Who Is a Poet ... by Rozewicz

a poet is one who writes verses
and one who does not write verses

a poet is one who throws off fetters
and one who puts fetters on himself

a poet is one who believes
and one who cannot bring himself to believe

a poet is one who has told lies
and one who has been told lies

one who has been inclined to fall
and one who raises himself

a poet is one who tries to leave
and one who cannot leave

- Tadeusz Rozewicz (1921-)

translated by Magnus Jan Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

Poem with a Tail ... by Kanik

We can't be seen together. Our paths are separate.
You belong to the butcher, I am an alley cat.
You eat from a nickeled plate.
I eat from the lion's mouth.
You dream of love. I dream of bones.

But your path isn't easy either, pal,
Not easy
To wag a tail every godforsaken day.

- Orhan Veli Kanik (1914-1950)

translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat

Nothing More ... by Neruda

I made my contract with the truth
to restore light to the earth.

I wished to be like bread.
The struggle never found me wanting.

But here I am with what I loved,
with the solitude I lost.
In the shadow of the stone, I do not rest.

The sea is working, working in my silence.

- Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

translated by Alastair Reid

The Human Species ... by Queneau

The human species has given me
the right to be mortal
the duty to be civilized
a conscience
2 eyes that don't always function very well
a nose in the middle of my face
2 feet 2 hands

the human species has given me
my father and mother
some brothers maybe who knows
a whole mess of cousins
and some great-grandfathers

the human species has given me
its 3 faculties
feeling intellect and will
each in moderation
32 teeth and 10 fingers a liver
a heart and some other viscera

the human species has given me
what I'm supposed to be satisfied with

- Raymond Queneau (1903-1976)

Translated by Michael Benedikt

"What History Fails to Mention is" ... by Synder

What history fails to mention is

Most everybody lived their lives
With friends and children, played it cool,
Left truth & beauty to the guys
Who tricked for bigshots, and were fools.

- Gary Synder (1930-)

from Left Out in the Rain (1986)

The Shepard XXX ... by Pessoa

If they want me to be a mystic, fine. So I'm a mystic.
I'm a mystic, but only of the body.
My soul is simple; it doesn't think.

My mysticism consists in not desiring to know,
In living without thinking about it.

I don't know what Nature is; I sing it.
I live on a hilltop
In a solitary cabin.
And that's what it's all about.

- Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935)

translated by Edwin Honig

Poet's Work ... by Niedecker

advised me:
Learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoff
from this

- Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970)

The Advantages of Learning ... by Rexroth

I am a man with no ambitions
And few friends, wholly incapable
Of making a living, growing no
Younger, fugitive from some just doom.
Lonely, ill-clothed, what does it matter?
At midnight I make myself a jug
Of hot white wine and cardamon seeds.
In a torn grey robe and old beret,
I sit in the cold writing poems,
Drawing nudes on the crooked margins,
Copulating with sixteen year old
Nymphomaniacs of my imagination.

- Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)

from The Phoenix and the Tortoise (1944)

Make Strong Old Dreams Lest Our World Lose Heart ... by Pound

Make strong old dreams lest this our world lose heart

For man is a skin full of wine
But his soul is a hole full of God
And the song of all time blows through him
As winds through a knot-holed board.

Though man be a skin full of wine
Yet his heart is a little child
That croucheth low beneath the wind
When the God-storm battereth wild.

- Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
from A Lume Spento (1908)

Body, Remember ... by Cavafy

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds you lay on,
but also those desires that glowed openly
in the eyes that looked at you,
trembled for you in the voices--
only some chance obstacle frustrated them.
Now that it's finally in the past,
it seems almost as if you gave yourself
to those desires too--how they glowed,
remember, in the eyes that looked at you,
remember, body, how they trembled for you
in those voices.

- Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933)

translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard

The Eye ... by Creeley

and clouds, will
we drift

than that we
look at,

moon's and

- Robert Creeley (1926-2005)
from Selected Poems (1976)

Backwards ... by Creeley

Nowhere before you
any of this.

- Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

from Selected Poems 1976

Euripides the Athenian ... by Seferis

He grew old between the fires of Troy
and the quarries of Sicily.

He liked sea-shore caves and pictures of the sea.
He saw the veins of men
as a net the gods made to catch us in like wild beasts:
he tried to break through it.
He was a sour man, his friends were few;
when his time came he was torn to pieces by dogs.

- George Seferis (1900-1971)

Translated by Edmund Keely & Philip Sherrard

Ultimate Reality ... by Lawrence

A young man said to me:
I am interested in the problem of Reality.

I said: Really!
Then I saw him turn to glance, surreptitiously,
in the big mirror, at his own fascinating shadow.

- D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

A Theological Definition ... by Oppen

A small room, the varnished floor
Making an L around the bed,

What is or is true as

Windows opening on the sea,
The green painted railings of the balcony
Against the rock, the bushes and the sea running

- George Oppen (1908-1984)

from Of Being Numerous (1967)

The Night has a Thousand Eyes ... by Bourdillon

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

- Francis William Bourdillon (1852-1921)

Tiresias Drinking ... by Clayton Eshleman

on his hands in Hades, head into Odysseus's
ewe-blood filled trench, saw through
Hades, as if "down" into an earlier prophecy:

as Pangaea separated into Laurasia and Gondwanaland,
so were creatures to separate into animals and men.
Would the separation continuum end when men

extracted language from the beasts?
As Tiresias drank animal blood to be able to speak
in Hades, so in an earlier abyss did

hominids, becoming men, swallow skulls of blood
that animal sounds might dream in them,
and take on the shapes of men? Tiresias saw

that the etymology of magic was in maggots,
each in syllable rags, wending their way
out a bison belly's imploded cavern,

that the prophet's task is to conduct
the savagery of the grass, to register
the zeros rising from the circuits of the dead

in suspension below, mouths forever frozen at
the roller coaster's summit in wild hello.

- Clayton Eshleman (1935-)

from Fracture (1983)

Be Angry at the Sun ... by Robinson Jeffers

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting

If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope
and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people,
those warriors,
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies,
the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You
are far
From Dante's feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes
to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

- Robinson Jeffers (1886-1962)

The Bloody Sire ... by Robinson Jeffers

It is not bad. Let them play.
Let the guns bark and the bombing-plane
Speak his prodigious blasphemies.
It is not bad, it is high time,
Stark violence is still the sire of all the world's values.

What but the wolf's tooth whittled so fine
The fleet limbs of the antelope?
What but fear winged the birds, and hunger
Jeweled with such eyes the great goshawk's head?
Stark violence has been the sire of all the world's values.

Who would remember Helen's face
Lacking the terrible halo of spears?
Who formed Christ but Herod and Caesar,
The cruel and bloody victories of Caesar?
Violence, the bloody sire of all the world's values.

Never weep, let them play,
Old violence is not too old to beget new values.

- Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

from Be Angry at the Sun (1941)

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems ...by James Tate

They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"

- James Tate (b.1943)

Curiously Young Like a Freshly-Dug Grave ... by Richard Brautigan

Curiously young like a freshly-dug grave
the day parades in circles like a top
with rain falling in its shadow.

- Richard Brautigan (1935 -1984)

The Reader ...by Janet Lewis

Sun creep under the eaves,
And shines on the bare floor
While he forgets the earth.

Cool ashes on the hearth,
And all so still save for
The soft turning of leaves.

A creature fresh from birth
Clings to the screen door,
Heaving damp heavy wings.

- Janet Lewis (1899-1998)

Song ...by Ezra Pound

Love thou thy dream
All base love scorning,
Love thou the wind
And here take warning
That dreams alone can truly be,
For 'tis in dream I come to thee.

- Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

(A Lume Spento 1908)