Tuesday, April 30, 2013

932. The Dead - Billy Collins

The dead are always looking down on us, they say.

while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,

they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven

as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,

and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,

drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,

they think we are looking back at them,

which makes them lift their oars and fall silent

and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

931. The Work of Happiness - May Sarton

I thought of happiness how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day,
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work,
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours,
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone.
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room,
A shelf of books, a table, and the whitewashed wall -
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done.
The growing tree is green and musical

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life's span in a single place;
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness.
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

May Sarton (1912-1995)
from As Does New Hampshire, 1967
(found in http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

930. A Funeral - Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska - A Funeral
Translated from the Polish by Mikołaj Sekrecki

"so suddenly, who would've expected this"
"stress and cigarettes, I was warning him"
"fair to middling, thanks"
"unwrap these flowers"
"his brother snuffed because of his ticker too, must be running in the family"
"I'd never recognise you with your beard"
"it's all his fault, he was always up to some funny business"
"the new one was to give a speech, can't see him, though"
"Kazek's in Warsaw and Tadek abroad"
"you're the only wise one here, having an umbrella"
"it won't help him now that he was the most talented of them all"
"that's a connecting room. Baśka won't like it"
"he was right, true, but that's not the reason for"
"with door varnishing, guess how much"
"two eggs and a spoonful of sugar"
"none of his business, what was the point then"
"blue and small sizes only"
"five times and never a single answer"
"I'll give your that, I could've, but so could you"
"so good at least she had that job"
"I've no idea, must be relatives"
"the priest, very much like Belmondo"
"I've never been to this part of the cemetery"
"I saw him in my dream last week, must've been a premonition"
"pretty, that little daughter"
"we're all going to end up this way"
"give mine to the widow, I've got to hurry to"
"but still it sounded more solemn in Latin"
"you can't turn back the clock"
"how about a beer"
"give me a ring, we'll have a chat"
"number four or number twelve"
"me, this way"
"we, that way".