The Stray Dog Cabaret: Russian Poems

the_Stray_Dog_Cabaret

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

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The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo by Richard Rutt

the_Bamboo_Grove

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?
anonymous
“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.
anonymous

Solitude, Vanity, Night: Czech Decadent Poetry

Solitude_Vanity_Night

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.

Mood

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

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

the_Arabian_Night_a_Companion

“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

The Story of Hong Gildong

the_Story_of_Hong_Gildong

“A figure as quintessentially Korean as Robin Hood in English, one could mention other heroic outlaws like Song Jiang of China, Nezumi Kozo of Japan, Juraj Jánošík of Slovakia, Salvatore Giuliano of Sicily, Ned Kelly of Australia, and Jesse James of Missouri.”

“He had a daughter of such beauty that the moon hid itself and flowers became embarrassed before her fairness.”

“After Gildong perused the texts, he ordered a white horse to be sacrificed and drank its blood.”

“The coordinated movement of wild geese in flight was used as a metaphor for the harmonious relationship of siblings.”

some information and quotes I found interesting from The Story of Hong Gildong

One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth

one hundred more poems from the chinese

“[Tu Fu] shares with [Sappho], Catullus, and Baudelaire, his only possible competitors, a sensibility acute past belief. Like them, he is–possibly paying the price of such a sensibility–considerably neurasthenic and the creator of an elaborate poetic personality, a fictional character half mask, half revelation.”

“More varied in his subjects than the others, [Po Chu-I] was a master of poignant, unforgettable phrases, many of which could be excerpted and stand alone as separate poems. It is this latter characteristic as much as anything else which accounts for his tremendous popularity with the classical poets of Japan, where, as Arthur Waley points out, he is revered as a god of poetry.”

“An exceptionally large number of the emperors of the Six Dynasties and Three Kingdoms were poets, probably due, as in Japan’s Time of Troubles, to the fact that the emperors of the contending states were mostly rois fainéants.”

some excerpts I found interesting from the endnotes of Rexroth’s anthology

 

The 13 Clocks by James Thurber

the_13_Clocks

“He wore an indescribable hat, his eyes were wide and astonished, as if everything were happening for the first time, and he had a dark, describable beard.”

“The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets.”

“Something very much like nothing anyone had ever seen before came trotting down the stairs and crossed the room. ‘What is that?’ the Duke asked, palely. ‘I don’t know what it is,’ said Hark, ‘but it’s the only one there ever was.'”

some quotes I loved from Thurber’s The 13 Clocks

Henri Duchemin and His Shadows by Emmanuel Bove

Henri_Duchemin

“She had the white, unattractive skin of women who never blush.”

“I prefer English gardens to French gardens. It’s not that order and harmony are distasteful to me, nor that the imitation of nature delights me. I simply like not knowing exactly where I am. English gardens are mysterious with their waterfalls and secret alleyways. Though you quickly end up where you began, for a few moments you have the wonderful illusion of being lost. Most of all, you don’t have to walk across vast open spaces where so many people look at you.”

“I was so on edge that, although I was not laughing, my face was contracted as if I were.”

“They were black, the way all birds are in the late afternoon.”

“As for my gaze, even though it was full of compassion, I felt it was not honest. As hard as I tried to open my eyes wide to see more clearly, it was hopeless.”

some quotes I loved from Bove’s stories

One Hundred Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth

One_Hundred_Poems_From_the_Japanese

[on pivot words] “The word matsu, for example, is often used in the sense of ‘pine’ and ‘long for’ exactly as in the English ‘pine’ and ‘pine.’ Naku is  used in the double sense of ‘cry’ and ‘without.'”

“Classical Japanese poetry is read in a slow drone, usually a low falsetto; that is, the voice is kept lower and more resonant than its normal pitch, with equal time and stress on each syllable.”

[on “Murasaki”] “Roughly it means ‘purple’ or purple-dyed.’ Actually it is the name of the Lithospermum erythromrhizon, a purple rooted plant of the borage or forget-me-not family. A related species is called ‘puccoon’ in the USA, and was once used as a rather fugitive dye.”

some interesting information from the intro to Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Japanese