Wednesday, 31 July 2013


The best of the good people
know that in this life
it’s all a question of proportion;
a little more, a little less . . .

Don’t be surprised, dear friends,
that my forehead is furrowed.
With men I live at peace, but with my insides
I am at war.

The cricket in his cage
by his tomato,
sings, sings, sings.

Pay attention:
a solitary heart
is no heart at all.

In my solitude 
I have seen very clearly
things that are not true.

Antonio Machado

‘Moral Proverbs and Folksongs'
translated from the Spanish by Mary G. Berg and Dennis Maloney

Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz, known as Antonio Machado was a Spanish poet and one of the leading figures of the Spanish literary movement known as the Generation of ’98.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Someone hands you an English thriller,
highly recommended.
You don’t read English.

You’ve worked up a thirst
for something you can’t afford.

You have deep insights,
brand new, and they sound
like an academic glossing Hoelderlin.

You hear the waves at night
ramping against the shore
and you think: that’s what waves do.

Worse: you’re asked out
when at home you get better coffee,
silence, and you don’t expect to be amused.

Awful: not to die in summer
under a bright sky
when the rich dirt
falls easily from the shovel.

Gottfried Benn

‘This is Bad’ translated from the German by  Harvey Shapiro

Gottfried Benn was a German essayist, novelist, and expressionist poet. A doctor of medicine, he initially welcomed but soon thereafter criticized the National Socialist regime.

Monday, 15 July 2013


Stephen Dunn

A state you must dare not enter
with hopes of staying,
quicksand in the marshes, and all

the roads leading to a castle
that doesn’t exist.
But there it is, as promised,

with its perfect bridge above
the crocodiles,
and its doors forever open.

Stephen Dunn

Dunn is an American poet who has written fifteen collections of poetry. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his 2001 collection, Different Hours and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other awards are three National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Rockefeller Foundations Fellowship. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


I have a feeling that my boat 
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.

And nothing
happens! Nothing . . . Silence . . .Waves . . .
- Nothing happens?
Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

Juan Ramon Jiminez

‘Oceans’  translated from the Spanish by  Robert Bly

Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón was a Spanish poet, a prolific writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


In front of the mirror in my parents’ bedroom lay a pink conch. I used to approach it on tiptoes, and with a sudden movement put it against my ears. I wanted to surprise it one day when it wasn’t longing with a monotonous hum for the sea. Although I was small I knew that even if we love someone very much, at times it happens that we forget about it.

Zbigniew Herbert

‘Conch’ translated from the Polish by John and Bogdana Carpenter

 Zbigniew Herbert was a Polish poet, essayist, drama writer, author of plays, and moralist. A member of the Polish resistance movement during World War II, he is one of the best known and the most translated post-war Polish writers.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


What a silence, when you are here, What
a hellish silence.
You sit and I sit.
You lose and I lose.

Janos Pilenszky

translated from the Hungarian by Peter Jay