Recreation

We present this work in honor of the 30th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Audre Lorde
American
1934 – 1992

 

Coming together
it is easier to work
after our bodies
meet
paper and pen
neither care nor profit
whether we write or not
but as your body moves
under my hands
charged and waiting
we cut the leash
you create me against your thighs
hilly with images
moving through our word countries
my body
writes into your flesh
the poem
you make of me.

Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat
I love you flesh into blossom
I made you
and take you made
into me.

The Celestial Market Street

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 130th birthday.

Guo Moruo
Chinese
1892 – 1978

 

The street lights are on in a distance
As if numerous stars show.
The bright stars loom in the above
As if numerous street lights glow.
I believe there must be a beautiful market street
In that aerial heaven with cloud clear.
The goods displayed on that street
Must be rarities which we don’t have here.
You see, that shallow Milky Way
Must be not very wide.
The cowherd and weaving lady separated by it
Must be able to visit each other on a ride.
I believe at this moment along that street
Sauntering there must be they.
If you doubt, please look at that shooting star,
Which may be the lantern they are taking on their way.

Translation by Yang Xu

Manuscript in a Bottle

Pablo Antonio Cuadra
Nicaraguan
1912 – 2002

 

I had seen coconut trees and tamarinds
and mangos
the white sails drying in the sun
the smoke of breakfast across the sky
at dawn
and fish jumping in the net
and a girl in red
who would go down to the shore and come up with a jug
and pass behind a grove
and appear and disappear
and for a long time
I could not sail without that image
of the girl in red
and the coconut trees and tamarinds and mangos
that seemed to live only
because she lived
and the white sails were white only
when she lay down
in her red dress and the smoke was blue
and the fish and the reflection of the fish
were happy
and for a long time I wanted to write a poem
about that girl in red
and couldn’t find the way to describe
the strange things that fascinated me
and when I told my friends they laughed
but when I sailed away and returned
I always passed the island of the girl in red
until one day I entered the bay of her island
and cast anchor and leaped to land
and now I write these lines and throw them into the waves in a bottle
because this is my story
because I am gazing at coconut trees and tamarinds
and mangos
the white sails drying in the sun
and the smoke of breakfast across the sky
and time passes
and we wait and wait
and we grunt
and she does not come with ears of corn
the girl in red.

Translation by Grace Schulman and Ann McCarthy de Zavala

Pakistan

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 80th birthday.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Indian
1942 – 2011

 

Oh Pakistan, celestial land!
Give us your heart!
And take our heart in return!
Once we shared the same sky!
Sky with the same sun!
We shared the same pain like twins on the battlefield
to remove the dust.

Now our flesh is ripped apart
By that meandering barbed-wire fence!
Oh they have drawn that
dividing line on a flimsy paper!
That line of agony and tears
Can anyone draw that line
In our raw flesh, inside our heart?

Friends! Be happy where you
are… now!
Memory never fades, poets say
distance only purifies it…
We sat under the same tree,
Enjoyed the fragrance of the
same flower
Till that time
like a dagger
cut those rivers into
several pieces! Destroyed the
mountains and flower gardens where
we had played!

And those banks
where we had counted those
fig-coloured waves!
Like the honey laden
lips of the damsels!
We wore the same clothes
woven by our mothers!
We shivered in winter and in summer our
sweat slid down our backs

We enjoyed the same wine
from the poems of Ghalib
Momin and Zauk
We cried together in pain!
Under the blood stained sky.

Oh Pakistan! Celestial land
Give us your heart
And take our heart in return!
No we need not speak now
Only silence speaks in a clear voice.
Oh Pakistan! Silence can bring
the fragrance of a mother’s soul
Silence can reveal.
The heavenly beauty of Sutlej,
Chenab, and the Red River
Of the East!
Silence can be loud like
a million voices
Oh Pakistan! Celestial land!
Our eyes misted by the
Smoke of blossoming gun powder!
Our soul wounded by the unknown fires!
May these eyes now witness the
new Sunrise
On the banks of Sutlej,
Chenab, and in the Red
River of the East!
Oh Pakistan, celestial land!
Give us your heart!
And take our heart in return

Vanity of Vanities

We present this work in honor of the 160th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Julio Arboleda Pombo
Colombian
1817 – 1862

 

Unhappy who seeks in appearance
bliss and ephemeral praise,
and changes his mind with the change
of the versatile public conscience!

The present is your only providence;
yields to the blowing of the wind that throws him
to good without faith and evil without hope;
that in erring with the world is his science.

And happy the independent male
who, free from worldly bondage,
aspires, between pain and sorrow,

to the eternal truth, not to the present one,
knowing that the world and its truths
they are only vanity of vanities!

Five Days and Nights

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Vera Inber
Russian
1890 – 1972

 

(on the death of Lenin)

Before they closed him in the tomb
lost to the light of day,
five days and nights stretcht in the room
of pillars still he lay.

The people filed in an endless train
with flags borne low at rest
to see his sallowing profile again
and the medal red on his chest.

And over the earth that he’d forsaken
so fierce a frost held sway
it seemed that he had surely taken
part of our warmth away.

Five nights in Moscow no one slept
because to sleep he had gone.
Close watch the sentinel moon kept,
solemn and wan.

Translation by Jack Lindsay

The Value of a Man

We present this work in honor of the 530th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Jami
Persian
1414 – 1492

 

The price of a man consists not in silver and gold;
The value of a man is his power and virtue.
Many a slave has by acquiring virtue
Attained much greater power than a gentleman
And many a gentleman has for want of virtue,
Become inferior to his own slave.