Sunday, April 26, 2009

783. Annunciation - Kay Smith

for Kathy
(Artist Simone Martini, Sienese painter)

In all the old paintings
The virgin is reading––
No one know what,
When she is disturbed
By an angel with a higher mission,
Beyond books.

She looks up reluctantly,
Still marking the place with her finger.
The angel is impressive,
With red shoes and just
A hint of wing and shine everywhere.
Listening to the measured message
The Virgin bows her head,
Her eyes aslant
Between the angel and the book.

At the Uffizi
We stood
Before a particularly beautiful angel
And a hesitant Sienese Virgin,
We two sometimes woman.
Believing we could ignore
all messages,
Unobliged to wings or words,
We laughed in the vibrant space
Between the two,
somewhere in the angled focus
Of the Virgin's eye.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

782. Rubins' Women - Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska - Rubens' Women (1)
Translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

Titanettes, female fauna,
naked as the rumbling of barrels.
They roost in trampled beds,
asleep, with mouths agape, ready to crow.
Their pupils have fled into flesh
and sound the glandular depths
from which yeast seeps into their blood.

Daughters of the Baroque. Dough
thickens in troughs, baths steam, wines blush,
cloudy piglets careen across the sky,
triumphant trumpets neigh the carnal alarm.

O pumpkin plump! 0 pumped-up corpulence
inflated double by disrobing
and tripled by your tumultuous poses!
O fatty dishes of love!

Their skinny sisters woke up earlier,
before dawn broke and shone upon the painting.
And no one saw how they went single file
along the canvas's unpainted side.

Exiled by style. Only their ribs stood out.
With birdlike feet and palms, they strove
to take wing on their jutting shoulder blades.

The thirteenth century would have given them golden haloes.
The twentieth, silver screens.
The seventeenth, alas, holds nothing for the unvoluptuous.

For even the sky bulges here
with pudgy angels and a chubby god -
thick-whiskered Phoebus, on a sweaty steed,
riding straight into the seething bedchamber.

Wislawa Szymborska - Rubens' Women (2)
Translated by Joanna Trzeciak

Herculasses, a feminine fauna.
Naked as the crashing of barrels.
Cooped up atop trampled beds.
They sleep with mouths poised to crow.
Their pupils have retreated in the depths,
and penetrate to the heart of their glands,
trickling yeast into their blood.

Daughters of the Baroque. Dough bloats in a bowl,
baths are steaming, wines are blushing.
piglets of cloud are dashing across the sky,
trumpets neigh in physical alarm.

O pumpkinned, O excessive ones,
doubled by your unveiling,
trebled by your violent poses,
fat love dishes.

Their skinny sisters got up earlier,
before dawn broke within the painting,
and no one saw them walking single file
on the unpainted side of the canvas.

Exiles of style. Ribs all counted.
Birdlike feet and hands.
They try to ascend on gaunt shoulderblades.

The thirteenth century would have given them a golden backdrop.
The twentieth, a silver screen.
But the seventeenth has nothing for the flat-chested.

For even the sky curves in relief––
curvaceous angles, a curvaceous god––
a moustached Apollo astride a sweaty steed
enters the steaming bedchamber.

Wislawa Szymborska - The Women of Rubens (3)
Translated from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

Giantesses, female fauna,
naked as the rumbling of barrels.
They sprawl in trampled beds,
sleep with mouths agape for crowing.
Their eyes have fled into the depths
and penetrate to the very core of glands
from which yeast seeps into the blood.

Daughters of the Baroque. Dough rises in kneading–troughs,
baths are asteam, wines glow ruby,
piglets of cloud gallop across the sky
trumpets neigh an alert of the flesh.

O meloned, O excessive ones,
doubled by the flinging off of shifts,
trebled by the violence of posture,
you lavish dishes of love!

Their slender sisters had risen earlier,
before dawn broke in the picture.
No one noticed how, single file, they
had moved to the canvas's unpainted side.

Exiles of style. Their ribs all showing,
their feet and hands of birdlike nature.
Trying to take wing on bony shoulder blades.

The thirteenth century would have given them a golden background.
the twentieth––a silver screen.
The seventeenth had nothing for the flat of chest.

For even the sky is convex
convex the angels and convex the god––
mustachioed Phoebus who on a sweaty
mount rides into the seething alcove.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

781. Waiting For Icarus - Muriel Rukeyser

He said he would be back and we'd drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don't cry

I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying : Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added : Women who love such are the worst of all
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.