Wednesday, 27 February 2013


 Rainer Maria Rilke painted by Paula Modersohn-Becker in 1906

School’s long anxiety and time slips past
with waiting, in endless dreary things.
O solitude, O heavy spending on and on of time . . . 
And then outside: the streets flash and ring
and on the squares the fountains leap
and the world becomes boundless in the gardens.
And to walk through it all in one’s small suit,
so unlike the way others walked and sauntered - ;
O wondrous time, O spending on and on of time,
O solitude.

And to look far off into it all:
men and women, men, more men, women
and then children, who are different and bright;
and here a house and now and then a dog
and fear changing places soundlessly with trust - ;
O sadness without cause, ,O dream, O dread,
O endless depth.

And so to play: ball and hoop and handstands
in a garden that keeps softly fading,
and to collide sometimes against grownups
blindly and wildly in the rush of tag,
but at evening quietly, with small stiff steps
to walk back home, your hand firmly held - ;
O ever more escaping grasp of things,
O weight, O fear.

And for hours at the big gray pond
to kneel entranced with a small sailboat;
to neglect it, because other, identical yet
more beautiful sails glide through the rings,
and to have to think about the small pale face
that sinking gazed back out of the pond - ;
O childhood, O likeness gliding off . . . 
Where? Where?

Rainer Maria Rilke
translated from the German by Edward Snow

from 'Being Human’, the companion anthology to
‘Staying Alive’ and 'Being Alive’ edited by Neil Astley.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


The Garden Of Eden - Michelangelo

Call yourself alive? Look, I promise you
that for the first time you’ll feel your pores opening
like a fish mouth, and you’ll actually be able to hear
your blood surging through all those lanes,
and you’ll feel light gliding across the cornea
like the train of a dress. For the first time
you’ll be aware of gravity
like a thorn in your heel,
and your shoulder blades will ache for want of wings.
Call yourself alive ? I promise you
you’ll be deafened by the sound of dust falling on furniture,
you’ll feel your eyebrows turning to two gashes,
and every memory you have - will begin
at Genesis.

Nina Cassian
1924 -

translated from the Romanian by Brenda Walker and Andrea Deletant

The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry

Sunday, 3 February 2013

WINTER From The Life Of Love

Come close to me, oh companion of my full life;
Come close to me and let not Winter's touch
Enter between us. Sit by me before the hearth,
For fire is the only fruit of Winter.

Speak to me of the glory of your heart, for
That is greater than the shrieking elements
Beyond our door.
Bind the door and seal the transoms, for the
Angry countenance of the heaven depresses my
Spirit, and the face of our snow-laden fields
Makes my soul cry.

Feed the lamp with oil and let it not dim, and
Place it by you, so I can read with tears what
Your life with me has written upon your face.

Bring Autumn's wine. Let us drink and sing the
Song of remembrance to Spring's carefree sowing,
And Summer's watchful tending, and Autumn's
Reward in harvest.

Come close to me, oh beloved of my soul; the
Fire is cooling and fleeing under the ashes.
Embrace me, for I fear loneliness; the lamp is
Dim, and the wine which we pressed is closing
Our eyes. Let us look upon each other before
They are shut.
Find me with your arms and embrace me; let
Slumber then embrace our souls as one.
Kiss me, my beloved, for Winter has stolen
All but our moving lips.

You are close by me, My Forever.
How deep and wide will be the ocean of Slumber,
And how recent was the dawn!

Khalil Gibran