Hey There, Russia, Mother Country

We present this work in honor of Russia’s National Day.

06-12 Yesenin
Sergei Yesenin
Russian
1895 – 1925

 

Hey there, Russia, mother country,
Cottages in icon guise…
Never-ending land of wonder,
Vistas blue that suck the eyes.

Like a passing holy pilgrim
On your fields I turn my gaze,
On the outskirts of poor villages
Rustling poplars pine and fade.

Smelling of sweet honey and apples
Churches celebrate the Lord
And the sounds of festive dancing
Fill the fields and meadows broad.

Off into the open country
Down a beaten path I run
And to meet me, light as catkins,
Peals of girlish laughter come.

If the heavenly host should beg me:
“Come to live in heaven above!”
I shall say: “Don’t give me heaven
But the Russia that I love.”

Ilka Blade o’ Grass Keps Its Ain Drap o’ Dew

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 215th birthday.

06-11 Ballantine
James Ballantine
Scots
1806 – 1877

 

Confide ye aye in Providence, for Providence is kind,
And bear ye a’ life’s changes, wi’ a calm and tranquil mind,
Though pressed and hemmed on every side, ha’e faith and ye ‘ll win through,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Gin reft frae friends or crest in love, as whiles nae doubt ye’ve been,
Grief lies deep hidden in your heart or tears flow frae your een,
Believe it for the best, and trow there’s good in store for you,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.
In lang, lang days o’ simmer, when the clear and cloudless sky
Refuses ae wee drap o’ rain to nature parched and dry,
The genial night, wi’ balmy breath, gars verdure spring anew,
And ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Sae, lest ‘mid fortune’s sunshine we should feel owre proud and hie,
And in our pride forget to wipe the tear frae poortith’s ee,
Some wee dark clouds o’ sorrow come, we ken na whence or hoo,
But ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

The Salutation of Ibm Mashish

06-10 Mashish
Abdeslam Ibn Mashish Alami
Moroccan
1163 – 1228

 

O Allah shower Your blessings upon him from whom burst open the secrets,
From whom stream forth the lights,
And in whom rise up the realities,
And upon whom descended the sciences of Adam, by which all creatures are made powerless,
And blessings upon him before whom all understanding is diminished.
None of us totally comprehend him, whether in the past or the future.
The gardens of the spiritual kingdom blossom ornately with the resplendence of his beauty,
And the reservoirs of the World of Dominion overflow with the outpouring of his light.
There is nothing that is not connected to him,
Because if there were no intercessor, everything to be interceded for would vanish, as it is said.
So bless him with a prayer that is worthy of You, from You, as befits his stature.
O Allah indeed he is Your all-encompassing secret that leads through You to You
And he is Your Supreme Veil raised before You, between Your Hands.
O Allah include me among his descendants and confirm me through his account
And let me know him with a deep knowledge that keeps me safe from the wells of ignorance,
So that I might drink to fullness from the wells of excellence.
Carry me on his path to Your Presence
Encompassed by Your Victory,
And strike through me at the false so that I may destroy it.
Plunge me into the seas of Oneness,
Pull me out of the morass of metaphorical Unity,
And drown me in the Essence of the Ocean of Unicity
Until I neither see, nor hear, nor find, nor sense, except through It.
O Allah make the Supreme Veil the life of my spirit
And his soul the secret of my reality
And his reality the conflux of my worlds
Through the realization of the First Truth.
O First! O Last! O Manifest! O Most Hidden!
Hear my call as You heard the call of your servant Zachary
And grant me victory through You for You,
And support me through You, for You,
And join me to You
And come between myself and anything other than You—

The Rose Garland

06-09 Klopstock
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
German
1724 – 1803

 

In the shade of spring I found her
then with garlands of roses bound her;
she did not feel it and slumbered on.

I looked at her: my life hung
upon her life with this glance;
I truly felt it, and knew it not.

But speechlessly I whispered to her
and rustled with the rose garlands;
then she woke from slumber.

