I Met a Dragon Face to Face

Jack Prelutsky
American
b. 1940

 

I met a dragon face to face
the year when I was ten,
I took a trip to outer space,
I braved a pirate’s den,
I wrestled with a wicked troll,
and fought a great white shark,
I trailed a rabbit down a hole,
I hunted for a snark.

I stowed aboard a submarine,
I opened magic doors,
I traveled in a time machine,
and searched for dinosaurs,
I climbed atop a giant’s head,
I found a pot of gold,
I did all this in books I read
when I was ten years old.

The Incense Burner

Abus Salt
Arab Andalusian
1067 – 1134

 

Though its heart was all aflame.
Yet it never knew that same
Grief of parting, and that woe
Sundered lovers know.

When the lightning of the wine
Bathed the drinkers in its shine,
What a brave cloud billowed thence
Sweet with frankincense!
Never saw I, all my days,
Such a conflagration blaze
To persuade the revellers
Paradise was theirs.

A Strange Heart

Gamina El Alaily
Egyptian
1907 – 1991

 

O God, my heart is dreadful. How can I revive it?
Who can lull and calm down my heart?
The sound of arrogance is deafening my ear today,
I would have talked to it had I not had self-praise.
Strange my heart has become when in love.
Pure love it is, anyone to perceive?
I have become flabbergast at my ordeal,
I conceal none of my love fears.
I ask God to inspire me.
Do I have a living heart or should I lament its death?

If One Can Save One’s Soul by Lying

In honor of the German holiday, Three Kings Day, we present this work by one of Medeival Germany’s most significant poets.

Hartmann von Aue
German
1165 – 1210

 

If one can save one’s soul by lying,
Then I know someone who is holy.
He has often sworn false oaths to me.
His shrewd cunning overwhelmed me
And I chose him as a friend.
I thought I had found in him constancy.
But my own good sense deserted me,
As I now announce to the world:
He is as free of duplicity
As the sea is free of waves.

Why should I seek help from others
Since it was my own heart that deceived me?
It led me to the one
Who is worthless to me or to any good woman.
It hardly honors men
How this man conducts himself with regard to women.
He is so well versed in uttering sweet phrases
That one could not write them down.
I followed them even onto slippery ice.
Now I am suffering the harm they caused.

If I were now to begin to detest all men,
I would do so out of hatred of him alone.
But how are they all at fault for this?
Many men show better gratitude to their ladies.
One lady, by using her good sense,
Chose a friend who makes her happy.
She is laughing while I am sad.
Our lives play themselves out quite differently.
I have begun with suffering.
May God, the mighty One, ease my pain.

Beatrice

Konstantin Balmont
Russian
1867 – 1942

 

I fell in love with you, just when had seen you, dearest,
I still recall the simplest talk around us,
You were just one the mute, and speech of fire, fierce,
In lost of sounds words, were send me by your eyes.

Days by the days were sunk. The year had passed since then.
And spring is sending us its living rays, once more,
The flowers are set in fairy dress again,
But I’m? I’m still in love with you as was before.

And you’re, as in the past, the silent one and sad;
Only your look sometimes is glowing and speaking,
Not in such way, sometimes, the moon – an empress, great, –

Is hiding her bright face behind a mound, pricking? –
Yet, and behind the rock, with her forehead inclined,
From darkness, narrow, she sheds the gorgeous light.

The Wind from the West

Ella Young
Irish
1867 – 1956

 

Blow high, blow low,
O wind from the West;
You come from the country
I love the best.

O say have the lilies
Yet lifted their heads
Above the lake-water
That ripples and spreads?

Do the little sedges
Still shake with delight,
And whisper together
All through the night?

Have the mountains the purple
I used to love,
And peace about them,
Around and above?