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(In different languages...)

Akhmatova - W.H. AudenLi Bai - Bertold Brecht - Lord Byron - Raymond Carver - e.e.cummings - Luke Davies - Emily Dickinson - Alter Esselin - Peter Filkins - J.W. von Goethe - Byron Haskins - Heinrich Heine - Peter Holmes - Antigone Kefala -  A.S. Pushkin - Rainer Maria Rilke - William Shakespeare - Morten Søndergaard - M.I. Tsvetaeva  



My Hands Clasped (1911)

My hands clasped under a veil, dim and hazy…
"Why are you so pale and upset?"
That’s because I today made him crazy
With the sour wine of regret.

Can't forget! He got out, astound,
With his mouth distorted by pain...
I, not touching the railing, ran down,
I was running to him till the lane.

Fully choked, I cried, “That's a joke --
All that was. You get out, I'll die."
And he smiled very calmly, like stroke:
"It is windy right here -- pass by."

Anna Akhmatova
Yevgeny Bonver , ed. by Orit Bonver, 2000

In the Evening (1913)

 The garden's music ranged to me
 With dole that's beyond expression.
 The frozen oysters smelled with freshness
 And sharpness of the northern sea.

 He told me, "I'm the best of friends!",
 And gently touched my gown's laces.
 Oh, how differs from embraces
 The easy touching of these hands.

 Like that they pet a cat, a bird...
 Or watch the girls that run the horses....
 And just a quiet laughter poses
 Under his lashes' easy gold.

 And the distressing fiddles' voice
 Sings me from haze that's low flowed,
"Thank holly heaven and rejoice --
 You are first time with your beloved."

  Anna Akhmatova
Yevgeny Bonver , ed. by Orit Bonver, 2000

Along the Hard Crust (1917)

Along the hard crust of deep snows,
To the secret, white house of yours,
So gentle and quiet – we both
Are walking, in silence half-lost.
And sweeter than all songs, sung ever,
Are this dream, becoming the truth,
Entwined twigs’ a-nodding with favor,
The light ring of your silver spurs... 

Anna Akhmatova
Yevgeny Bonver , ed. by Tatiana Piotroff, 2002

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W.H. Auden

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden

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Li Bai

To Wang Lun

Li Po takes a boat and is about to depart
when suddenly he hears the sound of footsteps
                         and singing on the shore.
The water in the Peach Blossom pool is
                         a thousand feet deep
but not as deep as Wang Lun's parting love for me

Li Bai
transl..:Liu Wu-Chi

Alone Looking at the Mountain

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other -
Only the mountain and I.

Li Bai

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Lord Byron

She walks in beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly l;ightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!

Lord Byron


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Bertold Brecht

Erinnerung an die Marie A.

An jenem Tag im blauen Mond September
Still unter einem jungen Pflaumenbaum
Da hielt ich sie, die stille bleiche Liebe
In meinem Arm wie einen holden Traum.
Und über uns im schönen Sommerhimmel
War eine Wolke, die ich lange sah
Sie war sehr weiss und ungeheuer oben
Und als ich aufsah, war sie nimmer da.

Seit jenem Tag sind viele, viele Monde
Geschwommen still hinunter und vorbei.
Die Pflaumenbäume sind wohl abgehauen
Und fragst du mich, was mit der Liebe sei?
So sag ich dir: ich kann mich nicht erinnern
Und doch, gewiss, ich weiss schon, was du meinst.
Doch iht Gesicht, das weiss ich wirklich nimmer
Ich weiss nur meht: ich küsste es dereinst.

Und auch den Kuss, ich hätt ihn längst vergessen
Wenn nicht die Wolke dagewesen wär
Die weiss ich noch und werd ich immer wissen
Sie war sehr weiss und kam von oben her.
Die Pflaumenbäume blühn vielleicht noch immer
Und jene Frau hat jetzt vielleicht das siebte Kind
Doch jene Wolke blühte nur Minuten
Und als ich aufsah, schwand sie schon im Wind.

