My nights are rarely unruly

Not for me a youngman’s death
Not a car crash, whiplash
John Doe, DOA at A&E kind of death.
Not a gun in hand, in a far off land
IED at the roadside death

Not a slow-fade, razor blade
bloodbath in the bath, death.
Jump under a train, Kurt Cobain
bullet in the brain, death

Not a horse-riding paragliding
mountain climbing fall, death.
Motorcycle into an old stone wall
you know the kind of death, death

My nights are rarely unruly. My days
of allnight parties are over, well and truly.
No mistresses no red sports cars
no shady deals no gangland bars
no drugs no fags no rock’n’roll
Time alone has taken its toll

Not for me a youngman’s death
Not a domestic brawl, blood in the hall
knife in the chest, death.
Not a drunken binge, dirty syringe
“What a waste of a life” death.

Not for Me a Youngman’s Death
By Roger McGough

At home

POEMA A UN GATO

No son más silenciosos los espejos
Ni más furtiva el alba aventurera;
Eres, bajo la luna, esa pantera
Que nos es dado divisar de lejos.

Por obra indescifrable de un decreto
Divino, te buscamos vanamente;
Más remoto que el Ganges y el poniente,
Tuya es la soledad, tuyo el secreto.

Tu lomo condesciende a la morosa
Caricia de mi mano.
Has admitido,
Desde esa eternidad que ya es olvido,
El amor de la mano recelosa.

En otro tiempo estás.
Eres el dueño
De un ámbito cerrado como un sueño.

Jorge Luis Borges, El oro de los tigres, 1972

 

To a cat

Mirrors are not more wrapt in silences
nor the arriving dawn more secretive;
you, in the moonlight, are that panther figure
which we can only spy at from a distance.
By the mysterious functioning of some
divine decree, we seek you out in vain;
remoter than the Ganges or the sunset,
yours is the solitude, yours is the secret.
Your back allows the tentative caress
my hand extends. And you have condescended
since that forever, now oblivion,
to take love from a flattering human hand.
You live in other time, lord of your realm —
a world as closed and separate as dream.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alastair Reid, 1977)

when time from time shall set us free

in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me

e. e.  cummings

 

 

Photo: Warsaw, 2012

one­-less-­days

“The Verb to Be,“ a Poem by André Breton

I know the general outline of despair. Despair has no wings, it doesn’t necessarily sit at a cleared table in the evening on a terrace by the sea. It’s despair and not the return of a quantity of insignificant facts like seeds that leave one furrow for another at nightfall. It’s not the moss that forms on a rock or the foam that rocks in a glass. It’s a boat riddled with snow, if you will, like birds that fall and their blood doesn’t have the slightest thickness. I know the general outline of despair. A very small shape, defined by jewels worn in the hair. That’s despair. A pearl necklace for which no clasp can be found and whose existence can’t even hang by a thread. That’s despair for you. Let’s not go into the rest. Once we begin to despair we don’t stop. I myself despair of the lampshade around four o’clock, I despair of the fan towards midnight, I despair of the cigarette smoked by men on death row. I know the general outline of despair. Despair has no heart, my hand always touches breathless despair, the despair whose mirrors never tell us if it’s dead. I live on that despair which enchants me. I love that blue fly which hovers in the sky at the hour when the stars hum. I know the general outline of the despair with long slender surprises, the despair of pride, the despair of anger. I get up every day like everyone else and I stretch my arms against a floral wallpaper. I don’t remember anything and it’s always in despair that I discover the beautiful uprooted trees of night. The air in the room is as beautiful as drumsticks. What weathery weather. I know the general outline of despair. It’s like the curtain’s wind that holds out a helping hand. Can you imagine such a despair? Fire! Ah they’re on their way … Help! Here they come falling down the stairs … And the ads in the newspaper, and the illuminated signs along the canal. Sandpile, beat it, you dirty sandpile! In its general outline despair has no importance. It’s a squad of trees that will eventually make a forest, it’s a squad of stars that will eventually make one less day, it’s a squad of one­-less-­days that will eventually make up my life.

Translated from the French by Bill Zavatsky and Zack Rogow via The Paris Review


Original Poem can be read here

Photo me by F.M.

Aimless

Retrato de uma princesa desconhecida
Para que ela tivesse um pescoço tão fino
Para que os seus pulsos tivessem um quebrar de caule
Para que os seus olhos fossem tão frontais e limpos
Para que a sua espinha fosse tão direita
E ela usasse a cabeça tão erguida
Com uma tão simples claridade sobre a testa
Foram necessárias sucessivas gerações de escravos
De corpo dobrado e grossas mãos pacientes
Servindo sucessivas gerações de príncipes
Ainda um pouco toscos e grosseiros
Ávidos cruéis e fraudulentos

Foi um imenso desperdiçar de gente
Para que ela fosse aquela perfeição
Solitária exilada sem destino

Portrait of an Unknown Princess
For her to have such a slender neck
For her wrists to bend like flower stems
For her eyes to be so clear and direct
Her back so straight
Her head so high
With such a natural glow on her forehead
It took successive generations of slaves
With stooping bodies and patient rough hands
Serving successive generations of princes
Still a bit coarse still a bit crude
Cruel greedy and conniving

It took an enormous squandering of life
For her to be
That lonely exiled aimless perfection

© 1991, Sophia de Mello Breyner
From: Obra Poética III
Publisher: Caminho, Lisboa
© Translation: 2004, Richard Zenith

And sometimes

“E por vezes”

E por vezes as noites duram meses
E por vezes os meses oceanos
E por vezes os braços que apertamos
nunca mais são os mesmos  E por vezes

encontramos de nós em poucos meses
o que a noite nos fez em muitos anos
E por vezes fingimos que lembramos
E por vezes lembramos que por vezes

ao tomarmos o gosto aos oceanos
só o sarro das noites   não dos meses
lá no fundo dos copos encontramos

E por vezes sorrimos ou choramos
E por vezes por vezes ah por vezes
num segundo se evolam tantos anos

David Mourão-Ferreira

And an attempt at a literal translation

And sometimes the nights last for months

And sometimes the months last for oceans 

And sometimes the arms that we tighten 

never again are the same And sometimes 

We find in ourselves in a few months what the night did to us in many years 

And sometimes we pretend to remember And sometimes we remember that sometimes

when we taste the oceans 

Just the lees of nights not months we find in the bottom of our glass

And sometimes we smile or cry

And sometimes sometimes ah ah sometimes in a second, so many years go by 

This is not solitude, ’tis but to hold

solo

To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene,
Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, ‘tis but to hold
Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unrolled.

But midst the crowd, the hurry, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel and to possess,
And roam alone, the world’s tired denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less
Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!

George Gordon Byron

Photo: Flying to Poznan, June 2016

Solitude