My Heart is But a Moth on Your Candle-Like Face

Ahli Shirazi
1454 – 1535


My heart is but a moth on your candle like face, for it
bears prints of faithfulness. Issue the edict of union, for it
is besmeared with blood of grief.

Insignia of prosperity and edict of authority will be decora¬
ted in the name of Mir Ali Sher.

O God, I pray thee that enemy’s hand of power, should
always stand turned down as has been in the past.


We present this work in honor of the 565th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Íñigo López de Mendoza y de la Vega
1398 – 1458


From Calatrava as I took my way
At holy Mary’s shrine to kneel and pray,
And sleep upon my eyelids heavy lay,
There where the ground was very rough and wild,
I lost my path and met a peasant child:
From Finojosa, with the herds around her,
There in the fields I found her.

Upon a meadow green with tender grass,
With other rustic cowherds, lad and lass,
So sweet a thing to see I watched her pass:
My eyes could scarce believe her what they found her,
There with the herds around her.

I do not think that roses in the Spring
Are half so lovely in their fashioning:
My heart must needs avow this secret thing,
That had I known her first as then I found her,
From Finojosa, with the herds around her,
I had not strayed so far her face to see
That it might rob me of my liberty.

I questioned her, to know what she might say:
“Has she of Finojosa passed this way?”
She smiled and answered me: “In vain you sue,
Full well my heart discerns the hope in you:
But she of whom you speak, and have not found her.
Her heart is free, no thought of love has bound her,
Here with the herds around her.”

Translation by John Pierrepont Rice


Juan de Mena
1411 – 1456


As I upon my pallet lie,
The greatest grief I know
Is thinking when I said “Good-bye”
To the breast I’m loving so.

In spite of all the woes I feel
Upon that parting thought,
At times my memories reveal
The mighty joys you brought.
So let the world a-whispering go
To tell why here I lie;
Because they know I’ve said “Good-bye”
To the breast I’m loving so.

I languish but I let none hear
How deep my sorrows are,
Although my griefs are quite as near
As your sweet balm is far.
And if it be the end they show
And death is coming nigh,
While living, let me say “Good-bye”
To the breast I’m loving so.

Translation by Thomas Walsh

The Value of a Man

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

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.

Sonetto I

Matteo Maria Boiardo
1441 – 1494


The song of little birds from spray to spray,
The fragrant breeze that wafts among the flowers,
The lights that in transparent liquors play,
Awaking laughter in these eyes of ours,

Are here since nature and the heavens agree
With him who willeth that the whole world fall
Under love’s spell; hence sweetest melody
And fragrance thrill earth, wind, and waters all.

Wherever foot doth tread and eye doth rove
A passionate spirit kindleth, fraught with love,
Which giveth warmth before the summer days;
At his caressing smile and soft, sweet gaze

The flowers don brilliant hues, the grass grows green,
The waves are quieted, the skies serene.

Translation by Lorna de’ Lucchi

Jiviche jivlage majhe Krishnai Kanhai

We present this work in honor of Janmashtami.

15th century


O Krsna
heart of my heart,

O dark one,
with beautiful eyes,
have mercy on me,
my birth is low,
my reputation black as night.

O dark one,
with beautiful eyes, please,
have mercy on me.
The Vedas proclaim you
champion of the low
savior of the downtrodden
like me.
Kanhopatra surrenders
again and again,
O dark one,
have mercy on me.

Translation by Sarah Sellergren

You, Azure Bird

We present this work in honor of the 550th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-04 Nezahualcoyotl
1402 – 1472


You, azure bird, shining parrot, you walk flying. Oh Highest Arbiter, Life Giver: trembling, You extend Yourself here, filling my house, filling my dwelling, here.

With Your piety and grace one can live, oh Author of Life, on earth: trembling, You extend Yourself here, filling my house, filling my dwelling, here.


Translation by John Curl

Illusion and Reality

We present this work in honor of Diwali.

c. 1398 – c. 1518


What is seen is not the Truth
What is cannot be said
Trust comes not without seeing
Nor understanding without words
The wise comprehends with knowledge
To the ignorant it is but a wonder
Some worship the formless God
Some worship His various forms
In what way He is beyond these attributes
Only the Knower knows
That music cannot be written
How can then be the notes
Says Kabir, awareness alone will overcome illusion

He Makes the Eagles and Ocelots Dance With Him

We present this work in honor of the Day of the Dead.

1402 – 1472


He makes the Eagles and Ocelots dance with him!
Come to see the Huexotzinca:

On the dais of the Eagle he shouts out,
Loudly cries the Mexica.

The battlefield is the place: where one toasts the divine liquor in war,
where are stained red the divine eagles,
where the tigers howl,
where all kinds of precious stones rain from ornaments,
where wave headdresses rich with fine plumes,
where princes are smashed to bits.

There is nothing like death in war,
nothing like the flowery death
so precious to Him who gives life:
far off I see it: my heart yearns for it!

And they called it Teotihulcan
because it was the place
where the lords were buried.
Thus they said:

‘When we die,
truly we die not,
because we will live, we will rise,
we will continue living, we will awaken
This will make us happy.’

Thus the dead one was directed,
when he died:

‘Awaken, already the sky is rosy,
already dawn has come,
already sing the flame-coloured guans,
the fire-coloured swallows,
already the butterflies fly.’

Thus the old ones said
that who has died has become a god,
they said: ‘He has been made a god there,
meaning ‘He has died.’

Even jade is shattered,
Even gold is crushed,
Even quetzal plume are torn . . .
One does not live forever on this earth:
We endure only for an instant!

Will flowers be carried to the Kingdom of Death:
Is it true that we are going, we are going?
Where are we going, ay, where are we going?
Will we be dead there or will we live yet?
Does one exist again?

Perhaps we will live a second time?
Thy heart knows:
Just once do we live!.
Like a quetzal plume, a fragrant flower,
friendship sparkles:
like heron plumes, it weaves itself into finery.

Our song is a bird calling out like a jingle:
how beautiful you make it sound!
Here, among flowers that enclose us,
among flowery boughs you are singing.

the earth is a grave and nothing escapes it, nothing is so perfect
that it does not descend to its tomb. Rivers, rivulets, fountains and
waters flow, but never return to their joyful beginnings; anxiously
they hasten on the vast realms of the rain god. As they widen their
banks, they also fashion the sad urn of their burial.

Filled are the bowels of the earth with pestilential dust once flesh and bone,
once animate bodies of man who sat upon thrones, decided cases, presided in
council, commanded armies, conquered provinces, possessed treasure, destroyed
temples, exulted in their pride, majesty, fortune, praise and power. Vanished
are these glories, just as the fearful smoke vanishes that belches forth from
the infernal fires of Popocatepetl. Nothing recalls them but the written page.