Thursday, July 22, 2010

859. At Great Pond - Mary Oliver


 At Great Pond

the sun, rising,

scrapes his orange breast

on the thick pines,

and down tumble

a few orange feathers into

the dark water.

On the far shore

a white bird is standing

like a white candle —

or a man, in the distance,

in the clasp of some meditation —

while all around me the lilies

are breaking open again

from the black cave

of the night.

Later, I will consider

what I have seen —

what it could signify —

what words of adoration I might

make of it, and to do this

I will go indoors to my desk—

I will sit in my chair —

I will look back

into the lost morning

in which I am moving, now,

like a swimmer,

so smoothly,

so peacefully,

I am almost the lily —

almost the bird vanishing over the water

on its sleeves of night.

858. Love at First Sight (1)- Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Walter Whipple

Both are convinced
that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together.
Beautiful is such a certainty,
but uncertainty is more beautiful.

Because they didn't know each other earlier, they suppose that
nothing was happening between them.
What of the streets, stairways and corridors
where they could have passed each other long ago?

I'd like to ask them
whether they remember-- perhaps in a revolving door
ever being face to face?
an "excuse me" in a crowd
or a voice "wrong number" in the receiver.
But I know their answer:
no, they don't remember.

They'd be greatly astonished
to learn that for a long time
chance had been playing with them.

Not yet wholly ready
to transform into fate for them
it approached them, then backed off,
stood in their way
and, suppressing a giggle,
jumped to the side.

There were signs, signals:
but what of it if they were illegible.
Perhaps three years ago,
or last Tuesday
did a certain leaflet fly
from shoulder to shoulder?
There was something lost and picked up.
Who knows but what it was a ball
in the bushes of childhood.

There were doorknobs and bells
on which earlier
touch piled on touch.
Bags beside each other in the luggage room.
Perhaps they had the same dream on a certain night,
suddenly erased after waking.

Every beginning
is but a continuation,
and the book of events
is never more than half open.

857. A Man Adrift on a Slim Spar - Stephen Crane

A man adrift on a slim spar
A horizon smaller than the rim of a bottle
Tented waves rearing lashy dark points
The near whine of froth in circles.
God is cold.

The incessant raise and swing of the sea
And growl after growl of crest
The sinkings, green seething, endless
The upheaval half-completed.
God is cold.

The seas are in the hollow of The Hand;
Oceans may be turned to a spray
Raining down through the stars
Because of a gesture of pity toward a babe.
Oceans may become grey ashes,
Die with a long moan and a roar
Amid the tumult of the fishes
And the cries of the ships,
Because The Hand beckons the mice.

A horizon smaller than a doomed assassin’s cap,
Inky, surging tumults
A reeling, drunken sky and no sky
A pale hand sliding from a polished spar.
God is cold.

The puff of a coat imprisoning air:
A face kissing the water-death
A weary slow sway of a lost hand
And the sea, the moving sea, the sea.
God is cold.