26 May 2013

Most of all I wanted to see your eyes

                           Yannis Keats

                                   +--------`               by Angelos Sikelianos

A branch, the hand of Apollo,
The plane tree’s polished, broad bough,
Spread above you, may it bring you
The universe’s immortal peace.

You'd meet me on the broad and shining shore
            Of Pylos, so I'd planned,
With Mentor's tall ship pulled up on the beach
          Snug in the sand.

We would be bound, as those who sailed with the gods,
         In the winged friendship of youth,
And would take our seats in the stone thrones that Time
         And custom had made smooth

And meet that man who still in the third generation
        Reigned serene, a sage
Whose tales of travels and holy decrees had ripened
        In his mind with age --

At dawn we'd attend the sacrifice to the gods,

        The ritual slaughterers
Of the three-year old heifers, and hear the single cry
        That rose from his three daughters.

When the axe thwacked, and the black-fringed, slow-rolling eye
        Drowned in a swoon
Of darkness, and the gilt horns were rendered idle,
      A hazy half moon.

My love imagined you, as a sister her brother
      In your virginal bath,
How Polycaste rinsed your naked body and dressed you
      In a robe of fine cloth.

I thought to prod you a little with my foot
      As dawn was about to break:
The gleaming chariot's yoked for us and ready.
     No time to lose! Awake!

And to spend all day in the talk that comes and goes,
     Or silence, when no one spoke,
While we drove the horses who were always leaning one way
     Or another against the yoke,

But most of all I wanted to see your eyes,
     Your deer-like eyes, behold
The palace of Menelaus, and forget themselves
     In bronze and the gleam of gold.

Unwavering gaze, sinking the sight so deep,
     You'd never remember
The figured silver, the ivory, gilded or whte,
    The heavy amber,

And I thought that I would say in a hushed voice
    Leaning close to your ear,
Watch out, my friend, because in a moment, soon,
    Helen will appear

Before our very eyes, the one and only
    Daughter of the Swan,
And then we will sink our eyelids in the river
    Of Oblivion.


So brightly I saw you; but what grassy roads
     Have led me to your tomb!
And the blazing roses with which I strew your grave
    And make all Rome abloom,

Light the way unto your golden songs
    As though they were the brave,
Armed bodies that turn to dust before one's eyes
    In an ancient, new-breached grave,

And all the worth treasure of Mycenae
    The golden plunder
I thought to lay before you -- goblet, sword,
    And diadem -- past wonder,

A mask on your dead beauty like the mask
    That covered the face
Of the king of the Achaeans,
    Hammered upon Death's trace.

19 May 2013

The great door in the air

by Ted Hughes    

            Opus 131        

Opus 131 in C sharp minor
Opened the great door
In the air, and through it
Flooded horror. The door in the hotel room
And the curtain at the window and even
The plain homely daylight blocking the window
Were in the wrong dimension
To shut it out. The counterpoint pinned back
The flaps of the body. Naked, faceless,
The heart panted there, lie a fetus.
Where was the lifeline music? What had happened
To consolation, prayer, transcendence --
To the selective disconnecting
Of the pain center? Dark insects
Fought with their instruments
Scampering through your open body
As if you had already left it. Beethoven
Had broken down. You strained, listening
Maybe for divorce to be resolved
In the arithmetic of vibration
To pure zero, for the wave-particles
To pronounce on the unimportance
Of the menopause. Beethoven
Was trying to repair
The huge constellations of his silence
That flickered and glinted in the wind.
But the notes, with their sharp vaces,
Were already carrying you off,
Each with a different bit, into the corners
Of the universe.


Fallen from heaven, lies across
The lap of his mother, broken by world.

But water will go on
Issuing from heaven

In dumbness uttering spirit brightness
Through its broken mouth.

Scattered in a million pieces and buried
Its dry tombs will split, at a sign in the sky,

At a rending of veils.
It will rise, in a time after times,

After swallowing death and the pit
It will return stainless

For the delivery of this world
So the river is a god

Knee-deep among reeds, watching men,
Or hung by the heels down the door of a dam

It is a god, and inviolable.
Immortal.  And will wash itself of all deaths.

From River: New Poems, 1983.

12 May 2013

The first to say star, water, stone

The Makers

                          by Howard Nemerov

Who can remember back to the first poets,
The greatest ones, greater even than Orpheus?
No one has remembered that far back
Or now considers, among the artifacts,
And bones and cantilevered inference
The past is made of, those first and gretest poets,
So lofty and disdainful of renown
They left us not a name to know them by.

They were the ones that in whatever tongue
Worded the world, that were the first to say
Star, water, stone, that said the visible
And made it bring invisbles to view
In wind and time and change, and in the mind
Itself that minded the hitherto idiot world
And spoke the speechless world and sang the towers
Of the city into the astonished sky.

The were the first great listeners, attuned
To interval, relationship, and scale,
The first to say above, beneath, beyond,
Conjurors with love, death, sleep, with bread and wine,
Who having uttered vanished from the world
Leaving no memory but the marvelous
Magical elements, the breathing shapes
And stops of breath we build our Babels of.

05 May 2013

The lunatic fringe

The Lunatic Fringe

                       by Christine Brooke-Rose 
Have you ever felt madness behind your eyes
cold as a draught from a forgotten door,
when you are talking intelligently to those
who think you sane, poised and perhaps a little more
brilliant than that flask of liquid brain allows,
that honeycomb filled with the drugs of bees
out of a season’s hearts, then drained
by the insomniac insolent machinery of love?
Madness, like shame or rage, is not hot as they say,
but like a stylus needling in a groove
to some loudspeaker at a distance of
about God’s nearness to us,
which for the lunatic is close
as his own brain that sometimes runs away
into an ocean of prehistoric fish,
long-playing to the beak of a bird,
and amplified
in, maybe, sex.
I must get into the mad world now.
There is a secret in the lunatic fringe,
a way of impinging
on God without mock-heroics of spirit.
When the soul is anyway lost,
given up with awareness,
generously as a gambit
in life’s deadly conversation with death,
there then can be no remorse,
only the cold closeness of creation,
a white filament of matter through the brain
ejaculating from generation to generation,
like Lucifer, falling.