from Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe
English
1564 – 1593

 

Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack’d;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear’d to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa’s azur’d arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!

To the Duke of Leipzig

We present this work in honor of the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Else Lasker-Schuler
German
1869 – 1945

 

Your eyes have perished;
You have been so long at sea.

But I too
Am lacking a beach.

My temples are made of shell,
Weeds and sea-stars hang on me.

Some day I want to rove
With my aimless hand across your face,

Or be a lizard on your lips
Curling up in the thrall of love.

Incense streams out of your skin,
I want to celebrate

And bring you all my gardens.
My heart breaks out in blossoms everywhere.

Sad Song

María Enriqueta Camarillo
Mexican
1872 – 1968

 

What a squalid alleyway
Is that old Santero Street!
There you hear but one bird’s lay—
The grizzly owl’s ill-omened bleat.
What cobbles ‘neath its low eaves meet,
What hovels poot! All, all, they beat
My heart into the clay!

O stranger, go not, I entreat,
Go not through old Santero Street;
It is the squalid alleyway,
Where lies the carpenter’s retreat
That made my darling’s coffin dray.

Winter in America

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, we present this work by a poet who helped lead the campaign to establish the holiday.

Gil Scott-Heron
American
1949 – 2011

 

From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain

Just like the cities staggered on the coastline
Living in a nation that just can’t stand much more
Like the forest buried beneath the highway
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
‘Cause nobody knows what to say
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America

The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain

And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or been betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save

Tram and Acropolis

Nikos Engonopoulos
Greek
1907 – 1985

 

le soleil me brule et me rend lumineux

through the monotonous rain
the mud
the ashen atmosphere
the trams pass
and through the deserted marketplace
• deadened by the rain –
they proceed towards
the
terminals

my thought
filled with emotion
follows them lovingly until
they reach
there where the fields begin
where the fields are drowned by the rain
at the terminals

what sorrow it would have been – my God –
what sorrow
if my heart was not consoled
by the hope of marble
and the prospect of a bright sunray
which shall give new life
to the splendid ruins

exactly like
a red flower
amid green leaves

Oh, They Have Robbed Me of the Hope

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 200th birthday.

Anne Brontë
English
1820 – 1849

 

Oh, they have robbed me of the hope
My spirit held so dear;
They will not let me hear that voice
My soul delights to hear.
They will not let me see that face
I so delight to see;
And they have taken all thy smiles,
And all thy love from me.

Well, let them seize on all they can:—
One treasure still is mine,—
A heart that loves to think on thee,
And feels the worth of thine.