How Agleam, How Garnished the Spring

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 150th birthday.

Ivan Bunin
Russian
1870 – 1953

 

How agleam, how garnished the spring!
Turn your eyes in the old way upon me:
Say, wherefore this sorrowing?
Why lavish this tenderness on me?

You are mute, as a blossom so frail,
Say naught! — No confession is needed:
The flight of your love I have heeded, —
Lone again is my trail!

Light of Light, O Sun of Heaven

Martin Opitz
German
1597 – 1639

 

Light of light, O Sun of heaven,
O Thou bright and morning Star,
To mankind in mercy given,
Send Thy radiance from afar,
Bringing light to all the earth,
Health and strength, and joy and mirth;
Darkness past, the dawn is breaking,
All creation is awaking.

Still my soul is thickly shrouded
In the chilling mist of sin,
And my conscience is beclouded
By the ignorance within.
Lead me by the hand, I pray,
Lest in error’s path I stray;
Make Thy light my sole attraction,
Guiding every thought and action.

Spirit of the heavenly morning,
Shine into my darkened heart,
That, the way of life discerning,
I may choose the better part.
Make my erring walk secure,
Every thought and action pure;
Whereso’er my feet be turning,
Keep Thy zeal within me burning.

Deign Thy feeble flock to strengthen
By the bonds of sacred love,
And Thy lines of empire lengthen
By Thy power from above.
Help us govern in Thy sight,
That our laws be just and right;
That we suffer no oppression,
Make our land Thine own possession.

Let our lamp of faith be burning
On that awful judgment day.
While in sin’s domain sojourning,
Guide us in the heavenward way:
Then their praise and thanks to Thee,
Lord, in all eternity
Shall Thy happy children render,
For Thy mercies, kind and tender.

The Embroidered Wrap

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn Ali ‘l-fath Ibn Khafaja
Arab Andalusian
1058 – 1138

 

Her glance, like a gazelle’s,
her throat, that of a white deer,
lips red as wine,
teeth white as sea foam.

Tipsiness made her languid.
The gold-embroidered figures
of her wrap swirled round her,
brilliant stars around the moon.

During the night love’s hands
wrapped us in a garment of embraces
ripped open
by the hands of dawn.

Burn the Bridges

Lionel Fogarty
Australian
b. 1958

 

You are vulnerable as glass are fall to peaces
When toiled of the stripping of our prides

You are restless in life
When we’ve born another to fight

All the bridges of your music will burn as soon
As you walk to the centre of our problems

You might have moved to our sacred rights
But your price is high in

Interest rates and then you prowl around
Unrespectful to all black familys homes

You are the dat watch protect and
Laugh as the blackfellas rise

The waiting for the sunrise is like waiting for a past
Of people to come and proclaim the land

But sitting here blocking out the unjustifiable sins
Sins are what you are doing

From the Garden of Heaven

We present this work in honor of Hafez Day.

Hafez
Persian
1326 – 1389

 

From the garden of Heaven a western breeze
Blows through the leaves of my garden of earth;
With a love like a huri I’ld take mine ease,
And wine! bring me wine, the giver of mirth!
To-day the beggar may boast him a king,
His banqueting-hall is the ripening field,
And his tent the shadow that soft clouds fling.

A tale of April the meadows unfold—
Ah, foolish for future credit to slave,
And to leave the cash of the present untold!
Build a fort with wine where thy heart may brave
The assault of the world; when thy fortress falls,
The relentless victor shall knead from thy dust
The bricks that repair its crumbling walls.

Trust not the word of that foe in the fight!
Shall the lamp of the synagogue lend its flame
To set thy monastic torches alight?
Drunken am I, yet place not my name
In the Book of Doom, nor pass judgment on it;
Who knows what the secret finger of Fate
Upon his own white forehead has writ!

And when the spirit of Hafiz has fled,
Follow his bier with a tribute of sighs;
Though the ocean of sin has closed o’er his head,
He may find a place in God’s Paradise.

You Are Indispensable

We present this work in honor of the 15th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Attilâ İlhan
Turkish
1925 – 2005

 

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent …

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih …
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent …

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you—no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters …
perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands …
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?

The Child of Promise

Evan MacColl
Canadian
1808 – 1898

 

She died — as die the roses
On the ruddy clouds of dawn,
When the envious sun discloses
His flame and morning’s gone.
She died—like waves of sun-glow
By fleeting shadows chased;
She died— like heaven’s rainbow
By gushing showers effaced.
She died—like snow glad-gracing
Some sea-marge fair, when lo!
Rude waves each other chasing,
Quick hide it ‘neath their flow.
She died— as dies the glory
Of music’s sweetest swell:

She died—as dies the story
When the best is still to tell
She died— as dies moon-beaming.
When scowls the rayless main:
She died— like sweetest dreaming
Quick changed to waking pain.
She died— and died she early;
Heaven wearied for its own.
As the dipping sun, my Mary,
Thy morning ray went down!

The Wreck

Don Paterson
Scots
b. 1963

 

But what lovers we were, what lovers,
even when it was all over—

the bull-black, deadweight wines that we swung
towards each other rang and rang

like bells of blood, our own great hearts.
We slung the drunk boat out of port

and watched our sober unreal life
unmoor, a continent of grief;

the candlelight strange on our faces
like the tiny silent blazes

and coruscations of its wars.
We blew them out and took the stairs

into the night for the night’s work,
stripped off in the timbered dark,

gently hooked each other on
like aqualungs, and thundered down

to mine our lovely secret wreck.
We surfaced later, breathless, back

to back, and made our way alone
up the mined beach of the dawn.