Saturday, August 31, 2013

945. James Joyce - Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Kessler

In one day of mankind are all the days
of time, from that unimaginable
first day of time, when a formidable
God prearranged the days and agonies,
to that other day when the perpetual river
of earthly time flows round to its headwaters,
the Eternal, and is extinguished in the present,
the future, the past, the passing—what is now mine.
The story of the world is told from dawn
to darkness. From the depths of night I've seen
at my feet the wanderings of the Jews,
Carthage destroyed, Hell, and Heaven's bliss.
Grant me, Lord, the courage and the joy
I need to scale the summit of this day.
                        —Cambridge, 1968

Monday, August 26, 2013

944. Transcendental Etude - Adrienne Rich

No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
—And in fact we can't live like that: we take on
everything at once before we've even begun
to read of mark time, we're forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.

Monday, August 19, 2013

943. The Day Is A Poem - Robinson Jeffers

(September 10,1939)

This morning Hitler spoke in Danzig, we heard his voice.
A man of genius: that is, of amazing
Ability, courage, devotion, cored on a sick child's soul,
Heard clearly through the dog wrath, a sick child
Wailing in Danzig; invoking destruction and wailing at it.
Here, the day was extremely hot; about noon
A south wind like a blast from hell's mouth spilled a slight rain
On the parched land, and at five a light earthquake
Danced the house, no harm done.
Tonight I have been amusing myself
Watching the blood-red moon droop slowly
Into black sea through bursts of dry lightning and distant thunder.
Well: the day is a poem: but too much
Like one of Jeffer's, crusted with blood and barbaric omens,
Painful to excess, inhuman as a hawk's cry.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

942. Through Two Points Only One Straight Line Can Pass -

(Theorem in geometry)

A planet once got married to a star,
and inside, voices talked of future war.
I only know what I was told in class:
through two points only one straight line can pass.

A stray dog chased us down an empty street.
I threw a stone; the dog would not retreat.
The king of Babel stooped to eating grass.
Through two points only one straight line can pass.

Your small sob is enough for many pains,
as locomotive-power can pull long trains.
When will we step inside the looking-glass?
Through two points only one straight line can pass.

At times I stands apart, at times it rhymes
with you, at times we's singular, at times
plural, at times I don't know what. Alas,
through two points only one straight line can pass.

Our life of joy turns to a life of tears,
our life eternal to a life of years.
Our life of gold became a life of brass.
Through two points only one straight line can pass.

(Thank you Anne)