Living Life as a Poet

We present this work in honor of the 10th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-21 Kroetsch
Robert Kroetsch
Canadian
1927 – 2011

 

I hope I can resist. It’s a stupid idea.
What I was thinking was,
I could buy an estate in the Florida Keys,

mix with the Hemingway look-alikes.
I’d have to grow my beard longer.
Too bad I’m a little short of cash.

I suppose I could rent a house
somewhere on the Mexican coast.
They say the prices are right,

if you don’t mind the drug wars.
I can say please in Spanish, Por favor.
Too bad my stomach can’t take jalapenos.

I suppose I could borrow a tent
from one of my camping friends.
A summer on Lake Athabasca.

Not too close to the tar sands.
Commune with nature. Poach a moose.
Too bad I’m afraid of guns.

Well, finally, I suppose I could just stay put
where I am, drink coffee, rewrite this poem.
What a stupid idea. I hope I can resist.

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.

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.”

Ilka Blade o’ Grass Keps Its Ain Drap o’ Dew

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 215th birthday.

06-11 Ballantine
James Ballantine
Scots
1806 – 1877

 

Confide ye aye in Providence, for Providence is kind,
And bear ye a’ life’s changes, wi’ a calm and tranquil mind,
Though pressed and hemmed on every side, ha’e faith and ye ‘ll win through,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Gin reft frae friends or crest in love, as whiles nae doubt ye’ve been,
Grief lies deep hidden in your heart or tears flow frae your een,
Believe it for the best, and trow there’s good in store for you,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.
In lang, lang days o’ simmer, when the clear and cloudless sky
Refuses ae wee drap o’ rain to nature parched and dry,
The genial night, wi’ balmy breath, gars verdure spring anew,
And ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Sae, lest ‘mid fortune’s sunshine we should feel owre proud and hie,
And in our pride forget to wipe the tear frae poortith’s ee,
Some wee dark clouds o’ sorrow come, we ken na whence or hoo,
But ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

The Salutation of Ibm Mashish

06-10 Mashish
Abdeslam Ibn Mashish Alami
Moroccan
1163 – 1228

 

O Allah shower Your blessings upon him from whom burst open the secrets,
From whom stream forth the lights,
And in whom rise up the realities,
And upon whom descended the sciences of Adam, by which all creatures are made powerless,
And blessings upon him before whom all understanding is diminished.
None of us totally comprehend him, whether in the past or the future.
The gardens of the spiritual kingdom blossom ornately with the resplendence of his beauty,
And the reservoirs of the World of Dominion overflow with the outpouring of his light.
There is nothing that is not connected to him,
Because if there were no intercessor, everything to be interceded for would vanish, as it is said.
So bless him with a prayer that is worthy of You, from You, as befits his stature.
O Allah indeed he is Your all-encompassing secret that leads through You to You
And he is Your Supreme Veil raised before You, between Your Hands.
O Allah include me among his descendants and confirm me through his account
And let me know him with a deep knowledge that keeps me safe from the wells of ignorance,
So that I might drink to fullness from the wells of excellence.
Carry me on his path to Your Presence
Encompassed by Your Victory,
And strike through me at the false so that I may destroy it.
Plunge me into the seas of Oneness,
Pull me out of the morass of metaphorical Unity,
And drown me in the Essence of the Ocean of Unicity
Until I neither see, nor hear, nor find, nor sense, except through It.
O Allah make the Supreme Veil the life of my spirit
And his soul the secret of my reality
And his reality the conflux of my worlds
Through the realization of the First Truth.
O First! O Last! O Manifest! O Most Hidden!
Hear my call as You heard the call of your servant Zachary
And grant me victory through You for You,
And support me through You, for You,
And join me to You
And come between myself and anything other than You—

The Rose Garland

06-09 Klopstock
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
German
1724 – 1803

 

In the shade of spring I found her
then with garlands of roses bound her;
she did not feel it and slumbered on.

I looked at her: my life hung
upon her life with this glance;
I truly felt it, and knew it not.

But speechlessly I whispered to her
and rustled with the rose garlands;
then she woke from slumber.

She looked at me; her life hung
upon my life with this one glance
and around us rose Elysium.