Moonlight

Vita Sackville-West
English
1892 – 1962

 

What time the meanest brick and stone
Take on a beauty not their own,
And past the flaw of builded wood
Shines the intention whole and good,
And all the little homes of man
Rise to a dimmer, nobler span;
When colour’s absence gives escape
To the deeper spirit of the shape,

— Then earth’s great architecture swells
Among her mountains and her fells
Under the moon to amplitude
Massive and primitive and rude:

— Then do the clouds like silver flags
Stream out above the tattered crags,
And black and silver all the coast
Marshalls its hunched and rocky host,
And headlands striding sombrely
Buttress the land against the sea,
— The darkened land, the brightening wave —
And moonlight slants through Merlin’s cave.

Turn

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.

Vijayalakshmi
Indian
b. 1960

 

The insulted corpse spoke to me at night:

Can’t you see what’s planted in my hands?
Definitely, this gun isn’t mine.
I do not recognize bullets,
except the one that pierced me.
Those diary entries aren’t mine,
the hitlists were appended later.
Though murdered, I’m not a dimwit.
If so,
even I want to see the hellish diary
that added our names into the hit list,
a diary that vanished
because it was never written.

After death,
I came to know from the rotten,
decaying, withered,
powdered and wounded corpses
about the guns that were planted
between their dead fingers,
about the insult thrust upon them
by exhibiting their gun wielding pictures,
about romantic diary notes
that were written in their names.
Corpses don’t lie.
We are the truth, the sole truth.
But what can corpses do?

We can.
Even if we are erased from days
and appended to newspapers,
bulletin boards and
lazy after-dinner miniscreens,
even if our lifeless recline
is repeatedly insulted,
our blood silently appears
in honest mirrors at night.
Pressing the lips
against every ear that is awake,
It will chant this till sunrise:
Do not sleep.
What dawns is your turn.

Home

We present this work in honor of Eid-al-Adha.

Leila Kasra
Persian
1939 – 1989

 

Still, on the boughs of the trees, there are only crows
Ah, The flowers are withered
There is a madman in the garden
My heart is like a goblet of fire
My body is like a stove (burns so bad)
But there is not even a light in the whole world
There is not even a light, there is not even a light

I came from the other side of the world to this place
Don’t tell me the world is beautiful, I don’t see that
Still, there is sorrow in my heart, it is a strong torment
Don’t tell me not to cry
Don’t tell me life is short

Which nocturnal mourn? Which nightly summon?
Which spell and magic? Which romantic prayer?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved
Would lead me to my beloved, would lead me to my beloved

Which way? Which road?
Which tear? Which moan?
Which cloud and which zenith?
Which tide and which moon?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved

Still, caravan of love doesn’t reach its destination
We are drowned and our voice doesn’t reach the shore
Doesn’t reach the shore

Still, there are tears in my eyes
My stare is at the road (waiting for the beloved one)
There is no sun, no moon
How dark is the world! How dark is the world!

Which way? Which road?
Which tear? Which moan?
Which cloud and which zenith?
Which tide and which moon?
From this side of the world to that side of the world
Would lead me to my home, would lead me to my beloved

To Her Father With Some Verses

We present this work in honor of Parents’ Day.

Anne Bradstreet
English
1612 – 1672

 

Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,
If worth in me or ought I do appear,
Who can of right better demand the same
Than may your worthy self from whom it came?
The principal might yield a greater sum,
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,
My bond remains in force unto this day;
Yet for part payment take this simple mite,
Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.
Such is my debt I may not say forgive,
But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;
Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,
Yet paying is not paid until I die.

Spring 1946

We present this work in honor of the 70th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Elisabeth Langgässer
German
1899 – 1950

 

(for Cordelia)

So you return
My sweet Anemone –
All brilliant stamen, calyx, crown –
Making it worth the devastation,
Like Nausicaa?

Windblown and bowing –
Wave and spray and light –
What whirling joy at last
Has lifted up this weight
From shoulders bent with dust?

