The Haste of Love

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 425th birthday.

Martin Opitz
German
1597 – 1639

 

Ah, sweetheart, let us hurry
We still have time.
Delaying thus, we bury
Our mutual prime.

Beauty’s bright gift shall perish
As leaves grow sere;
All that we have and cherish
Shall disappear.

The cheek of roses fadeth
Gray grows the head;
And fire the eyes evadeth
And passion’s dead.

The mouth, love’s honeyed winner
Is formless, cold;
The hand, like snow, gets thinner
And thou art old!

So let us taste the pleasure
That youth endears,
Ere we are called to measure
The flying years.

Give, as thou lov’st and livest
Thy love to me,
Even though, in what thou givest
My loss should be!

Translation by Bayard Taylor

To the Admirable Transubstantiation of the Roses Into the Marvelous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe… the Roses Vanquish the Phoenix

We present this work in honor of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Luis de Sandoval y Zapata
Mexican
d. 1671

 

The Luminary of the Birds expires,
of the wind that winged eternity,
and midst the vapors of the monument
burns a sweet-smelling victim of the pyre.

And now in mighty metamorphosis
behold a shroud, with every flower more bright;
in the Cerecloth, reasonable essence,
the vegetable amber dwells and breathes.

The colours of Our Lady they portray;
and from these shades the day in envy flies
when the sun upon them shines his light.

You die more fortunate than the Phoenix, flowers;
for he, feathered to rise, in ashes dies;
but you, Our Blessed Lady to become.

Translation by Samuel Beckett

Mount of Olives

Henry Vaughan
Welsh
1621 – 1695

 

Sweet, sacred hill! on whose fair brow
My Saviour sate, shall I allow
Language to love,
And idolize some shade, or grove,
Neglecting thee? such ill-plac’d wit,
Conceit, or call it what you please,
Is the brain’s fit,
And mere disease.

Cotswold and Cooper’s both have met
With learnèd swains, and echo yet
Their pipes and wit;
But thou sleep’st in a deep neglect,
Untouch’d by any; and what need
The sheep bleat thee a silly lay,
That heard’st both reed
And sheepward play?

Yet if poets mind thee well,
They shall find thou art their hill,
And fountain too.
Their Lord with thee had most to do;
He wept once, walk’d whole nights on thee:
And from thence—His suff’rings ended—
Unto glory
Was attended.

Being there, this spacious ball
Is but His narrow footstool all;
And what we think
Unsearchable, now with one wink
He doth comprise; but in this air
When He did stay to bear our ill
And sin, this hill
Was then His Chair.

Where the Creature Is

We present this work in honor of Vikram Samvat New Year.

Akha Bhagat
Indian
c. 1615 – c. 1674

 

Where the creature is
there is the Creator,
but you wander elsewhere,
search in faraway places.

The first false step, says Akha,
was that you forgot
to look within.

So you forgot.
Go then, study
with a saint. What’s gained
by shows of piety:
one day all whiskers and beard,
the next day tonsured, sheared?

I Did Not Come on This Earth as a Seed

We present this work in honor of Diwali.

Rupa Bhawani
Indian
c. 1621 – c. 1721

 

I did not come on this earth as a seed,
To fall in the circle of births,
I am not the elements
Earth, water, fire, air and ether
I am beyond the primordial universal self and the individual self,
I am the Supreme Consciousness.

Translation by Jankinath Kaul Kamal

Plucking Mulberries

We present this work in honor of the 375th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Xia Wanchun
Chinese
1631 – 1647

 

Willow catkins are swept up by wind and rain
Down on the ground, they roll like blobs of cotton
Down on the ground, they roll like blobs of cotton,
Revealing the spring breeze’s weakness at the pavilion.
Privately I relate my painful memory of a lost country
To the Yangtze River that flows to the east
Its whole length being filled with my grief.

Translation by Yuan Singpei

A Young Girl’s Complaint About Her Sweetheart

Elen Gwdman
Welsh
c. 1616

 

Every young woman in the world,
In pure mind and heart;
Be wary, watch that you be wicked
To a lad, O be faithful.

I know from my own wound
And I confess to you:
The spear of sadness is in my breast
Because of loving faithfully.

A fine, noble graceful man,
In the lusty age of youth,
As he passed by the place where I lived,
I often enjoyed his company.

His virtues and his speech in my presence
His appearing sudden like the snow
And his sobriety were causes
To make me think he liked me.

Cupid knew in a short time
That I liked his ways,
And he struck a heavy blow,
Yes, an arrow of lead to my heart.

Then we both became sick
But neither confessed his thoughts;
Each knew only his own wound
Even though both were in pain.

Being of frail confidence, he did not
Presume to ask
Mercy at my hand,
But suffered there like a little lamb.

And I too was shy or dumb,
Not daring to tell him
Nor giving any sign anywhere
Of my wound, that he might suspect.

I imagined that he was just
Feigning a fancy
And he thought it was not fit
To try to salve my bruise.

Thus we were not counting the stars
And lacking a go-between;
When fortune brought, Christ knows,
To me sad news.

I heard that his friends had
Bound him tightly to another
He had to suffer swiftly
Either the yoke or the axe.

Meeting each other after this
And starting to enquire in amazement;
Blame fell on Destiny
That our friends knew not our troubles.

Since he is saying goodbye,
I will further confess:
From now on, for his sake,
I will live a madi all my life.

Friends and kinfolk, foolish and wise,
I say farewell to you;
I’ll go to Rome, with God’s strength,
To live all my life in a nunnery.

Singing and dancing, processions, gossip
I renounce your company;
Gravity, fasting, and prayer,
For these I have a welcome.

A girl sang this, who has set her heart
On giving up the world;
And in praise to pure Jesus
I will not seek to sing anything but this.

By Night When Others Soundly Slept

We present this work in honor of the 350th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Anne Bradstreet
English
1612 – 1672

 

1

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

2

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

3

My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

4

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.

On the Death of the Late Queen

George Farquhar
Irish
1677 – 1707

 

Whilst heaven with envy on the earth looked down,
Saw us unworthy of the royal pair,
And justly claimed Maria as its own,
Yet kindly left the glorious William here:
The heaven and earth alike do in the blessing share.
He makes the earth, she heaven our great allies,
And though we mourn, she for our comfort dies,
Nor need we fear the rash presumptuous foe,
Whilst she’s our saint above, and he our king below.