Bertold Brecht



Raymond Carver


So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

Raymond Carver


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What'll you do when you get lonely
And nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long.
You know it's just your foolish pride.

Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.


Let's make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way
And tell me all my love's in vain.

Eric Clapton

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e.e. cummings


in making Marjorie god hurried
a boy's body on unsuspicious
legs of girl. his left hand quarried
the quartzlike face. his right slapped
the amusing big vital vicious
vegetable of her mouth.
Upon the whole he suddenly clapped
a tiny sunset of vermouth
-colour.   Hair. he put between
her lips a moist mistake, whose fragrance hurls
me into tears, as the dusty new-
ness of her obsolete gaze begins to.   lean....
a little against me,when for two
dollars i fill her hips with boys and girls

e.e. cummings


i like my body when it is with your
body.   It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body.   i like what it does,
i like its hows.   i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss,   i like kissing this and that of you,
i like,slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh....And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

e.e. cummings


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Luke Davies



The air is a-twitter.
The sun shines through birch
Illuminating everywhere
Flight-paths of the fruit-search.

And all the birds express
In heady soliloquy
Aromas of the mind
Endlessly, obsessively.

Oh to lie upon her.
– And no one can recall
A time it wasn’t summer –
Her nakedness is all.

Luke Davies
From: Totem, Allen and Unwin, Sydney 2004



And the sun is everywhere
And the air is filled with pollen
And all the bees weighed down with light
Are golden where the leaves have fallen.

The sidewalk soft with petals.
The air is wet with blossom;
It was frankly hard to comprehend
How all your youth and grace, so lissome,

So supple, could gather in the one body.
The light comes through your hair
As if your hair were light and nothing but:
You shake it to set fire to the air.

Luke Davies
From: Totem, Allen and Unwin, Sydney 2004

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Emily Dickinson


He was weak, and I was strong - then -
So He let me lead him in -
I was weak, and He was strong then -
So I let him lead me - Home.

'T wasn't far - the door was near -
'T wasn't dark - for He went - too -
'T wasn't loud, for He said nought -
That was all I cared to know.

Day knocked - and we must part -
Neither - was strongest - now -
He strove - and I strove - too -
We didn't do it - tho'!
 Emily Dickinson


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Paul Éluard

Vers Minuit

Des portes s'ouvrent des fenêtres se dévoilent
Un feu silencieux s'allume et m'éblouit
Tout se décide je rencontre
Des crëatures que je n'ai pas voulues

Voici l'idiot qui recevait des lettres de l'étranger
Voici l'anneau précieux qu'il croyait en argent
voici la femme bavarde aux cheveux blancs
Voici la fille immatérielle
Incomplète et laide baignée de nuit et de misère
Fardée de mauves et de pervenches absurdes
Sa nudité sa chasteté sensibles de partout
Voici la mer et des bateaux sur des tables de jeu
Un homme libre un autre homme libre et c'est le même
Des animaux enragés devant la peur masquée de boue
Des morts des prisonniers des fous tous les absents

Mais toi pourquoi n'est-tu pas là pour m'éveiller.

Paul Éluard



Alter Esselin


Women, beautiful and ripe,
Weighed down by the burden of love,
Every fiber quivering with exotic longings,
With your eyes painting dreams and prayers
For yourselves and haughty fools--
Secretly pairing with penniless poets
In dim alleys astray from the boulevards
With full passion and piety you spoke
In metaphor and jest--
But being possessed the heart will burst in your breast,
Oh women, all burdens are heavy
But that of love is heaviest.
When teeth are sharper than reason,
And blood is truer than chastity.
With what honeyed splendor and fanfare
Is played for you that first time
The colorful song of bold seducer.
And afterwards, late, the comforting pity of God,
The shield against further temptation
Till the hair grays
And the last flute-note of autumn plays...

Alter Esselin, transl. Joseph Esselin


Even The Last Flower Withers

To Becky (1922)

Under wet, heavy copper weep the trees,
In a delicate swoon bends the grass,
The rain has drenched the heart of the earth.
It is autumn, and I remind you, beloved,
That I hold the glowing light of my spirit
Ready for you, beautiful, dear one.

