Memory

Moero
Greek
c. 300 B.C.

 

Now mighty Zeus was raised in Crete, and not one
of the blessed gods knew about him. In every limb he grew strong,
while doves looked after him in a holy cave
bringing ambrosia from Ocean’s streams,
a mighty eagle, ever drawing nectar from a rock,
in its beak carried a drink for wise Zeus.
After defeating his father Cronus, wide-seeing Zeus
made the eagle immortal and settled it in heaven.
Just so did he bestow honour on the trembling doves
who are the messengers of summer and winter.

As the Heart Hopes

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Canadian
1874 – 1942

 

It is a year dear one, since you afar
Went out beyond my yearning mortal sight¬
A wondrous year! perchance in many a star
You have sojourned, or basked within the light
Of mightier suns; it may be you have trod
The glittering pathways of the Pleiades,
And through the Milky Way’s white mysteries
Have walked at will, fire-shod.

You may have gazed in the immortal eyes
Of prophets and of martyrs; talked with seers
Learned in all the lore of Paradise,
The infinite wisdom of eternal years;
To you the Sons of Morning may have sung,
The impassioned strophes of their matin hymn,
For you the choirs of the seraphim
Their harpings wild out-flung.

But still I think at eve you come to me
For old, delightsome speech of eye and lip,
Deeming our mutual converse thus to be
Fairer than archangelic comradeship;
Dearer our close communings fondly given
Than all the rainbow dreams a spirit knows,
Sweeter my gathered violets than the rose
Upon the hills of heaven.

Can any exquisite, unearthly morn,
Silverly breaking o’er a starry plain,
Give to your soul the poignant pleasure born
Of virgin moon and sunset’s lustrous stain
When we together watch them ? Oh, apart
A hundred universes you may roam,
But still I know¬I know¬your only home
Is here within my heart!

Still Falls the Rain

Dame Edith Sitwell
English
1887 – 1964

 

Still falls the Rain—
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter’s Field, and the sound of the impious feet

On the Tomb:
Still falls the Rain

In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain
Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

Still falls the Rain
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us—
On Dives and on Lazarus:
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

Still falls the Rain—
Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man’s wounded Side:
He bears in His Heart all wounds,—those of the light that died,
The last faint spark
In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,
The wounds of the baited bear—
The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat
On his helpless flesh… the tears of the hunted hare.

Still falls the Rain—
Then— O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me doune—
See, see where Christ’s blood streames in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world,—dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar’s laurel crown.

Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain—
“Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee.”

Stranger

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

Tahereh Saffarzadeh
Persian
1936 – 2008

 

I am a pantheon of feelings,
and I will not hold you–Snowdrift of lies–
I fear you will turn to ice the memories I cherish,
remember of humanity.
I am that lonely one who understands,
the agony of loneliness,
the silence of the tolerant,
the wrath of the inflamed.
But I never understand you,
—all insouciance and silly cheer.

Will the Years Roll By While You Mark Time?

Nontsizi Mgqwetho
South African
c. 1880? – c. 1930?

 

Where’s human kindness? The sense of a nation?
The land of warriors with tossing crane plumes?
Where is royalty? There’s nothing of value:
all that we once had is gone!!

Will all the years roll by?
Will you mark time through this year too?
Your family’s left you; your stock have left you.
They’re now the stock of the Mutton Gluttons.

Mqoma said so, and they called him mad
for spurning the madness of surrender.
In the light of day you sold your kingdom
and went looking for a wife.

Christians, where are your bibles today?
I’d better stop: I get too angry.
Truly, these people from overseas
used them to rob us of house and home.

What they gave us to drink was bitter.
Africa, how have you sinned?
Drought afflicts you, your rivers dry up.
What do they say in the far northeast?

Maqoma said so, and they called him mad
for spurning the madness of surrender.
Now there’s no one we can trust:
we shunned even God our only hope.

Will you mark time through this year too?
For long I’ve said so, now this year says:
“Though lacking faith, please come home,
those glittering baubles aren’t for you.”

And what about these marriages
Made and broken in a day?
We’ve become neither fish nor fowl,
The walking dead unfamiliar to God.

Will all the years roll by?
This year says: “Gird yourself
to seek the source of your condition,
why you’re so and why you starve.”

Go back to where you came from
as Ntsikana said in dying.
Don’t use the truth to make a deal:
this cash led us astray.

Seek the seers to tell you straight
what the ancient of days divines
so you speak fearlessly with that knowledge:
a nation that fears, is a nation of liars.

There’s the pass in a nation of liars,
there’s the raid in a nation of liars,
and scripture foresses more,
by my forefathers and father who sired me.

You’re coming home!!

Narcissus

Stella Díaz Varín
Chilean
1926 – 2006

 

I’m absent from laughter
and everything happy men possess.
While blood flees like a deer
through every landscape
for no apparent reason,
as if believing that the most remote images
silence our thought.
Still upright, despite
those dark-rooted suns,
I approach your winged figure,
your little vertigos,
and teach you to watch
like only fish can,
in orbits unfamiliar to your hands.
I emerge -little god-
from the most secluded womb
to join you with a perfectly measured distance.

We share a certain gaze,
and an open door
to encumber our conversations;
leaning on the frame, gathered there
like the abandoned gather themselves,
nursing an ancient music
even greater than life and death.
And you revolt, known angel, anticipating the fall.

Truth prefers this behavior.
That’s how you come and go
and wrap yourself in the luminescence of old stars
so that I can watch your skeleton,
knowing full well that there’s nothing more beautiful
than the becoming of sea into bones.

In the end one gets used to
no one saying goodbye,
and to perceiving sound
in the palm of a hand,
like sea horses
sense love
as they caress each other’s fishbone spines.

Beautified in a drop of water
seen through thirst,
you come to know my first workdays.
The steep channels that led God
to unite snow, tree heart,
bile, dark resin,
indecision, pendulum, eternity,
and night through eyes.

There Used to Be—

Rose Fyleman
English
1877 – 1957

 

There used to be fairies in Germany—
I know, for I’ve seen them there
In a great cool wood where the tall trees stood
With their heads high up in the air;
They scrambled about in the forest
And nobody seemed to mind;
They were dear little things (tho’ they didn’t have wings)
And they smiled and their eyes were kind.

What, and oh what were they doing
To let things like this?
How could it be? And didn’t they see
That folk were going amiss?
Were they too busy playing,
Or can they perhaps have slept,
That never they heard an ominous word
That stealthily crept and crept?

There used to be fairies in Germany—
The children will look for them still;
They will search all about till the sunlight slips out
And the trees stand frowning and chill.
“The flowers,” they will say, “have all vanished,
And where can the fairies be fled
That played in the fern?”—The flowers will return,
But I fear that the fairies are dead.