Interiors

In honor of the Argentine holiday, National Flag Day, we present this work by one of the country’s most representative poets.

06-20 Bignozzi
Juana Bignozzi
Argentine
1937 – 2015

 

lost the first sense of solidarity
lost horizontal solidarity
neighbor friend corner grocer
in private no one recounts his life story these days
where now are those Renaissance kitchens
the houses of the Carpathians
there will be no museum for our interiors
like a fundamentalist veil some women have salvaged
a universe conquered by my grandmothers
children flora men in permanent distraction or
literary fantasies
while grand women
water patio plants

Because of This Modest Style

We present this work in honor of the 100th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-19-Velarde
Ramón López Velarde
Mexican
1888 – 1921

 

It’s how she spreads, without a sound, her scent
of orange blossom on the dark of me,
it is the way she shrouds in mourning black
her mother-of-pearl and ivory, the way
she wears the lace ruff at her throat, and how
she turns her face, quite voiceless, self-possessed,
because she takes the language straight to heart,
is thrifty with the words she speaks.
                                                              It’s how
she is so reticent yet welcoming
when she comes out to face my panegyrics,
the way she says my name
mocking and mimicking, makes gentle fun,
yet she’s aware that my unspoken drama
is really of the heart, though a little silly;
it’s how, when night is deep and at its darkest,
we linger after dinner, vaguely talking
and her laughing smile grows fainter and then falls
gently on the tablecloth; it’s the teasing way
she won’t give me her arm and then allows
deep feeling to come with us when we walk out,
promenading on the hot colonial boulevard. . .

Because of this, your sighing, modest style
of love, I worship you, my faithful star
who like to cloud yourself about in mourning,
generous, hidden blossom; kindly
mellowness who have presided over
my thirty years with the self-denying singleness
a vase has, whose half-blown roses wreathe with scent
the headboard of a convalescent man;
cautious nurse, shy
serving maid, dear friend who trembles
with the trembling of a child when you revise
the reading that we share; apprehensive, always timid
guest at the feast I give; my ally,
humble dove that coos when it is morning
in a minor key, a key that’s wholly yours.

May you be blessed, modest, magnificent;
you have possessed the highest summit of my heart,
you who are at once the artist
of lowly and most lofty things, who bear in your hands
my life as if it was your work of art!

O star and orange blossom, may you dwindle
gently rocked in an unwedded peace,
and may you fade out like a morning star
which the lightening greenness of a meadow darkens
or like a flower that finds transfiguration
on the blue west, as it might on a simple bed.

The Water

06-17 Arteche
Miguel Arteche
Chilean
1926 – 2012

 

I woke up at midnight
the whole house set sail.
In the early morning,
there was rain with rain.
The house was in silence,
the mountains restrained,
that night, one could hear
but the falling rain.
I saw me that night
searching vents in vain;
at home, and the world,
no brothers, mum, friends.
The space was dark, cold,
and cold the ship stayed
with me. Who moved all
lonely candle flames?
No one told me, go,
No one told me, stay,
inside, within me,
Home, I left away.
She saw who I was,
she seemed far someday.
I couldn’t lean back
on the pillow’s surface.
That midnight I searched
while the house sailed straight.
Above the world hearing
but the fall of rain.

Student Protest

We present this work in honor of the South African holiday, Youth Day.

06-16 Thomas
Gladys Thomas
South African
b. 1934

 

They stood there
on the steps of the cathedral
a valiant band of youth
who had no need of standing there
and I safe on the other side

I stood watching
their banners screamed our protest
making our cause their own
their voices clear of fear
and I did not utter a word.

They were lashed
their fair faces stained crimson
man nor maid was spared
as authority showed its might
and I watched and wept my shame

The Song of Quoodle

We present this work in honor of the 85th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-14 Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton
English
1874 – 1936

 

They haven’t got no noses,
The fallen sons of Eve;
Even the smell of roses
Is not what they supposes;
But more than mind discloses
And more than men believe.

They haven’t got no noses,
They cannot even tell
When door and darkness closes
The park a Jew encloses,
Where even the law of Moses
Will let you steal a smell.

The brilliant smell of water,
The brave smell of a stone,
The smell of dew and thunder,
The old bones buried under,
Are things in which they blunder
And err, if left alone.

The wind from winter forests,
The scent of scentless flowers,
The breath of brides’ adorning,
The smell of snare and warning,
The smell of Sunday morning,
God gave to us for ours

And Quoodle here discloses
All things that Quoodle can,
They haven’t got no noses,
And goodness only knowses
The Noselessness of Man.

Molecular Theory

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 120th birthday.

06-13 Beaglehole
J.C. Beaglehole Kiwi 1901 – 1971

 

Noiseless, unnursed, the country rose
Is born, and quietly it goes:
The unheard bright anemone
Blooms for the eye alone to see.

Never a sigh, never a groan
Utters this unmarked casual stone,
There breaks no breath from this dull wood
To hear, I know, nor ever should.

Yet do I know that stone, wood, flower
Travail and sicken every hour—
Deep, deep about the hidden core
A thousand systems meet at war.

A thousand suns are brought to birth
And shattered in the very earth
Beneath my feet; without a sound
Pulses the long-tormented ground.

And yet, I think, could I but hear
Once, suddenly, with quickened ear,
Might I not start, as saw my eye
A petal fall, to catch a cry?

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.”

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!