My light is fading.
Dust am I without you.
I wither in the darkness.
I am autumn sick.
Lighter of stars, bring me your healing potion--
I die of longing.

Leaden sky, fall on my head.
Why does one need a heart?

Alter Esselin, transl. Joseph Esselin


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Peter Filkins

Blind Love


When Hitler married Eva Braun
just days before committing suicide,
the war now lost, the Allies advancing,
all of Berlin reduced to rubble,
was it blind love that drove him on
to marry Eva while defying his generals
who wanted nothing more than to surrender
ten-year-old boys still left to defend
Blut, Boden and Reich for their Führer
trapped in a bunker, no way out
but to marry the woman who loved him
and sought the blessing of God her maker?


In Otto Weidt’s workshop for the blind
one can still see the machines they used
for brooms and brushes wound in the dark
insidious days before the deportations,
Weidt’s own secretary, Alice Licht,
landing in Auschwitz, where, because
of his love, he made them an offer
on brooms and brushes in order to find
Alice alive and in a neighboring camp,
though he didn’t see her but only heard
she’d received the packages he’d sent
without knowing if he’d ever see her again.


Could it be true Frau Goebbels played
a game of solitaire after having killed
all five of her children as they slept,
cyanide preferable to what she imagined
the Russians would do once they arrived,
the children depending on her to help
soothe them asleep as the bombing continued
to pummel the air above the game
that she laid out, snapping crisply
each card on the table she had just used
to mix the doses the children drank
gladly before bedtime, could it, could it?


“If only things could remain the same,”
Alice wrote to Otto on a card
thrown desperately from a passing train
and mailed anonymously by someone
who read, “Whoever finds this drop it
in a mailbox,” or “no trace of Ulkus,”
or “greetings Pappi!... heading to Birkenau”
and knew, despite the fact that Alice
would survive, come back to Berlin and leave
for America, where she would then marry,
ignoring Otto’s dying plea for her to return,
this was a message of hope for the future. 


And so each night the prisoners played
scales and arpeggios, a Dvořák quartet,
secretly in the hold of the pathology lab
where by day the bodies were dissected
in search of abnormalities, the delicate
instruments filling the room with music
played from a score laid out on the table,
for all they knew this being their last
performance together while sawing away
at the hopeless, shattering grief contained
in the second movement of Schubert’s Eighth,
haunting and beautiful, and unfinished forever..

Peter Filkins


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Nähe des Geliebten

Ich denke dein, wenn mir der Sonne Schimmer
   Vom Meere strahlt;
Ich denke dein, wenn sich des Mondes Flimmer
   In Quellen malt.

Ich sehe dich, wenn auf dem fernen Wege
   Der Staub sich hebt;
In tiefer Nacht, wenn auf dem schmalen Stege
   Der Wandrer bebt.

Ich höre dich, wenn dort mit dumpfem Rauschen
   Die Welle steigt.
Im stillen Haine geh ich oft zu lauschen,
   Wenn alles schweigt.

Ich bin bei dir, du seist auch noch so ferne,
   Du bist mir nah!
Die Sonne sinkt, bald leuchten mir die Sterne,
   O wärst du da!

J.W. von Goethe


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Senseless Love

I send the love of a blind man,
unable to cross my eyes
upon your lovely nose.

I send the love of a deaf man
who never hears
the air escape from your lips
or read them mouth glorious words adored.

I send the love of a man
whose fingertips are robbed of the touch
of soft and warmth.

I send the love of a man who
never inhaled or tasted the richness of a dish;
I love through the air like wireless,
like letters leaving darkness on the left
of vision onto the light of the center page.
I send the other-sight saved only for gods and angels.

All this loss to my senses, I send fire love,
earth love, wind love, tearful love;
splashing and flying; crashing and smashing,
gliding and landing muddy but
lightly love...the love of a loon, a bat, a wolf
calling for the moon; of a swan, a owl,
a guinea fowl, of a dove;
a peaceful cross-legged hermit sitting on a hill love,
having had the world;
and his fill of love.
Still, love it is.
And it is sent to you.

