22 May 2016

When suddenly there is heard at midnight


                                  The God Abandons Anthony

                                      by Constantinos P. Cavafy

When suddenly there is heard at midnight
A company passing invisible
With wonderful music, with voices, -
Your fortune giving way now, your works
Which have failed, the plans of a lifetime
All turned illusions, do not mourn uselessly.
As one prepared long since, courageously,

Say farewell to her, to Alexandria who is leaving.
Above all do not be tricked, never say it was
All a dream, and that your hearing was deceived;
Do not stop to such vain hopes as these.

As one prepared long since, courageously,
As becomes one worthy as you were of such a city,
Firmly draw near the window,
And listen with emotion but not
with the complainings and entreaties of cowards,
Listen, your last enjoyment, to the sounds,
The wonderful instruments of the mystic company,
And say farewell, farewell to Alexandria you are losing.

The poems of C.P. Cavafy. Trans. J. Mavrogordatos. 1951

                                  Anthony & Cleopatra
                                   by Wm. Shakespeare

Alexandria. Before CLEOPATRA's palace

Enter a company of soldiers

FIRST SOLDIER. Brother, good night. To-morrow is the day.
SECOND SOLDIER. It will determine one way. Fare you well.
Heard you of nothing strange about the streets?
FIRST SOLDIER. Nothing. What news?
SECOND SOLDIER. Belike 'tis but a rumour. Good night to you.
FIRST SOLDIER. Well, sir, good night.
[They meet other soldiers]
SECOND SOLDIER. Soldiers, have careful watch.
FIRST SOLDIER. And you. Good night, good night.
[The two companies separate and place themselves
in every corner of the stage]
SECOND SOLDIER. Here we. And if to-morrow
Our navy thrive, I have an absolute hope
Our landmen will stand up.
THIRD SOLDIER. 'Tis a brave army,
And full of purpose.
[Music of the hautboys is under the stage]

SECOND SOLDIER. Peace, what noise?
THIRD SOLDIER. List, list!
THIRD SOLDIER. Music i' th' air.
FOURTH SOLDIER. Under the earth.
THIRD SOLDIER. It signs well, does it not?
THIRD SOLDIER. Peace, I say!
What should this mean?
SECOND SOLDIER. 'Tis the god Hercules, whom Antony lov'd,
Now leaves him.
THIRD SOLDIER. Walk; let's see if other watchmen
Do hear what we do.
SECOND SOLDIER. How now, masters!
SOLDIERS. [Speaking together] How now!
How now! Do you hear this?
FIRST SOLDIER. Ay; is't not strange?
THIRD SOLDIER. Do you hear, masters? Do you hear?
FIRST SOLDIER. Follow the noise so far as we have quarter;
Let's see how it will give off.
SOLDIERS. Content. 'Tis strange. Exeunt.

16 May 2016

Duck feathers from a gold pillow

Different Places to Pray

                                   by Susan Rich

Everywhere, everywhere she wrote; something is falling –
a ring of keys slips out of her pocket into the ravine below;

nickels and dimes and to do lists; duck feathers from a gold pillow.
Everywhere someone is losing a favorite sock or a clock stops

circling the day; everywhere she goes she follows the ghost of her heart;
jettisons everything but the shepherd moon, the hopeless cause.

This is the way a life unfolds: decoding messages from profiteroles,
the weight of mature plums in autumn. She’d prefer a compass

rose, a star chart, text support messages delivered from the net,
even the local pet shop – as long as some god rolls away the gloss

and grime of our gutted days, our global positioning crimes.
Tell me, where do you go to pray – a river valley, a pastry tray?

TLS, May 16, 2016.