Stone Breaking

In honor of Civic Day, we present this work by a noteworthy Canadian civil servant.

Duncan Campbell Scott
Canadian
1862 – 1947

 

March wind rough
Clashed the trees,
Flung the snow;
Breaking stones,
In the cold,
Germans slow
Toiled and toiled;
Arrowy sun
Glanced and sprang,
One right blithe
German sang:
Songs of home,
Fatherland:
Syenite hard,
Weary lot,
Callous hand,
All forgot:
Hammers pound,
Ringing round;
Rise the heaps,
To his voice,
Bounds and leaps
Toise on toise:
Toil is long,
But dear God
Gives us song,
At the end
Gives us test,
Toil is best.

Turn

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.

Vijayalakshmi
Indian
b. 1960

 

The insulted corpse spoke to me at night:

Can’t you see what’s planted in my hands?
Definitely, this gun isn’t mine.
I do not recognize bullets,
except the one that pierced me.
Those diary entries aren’t mine,
the hitlists were appended later.
Though murdered, I’m not a dimwit.
If so,
even I want to see the hellish diary
that added our names into the hit list,
a diary that vanished
because it was never written.

After death,
I came to know from the rotten,
decaying, withered,
powdered and wounded corpses
about the guns that were planted
between their dead fingers,
about the insult thrust upon them
by exhibiting their gun wielding pictures,
about romantic diary notes
that were written in their names.
Corpses don’t lie.
We are the truth, the sole truth.
But what can corpses do?

We can.
Even if we are erased from days
and appended to newspapers,
bulletin boards and
lazy after-dinner miniscreens,
even if our lifeless recline
is repeatedly insulted,
our blood silently appears
in honest mirrors at night.
Pressing the lips
against every ear that is awake,
It will chant this till sunrise:
Do not sleep.
What dawns is your turn.

To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

Richard Lovelace
English
1617 – 1657

 

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.

Home

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

Leila Kasra
Persian
1939 – 1989

 

Still, on the boughs of the trees, there are only crows
Ah, The flowers are withered
There is a madman in the garden
My heart is like a goblet of fire
My body is like a stove (burns so bad)
But there is not even a light in the whole world
There is not even a light, there is not even a light

I came from the other side of the world to this place
Don’t tell me the world is beautiful, I don’t see that
Still, there is sorrow in my heart, it is a strong torment
Don’t tell me not to cry
Don’t tell me life is short

Which nocturnal mourn? Which nightly summon?
Which spell and magic? Which romantic prayer?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved
Would lead me to my beloved, would lead me to my beloved

Which way? Which road?
Which tear? Which moan?
Which cloud and which zenith?
Which tide and which moon?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved

Still, caravan of love doesn’t reach its destination
We are drowned and our voice doesn’t reach the shore
Doesn’t reach the shore

Still, there are tears in my eyes
My stare is at the road (waiting for the beloved one)
There is no sun, no moon
How dark is the world! How dark is the world!

Which way? Which road?
Which tear? Which moan?
Which cloud and which zenith?
Which tide and which moon?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved

The Garden

In honor of the Moroccan holiday, Enthronement, we present this work by one of Morocco’s great living poets.

Abdelkarim Tabbal
Moroccan
b. 1931

 

Once this green grass
spoke love to me
whispered to me inside my feet
and so I fell in the lap of greenery
besieged in perfume
drinking the wine of wine
Once it sought to find inside my body
the stem
within my voice
the branches
in my wanderings
the shadows
It grew high in me and I in it
It clung to my mirror
At our reunion it adorned itself
with what is in the water
and in the sun
and in the music
and the dream
Stones summoned life’s passion
Life’s breath was roused. Children.
The voluptuous wind
vents its anger at me
The river nymph and I
sneak away to our secret place
and there she reveals the birth of trees
discloses the secrets of the garden to be
But who of you, travellers
from night to night
tattle-tales
of the sea and its waves
enemies of the flowers
Who of you
trampled the heart
leaving behind only ruins
only the chaff scattering about in forgetfulness?
You can do nothing
The seed is lodged safely in the depths.

Graves

We present this work in honor of Tisha B’Av.

Moses ben Jacob ibn Ezra
Arab Andalusian
c. 1055 – c. 1138

 

And where are the graves, so many graves
Of all who have died on the earth since the beginning?
Grave tunnelling into grave,
Headstone and obelisk crumbled into one dust,
Bodies heaped upon bodies, in motionless orgy—
All sleeping together in deep holes,
Fragments of chalk,
Stained rubies.

The Frog

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 150th birthday.

Hilaire Belloc
French
1870 – 1953

 

Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As ‘Slimy skin,’ or ‘Polly-wog,’
Or likewise ‘Ugly James,’
Or ‘Gap-a-grin,’ or ‘Toad-gone-wrong,’
Or ‘Bill Bandy-knees’:
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).

To Her Father With Some Verses

We present this work in honor of Parents’ Day.

Anne Bradstreet
English
1612 – 1672

 

Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,
If worth in me or ought I do appear,
Who can of right better demand the same
Than may your worthy self from whom it came?
The principal might yield a greater sum,
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,
My bond remains in force unto this day;
Yet for part payment take this simple mite,
Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.
Such is my debt I may not say forgive,
But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;
Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,
Yet paying is not paid until I die.

Spring 1946

We present this work in honor of the 70th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Elisabeth Langgässer
German
1899 – 1950

 

(for Cordelia)

So you return
My sweet Anemone –
All brilliant stamen, calyx, crown –
Making it worth the devastation,
Like Nausicaa?

Windblown and bowing –
Wave and spray and light –
What whirling joy at last
Has lifted up this weight
From shoulders bent with dust?

Now I arise
Out of the toad’s domain –
Pluto’s reddish glare still under my eyelids –
And the hideous pipe of the guide to the dead
Still in my ears.

I have seen the iron gleam
In the Gorgon’s eye.
I have heard the hiss, the whisper,
The rumor that she would kill me:
It was a lie.

Anemone, my daughter,
Let me kiss your face: it is
Unmirrored by the waters
Of Lethe or the Styx.
And innocent of no or not.

And see, you are alive
And here – there’s no deception –
And quiet in the way you touch my heart
Yet do not rake its fires –
My child, my Nausicaa!