The Stray Dog Cabaret: Russian Poems


This is the moment they told us would come some day
when there’s nobody left alive to hear what we say.
The world is no longer the place it used to be
Be still, don’t break my heart. Be silent, poetry.

Anna Akhmatova

Nations, faces, ages pass
Pass as in a dream,
an ever-flowing stream.
In Nature’s shifting glimmer-glass
stars are nets, we their haul,
gods are shadows on a wall.

Velimir Khlebnikov

Every poem is a love-child,
A penniless first-born
Bastard, set by the roadside
To beg from the winds.

Heart’s poison, heart’s adoration,
Heart’s paradise, heart’s grief.
His father may have been an emperor–
May have been a thief.

Marina Tsvetaeva

The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo by Richard Rutt


Last night’s wind spoiled the blossoms
                of every peach tree in the garden.
Is the boy fetching a broom?
                Does he mean to sweep them up?
Fallen flowers, but still they are flowers:
                what need is there to sweep them?
“Love.” It is a lying word.
               That you love me, another lie.
“The loved one is seen in dreams.”
               That is still a greater lie.
How can I, who can never sleep,
               hope to see you in my dreams?
Kim Sangyong (1571-1637)
If my tears were made of pearls,
I would catch them all and save them.
When you came back ten years later,
a jeweled castle should enthrone you.
But these tears leave no trace at all.
So I am left desolate.

Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera


Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera

Very evocative! The early pages describing the small, quiet moments of childhood that you remember for a lifetime–a bird’s shadow, clamoring chickens and fuzzy flowers–are wonderfully vivid. The illustrations that accompany them are perfect for the poem–dreamy colors blending together and soft, thick outlines.

Some of the later stanzas fell flat to me–they tended towards excessive adjectives. The message of the book builds up well across the pages though, and as you read aloud, the “imagine” at the end of each stanza can build up in intensity.

(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)

Solitude, Vanity, Night: Czech Decadent Poetry


Deathly Mood

My soul is a gloomy vaulted cellar
where spider webs envelop every niche.
The breath of mold and dust waft here, and light
strays in but rarely, fearful, pale and sick.

My soul is a vaulted cellar where only
old things are cast to slowly putrefy.
A gray shadow lurks there, long and silent,
and sometimes sighs in the oppressive, deathly quiet.


Heavy, languid from the heat, on the trees a murmur falls
And hangs motionless, while in longing intervals
The oppressed forest breathes and a hot stream of sweat
And a coarse scent from fissured leaves mingles with its breath.
Beneath the rigid trees pale lethargy creeps,
Breathes foreboding in my face, settles next to me and speaks
With my melancholy soul in a language of dead words,
And within me the yearning for timeless mysteries stirs.
The sun’s overripe blossom withers in white gleams,
Quivers in sprays of twilight and sinks through the blue leaves
Into the mute exhaustion of apathetic hush, and quenched
In moss, in springs of mysterious breath,
It lulls me with lassitude, as beneath slow waves
Of blood, flowing over me from my freshly opened veins.

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson


I felt a Cleaving in my Mind –
As if my Brain had split
I tried to match it – Seam by Seam –
But could not make them fit.

Come slowly – Eden!
Lips unused to Thee –
Bashful – sip thy Jessamines –
As the fainting Bee –

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums –
Counts his nectars –
Enters – and is lost in Balms.

The Pedigree of Honey
Does not concern the Bee –
A Clover, any time, to him,
Is Aristocracy –

The Arabian Nights: A Companion by Robert Irwin


“According to a superstition current in the Middle East in the late nineteenth century when Sir Richard Burton was writing, no one can read the whole text of the Arabian Nights without dying.”

“But, while it is true that there are items in the Nights which might pass as fairy tales, the collection’s compass is much wider than this. It also includes long heroic epics, wisdom literature, fables, cosmological fantasy, pornography, scatological jokes, mystical devotional tales, chronicles of low life, rhetorical debates and masses of poetry.”

“Letter magic, ilm al-huruf, was one of the most important sub-sciences in Islamic occultism.”

some interesting info from Irwin’s companion to the Arabian Nights