She looked at me; her life hung
upon my life with this one glance
and around us rose Elysium.

The Magpies

06-08 Glover
Denis Glover
Kiwi
1912 – 1980

 

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Tom’s hand was strong to the plough
and Elizabeth’s lips were red
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Year in year out they worked
while the pines grew overhead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

But all the beautiful crops soon went
to the mortgage man instead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Elizabeth is dead now (it’s long ago)
Old Tom’s gone light in the head
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations
couldn’t give it away
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

The Rhymes Our Hearts Can Read

We present this work in honor of Western Australia Day.

06-07 Murphy
Edwin Greenslade Murphy
Australian
1866 – 1939

We are sated of songs that drone the praise,
Of a world beyond our ken;
We are bored by the ballads of beaten ways
And milk-and-water men;
We are tired of the tales the lovers told
To the cooing amorous dove;
We have banned the minstrelsy of old,
And the lyrics of languid love;
We are done with the dirges cut and dried
In the London square and slum;
But we’re ripe for a rhyme whose metres stride
Through salt-bush scrub and gum.
Sing us a song unsung by men
Of the narrow and cautious creed;
Write with a strong and strenuous pen
The rhymes our hearts can read.

While we stand where the ways of men have end,
And the untrod tracks commence,
We weary of songs the poets penned
In pastoral indolence;
The sleepy sonnet that lovers make
Where weeping willows arch,
Can not the passionate soul awake,
Of men who outward march.
Our harps are hung in the towering trees
And the mulga low and grey;
Our ballads are sung by every breeze
That flogs the sea to spray.
We want no lay of a moonlit strand,
No idyll of daisied mead,
For the rhymes that our hearts can understand
Are the rhymes our hearts can read.

We need no monody planned and built,
In the shade of an abbey grey,
But the pulse and throb of a lusty lilt
That quickens the human clay.
Tell us of men whose axes bite
The hearts of the mountain gum;
Sing of the pioneers who fight
To waken the desert dumb.
We want to hark to the heart within,
Of the men who feel and know;
For only the men who’ve sampled sin
Can write of its joy and woe.
Give us a ballad that swings along
With the bound of a striving steed;
Give us — whether it’s right or wrong —
The rhymes our hearts can read.

We want to travel from page to page
Through dusty drive and stope,
To catch the hiss of the rushing cage,
The roll of the winding rope.
Give us the rip-saw’s grind and scream
As it sunders the giant log;
The groan and the creek of the bullock team
As it flounders across the bog;
The swish and the crack of the stockmen’s whips
In the roar of the night stampede.
Give us the music that bites and grips —
The rhymes our hearts can read!

Sing of the days of hasty camps,
When Bayley blazed the track.
Write of the shining starry lamps
That beacon the wild out-back.
Sing to the soul of the hardest case
That bears his swag of sin;
Of nights of wine and the bold embrace
When revelry roped him in;
Tell of the times we’ve fought for fun,
A wearisome hour to wile,
And whether we lost or drew or won
Swung out with a cheery smile.
Write of the men for whom God waits —
Men of a Christ-like creed;
Sing of the mates who die for mates,
In the rhymes our hearts can read!

Unexpectations

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.

06-06 Dimoula
Kiki Dimoula
Greek
1931 – 2020

 

Lord what’s still not in store for us.

I’m sitting here and sitting.
It’s raining without raining
just as when a shadow
returns to us a body.

I’m sitting here and sitting.
Me here, my heart opposite
and still further away
my weary relationship with it.
So we might seem many
whenever emptiness counts us.

Empty room blowing.
I hold tight to the way
I have of being swept off.

I’ve no news of you.
Your photo stationary.
You stare as if coming
you smile as if not.
Dried flowers at one side
incessantly repeating for you
their unadulterated name semprevives
semprevives—eternal, eternal
in case you forget what you’re not.