Now I arise
Out of the toad’s domain –
Pluto’s reddish glare still under my eyelids –
And the hideous pipe of the guide to the dead
Still in my ears.

I have seen the iron gleam
In the Gorgon’s eye.
I have heard the hiss, the whisper,
The rumor that she would kill me:
It was a lie.

Anemone, my daughter,
Let me kiss your face: it is
Unmirrored by the waters
Of Lethe or the Styx.
And innocent of no or not.

And see, you are alive
And here – there’s no deception –
And quiet in the way you touch my heart
Yet do not rake its fires –
My child, my Nausicaa!

The Victoria Falls

Muriel Spark
Scots
1918 – 2006

 

So hushed, so hot, the broad Zambesi lies
Above the Falls, and on her weedy isles
Swing antic monkeys swarm malignant flies,
And seeming-lazy lurk long crocodiles.

But somewhere down the river does the hush
Become a sibilance that hints a sigh,
A murmur, mounting as the currents rush
Faster, and while the murmur is a cry

The cry becomes a shout, the shout a thunder
Until the whole Zambesi waters pour
Into the earth’s side, agitating under
Infinite spray mists, pounding the world’s floor.

Wrapped in this liquid turmoil who can say
Which is the mighty echo, which the spray?

from Rādhikā-sāntvanam

Muddupalani
Indian
c. 1739 – 1790

 

If I ask her not to kiss me,
stroking on my cheeks
she presses my lips hard against hers.

If I ask her not to touch me,
stabbing me with her firm breasts
she hugs me.

If I ask her not to get too close
for it is not decorous,
she swears at me loudly.

If I tell her of my vow not
to have a woman in my bed,
she hops on
and begins the game of love.

Appreciative,
she lets me drink from her lips,
fondles me, talks on,
making love again and again.

How could I stay away
from her company?

Lassitude

In honor of Bastille Day, we present this work by one of France’s most revolutionary 19th century poets.

Louise Colet
French
1810 – 1876

 

It is from these long days of indescribable sickness
Where we would like to sleep the heavy sleep of the dead;
From these hours of anguish where existence weighs
On the soul and on the body.

So we search in vain for a gentle thought,
A joyful image, a rich memory;
The soul fights for an instant, and finally falls again, drooping
Under its deep troubles.

So all that enchants and all that we enjoy
Has for our open eyes only deceptive brightness;
And the dreamed happiness, if it comes, cannot exactly
Overpower our fatigue.

Love Arm’d

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 380th birthday.

Aphra Behn
English
1740 – 1689

 

Love in Fantastique Triumph satt,
Whilst bleeding Hearts around him flow’d,
For whom Fresh pains he did create,
And strange Tryanic power he show’d;
From thy Bright Eyes he took his fire,
Which round about, in sport he hurl’d;
But ‘twas from mine he took desire,
Enough to undo the Amorous World.
From me he took his sighs and tears,
From thee his Pride and Crueltie;
From me his Languishments and Feares,
And every Killing Dart from thee;
Thus thou and I, the God have arm’d,
And sett him up a Deity;
But my poor Heart alone is harm’d,
Whilst thine the Victor is, and free.

The Pines

In honor of the Argentine holiday, Independence Day, we present this work by one of Argentina’s most independent voices.

Silvina Ocampo
Argentine
1903 – 1993

 

You didn’t listen to the beating of a tree’s heart,
couched against the trunk gazing upwards,
you didn’t see the leaves moving
with the throb of a heart,
you didn’t feel the shudder
of the swaying branches above your body,
you didn’t listen to the heart of the pines
when the wind moves them and those leaves
that are like green fragrant pins
fall, and when the clouds pass,
you didn’t see that the world was turning,
the entire world, and you didn’t feel
that the sky was drawing near,
was entering inside the pines,
and that you were disappearing, penetrating with it
inside the pines, becoming in that sky another tree.