Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So That You Will Hear Me

So that you will hear me
my words
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.

Necklace, drunken bell
for your hands smooth as grapes.

And I watch my words from a long way off.
They are more yours than mine.
They climb on my old suffering like ivy.

It climbs the same way on damp walls.
You are to blame for this cruel sport.
They are fleeing from my dark lair.
You fill everything, you fill everything.

Be you they peopled the solitude that you occupy,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.

Now I want them to say what I want to say to you
to make you hear as I want you to hear me.

The word of anguish still hauls on them as usual.
Sometimes hurricanes of dreams still knock them over.
You listen to other voices in my painful voice.

Lament of old mouths, blood of old supplications.
Love me, companion. Don't forsake me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, on this wave of anguish.

But my words become stained with your love.
You occupy everything, you occupy everything.

I am making them in into an endless necklace
for your white hands, smooth as grapes.

--Pablo Neruda, translated by WS Merwin

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Go Far Off

 Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
- Pablo Neruda

A Contribution to Statistics

 Out of a hundred people

those who always know better

doubting every step
-nearly all the rest,

glad to lend a hand
if it doesn't take too long
-as high as forty-nine,

always good
because they can't be otherwise
-four, well maybe five,

able to admire without envy

suffering illusions
induced by fleeting youth
-sixty, give or take a few,

not to be taken lightly
-forty and four,

living in constant fear
of someone or something

capable of happiness
-twenty-something tops,

harmless singly, savage in crowds
-half at least,

when forced by circumstances
-better not to know
even ballpark figures,

wise after the fact
-just a couple more
than wise before it,

taking only things from life
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
sooner or later,

-thirty-five, which is a lot,

and understanding

worthy of compassion

-a hundred out of a hundred.
thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

- Wislawa Szymborska

Monday, March 29, 2010

Only retrieve them from the cities' guilt,
where everything for them is anger and confusion,
and wounded patience sucks them dry.

Has the earth, then, no room for them?
Whom does the wind seek? For whom
is the wet glistening of streams?

Is there by the banks
of the pond's deep dreaming
nowhere they can see their faces reflected?

They need only, as a tree does,
a little space in which to grow.

R.M. Rilke

This Is the Creature

This is the creature there has never been.
They never knew it, and yet, none the less,
they loved the way it moved, its suppleness,
its neck, its very gaze, mild and serene.

Not there, because they loved it, it behaved
as though it were. They always left some space.
And in that clear unpeopled space they saved
it lightly reared its head, with scarce a trace

of not being there. They fed it, not with corn,
but only with the possibility
of being. And that was able to confer

such strength, its brow put forth a horn. One horn.
Whitely it stole up to a maid - to be
within the silver mirror and in her.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What the Doctor Said

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

-Raymond Carver

Late Fragment

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

-Raymond Carver