I’m asked by time
how I want it to pass
exactly how I pronounce myself
as edging or ageing.
Foolishness.
No end is ever articulate.

I’ve no news of you.
Your photo stationary.
Just as it rains without raining.

Just as a shadow returns to me a body.
And just as we’ll meet one day
up there.
In some lush sparseness
with shady unexpectations
and evergreen rotations.
As interpreter of the intense
silence that we’ll feel
—developed form of the intense
intoxication caused by a meeting
down here—will come a void.

And we’ll be enraptured then
by a passionate unrecognition
—developed form of the embrace
employed by a meeting down here.
Yes we’ll meet. Breathing fine, concealed
form attraction. In a downpour
of heavy lack of gravity. Perhaps on one
of infinity’s trips to ad infinitum;
at the ceremony for loss awards to the known
for its great contribution to the unknown;
guests at destination’s starlight,
at cessation’s galas on behalf of dissolving
causes and the skies’ farewell
importances once great.
Expect that this company of distances
will be somewhat downcast, cheerless
even if non-existence finds cheer from nothing.
Perhaps because the soul of the party will be absent.
The flesh.

I call to the ash
to disarm me.
I call upon the ash
by its code name: Everything.

You’ll meet regularly I imagine
you and the death of that dream.
The last-born dream.
Of all I had the best-behaved.
Clear-headed, gentle, understanding.
Not of course so dreamy
but neither worthless or mean,
no toady to all and sundry.
A very thrifty dream,
in intensity and errors.
Of the dreams I raised
my most loving: so I’d not
grow old alone.

You’ll meet regularly I imagine
you and its death.
Give it my regards, tell it to come
too without fail when we meet
there, at the loss awards ceremony.

Love me as long as you don’t live.
Yes yes the impossible’s enough for me.
Once I was loved by that.
Love me as long as you don’t live.
For I’ve no news of you.
And heaven forbid that the absurd
should show no signs of life.

The Man Whose Ola Cart Fell Over

06-05 Kaldas
Pauline Kaldas
Egyptian
b. 1958

 

A man pulls his cart piled with clay olas
maneuvers the knotted traffic
olas for sale to contain cool water
quench the sand starched mouth

Futile to unlock this tongue
I’m lost here
mazed into a pattern of textures and rhythms
snatched by the clutches of the tied bird of prey in the zoo
out of tune with the peacock caged in the pet store
stitched into the canvas of human sweat
to divulge the secret of this magnet that draws us near
a reckless gesture stumbles into the ola cart
scatters clay shards
and continue

Listen to My Words

06-04 Buthaina
Buthaina bint al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad
Arab Andalusian
1070 – ?

 

Listen to my words, echoes of noble breeding.
You cannot deny I was snatched as a spoil of war,
I, the daughter of a Banu Abbad king, a great king
whose days were soured by time and chased away.
When Allah willed to break us hypocrisy fed us
grief and ripped us apart.
I escaped but was ambushed and sold as a slave
to a man who saved my innocence
so I could marry his kind and honourable son.
And now, father, would you tell me
if he should be my spouse,
and I hope royal Rumaika would bless our happiness.

Wild Orphan

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 95th birthday.

06-03 Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
American
1926 – 1997

 

Blandly mother
takes him strolling
by railroad and by river
-he’s the son of the absconded
hot rod angel-
and he imagines cars
and rides them in his dreams,

so lonely growing up among
the imaginary automobiles
and dead souls of Tarrytown

to create
out of his own imagination
the beauty of his wild
forebears-a mythology
he cannot inherit.

Will he later hallucinate
his gods? Waking
among mysteries with
an insane gleam
of recollection?

The recognition-
something so rare
in his soul,
met only in dreams
-nostalgias
of another life.

A question of the soul.
And the injured
losing their injury
in their innocence
-a cock, a cross,
an excellence of love.

And the father grieves
in flophouse
complexities of memory
a thousand miles
away, unknowing
of the unexpected
youthful stranger
bumming toward his door.