yourself
to seek the source of your condition,
why you’re so and why you starve.”

Go back to where you came from
as Ntsikana said in dying.
Don’t use the truth to make a deal:
this cash led us astray.

Seek the seers to tell you straight
what the ancient of days divines
so you speak fearlessly with that knowledge:
a nation that fears, is a nation of liars.

There’s the pass in a nation of liars,
there’s the raid in a nation of liars,
and scripture foresses more,
by my forefathers and father who sired me.

You’re coming home!!

A Ballad of John Silver

We present this work in honor of National Maritime Day.

John Masefield
English
1878 – 1967

 

We were schooner-rigged and rakish,
with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the crossbones and the skull;
We’d a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.

We’d a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It’s a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter dashed with other peoples brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank.
And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.

O! then it was (while standing by the taffrail on the poop)
We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken coop;
Then, having washed the blood away, we’d little else to do
Than to dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.

O! the fiddle on the fo’c’sle, and the slapping naked soles,
And the genial “Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!”
With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead,
And the look-out not a-looking and his pipe-bowl glowing red.

Ah! the pig-tailed, quidding pirates and the pretty pranks we played,
All have since been put a stop to by the naughty Board of Trade;
The schooners and the merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset in the islands of the Blest.

Narcissus

Stella Díaz Varín
Chilean
1926 – 2006

 

I’m absent from laughter
and everything happy men possess.
While blood flees like a deer
through every landscape
for no apparent reason,
as if believing that the most remote images
silence our thought.
Still upright, despite
those dark-rooted suns,
I approach your winged figure,
your little vertigos,
and teach you to watch
like only fish can,
in orbits unfamiliar to your hands.
I emerge -little god-
from the most secluded womb
to join you with a perfectly measured distance.

We share a certain gaze,
and an open door
to encumber our conversations;
leaning on the frame, gathered there
like the abandoned gather themselves,
nursing an ancient music
even greater than life and death.
And you revolt, known angel, anticipating the fall.

Truth prefers this behavior.
That’s how you come and go
and wrap yourself in the luminescence of old stars
so that I can watch your skeleton,
knowing full well that there’s nothing more beautiful
than the becoming of sea into bones.

In the end one gets used to
no one saying goodbye,
and to perceiving sound
in the palm of a hand,
like sea horses
sense love
as they caress each other’s fishbone spines.

Beautified in a drop of water
seen through thirst,
you come to know my first workdays.
The steep channels that led God
to unite snow, tree heart,
bile, dark resin,
indecision, pendulum, eternity,
and night through eyes.