Byron Haskins

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Heinrich Heine

Das Hohelied

Des Weibes Leib ist ein Gedicht,
Das Gott der Herr geschrieben
Ins grosse Stammbuch der Natur,
Als ihn der Geist getrieben.

Ja, günstig war die Stunde ihm,
Der Gott war hochbegeistert;
Er hat den spröden, rebellischen Stoff
Ganz kunstlerisch bemeistert.

Fürwahr, der Leib des Weibes ist
Das Hohelied der Lieder;
Gar wunderbare Strophen sind
Die schlanken, weissen Glieder.

O welche göttliche Idee
Ist dieser Hals, der blanke,
Worauf sich wiegt der kleine Kopf,
Der lockige Hauptgedanke!

Der Brüstchen Rosenknospen sind
Epigrammatisch gefeilet;
Unsäglich entzückend ist die Cäsur,
Die streng den Busen teilet.

Den plastischen Schöpfer offenbart
Der Hüften Parallele;
Der Zwischensatz mit dem Feigenblatt
Ist auch eine schöne Stelle.

Das ist kein abstraktes Begriffspoem!
Das Lied hat Fleisch und Rippen.
Hat Hand und Fuss; es lacht und küsst
Mit schöngereimten Lippen.

Hier atmet wahre Poesie!
Anmut in jeder Wendung!
Und auf der Stirne trägt das Lied
Den Stempel der Vollendung.

Lobsingen will ich dir, o Herr,
Und dich im Staub anbeten!
Wir sind nur Stümper gegen dich,
Den himmlischen Poeten.

Versenken will ich mich, o Herr,
In deines Liedes Prächten;
Ich widme seinem Studium
Den Tag mitsamt den Nächten.

Ja, Tag und Nacht studier ich dran,
Will keine Zeit verlieren;
Die Beine werden mir so dünn -
Das kommt vom vielen Studieren.

Heinrich Heine


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Peter Holmes

The Senses of Love (Revealings)

To see you
reveals the eternal beauty that is love.

To touch you
reveals the softness, the tenderness that is love.

To smell you
reveals the sweet enticeing aroma that is love

To hear your voice
reveals the captivating and delicate music that is love.

To kiss your lips
reveals the desire and passion that is love.

But, without you,
the heart that is love reveals only lonliness, only sadness and despair.
          You Are Love

Peter Holmes


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Antigone Kefala



I long to find you
in the uncertain silence
of my evenings
when darkness comes
and when the streets
are desolately empty
when nothing speaks
only my need of you.

Antigone Kefala
From: Absence: New and Selected Poems, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney 1998


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A.S. Pushkin

I loved you once…

I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet
To die down thoroughly within my soul;
But let it not dismay you any longer;
I have no wish to cause you any sorrow.
I loved you wordlessly, without a hope,
By shyness tortured, or by jealousy.
I loved you with such tenderness and candor
And pray God grants you to be loved that way again.

A.S. Pushkin (1799-1837)


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Rainer Maria Rilke


An der sonngewohnten Strasse, in dem
hohlen halben Baumstamm, der seit lange
Trog ward, eine Oberfläche Wasser
in sich leis erneuernd, still'ich meinen
Durst: des Wassers Heiterkeit und Herkunft
in mich nehmend durch die Handgelenke.
Trinken schiene mir zu viel, zu deutlich;
aber diese wartende Gebärde
holt mir helles Wasser ins Bewusstsein.

Also, kämst du, braucht ich, mich zu stillen,
nur ein leichtes Anruhn meiner Hände,
sei's an deiner Schuilter junge Rundung,
sei es an den Andrang deiner Brüste.

Rainer Maria Rilke


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William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare


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Morten Søndergaard

The lovers

I awake in a land where the lovers have seized power. They have introduced laws decreeing that no one will ever again have to look away, and that orgasms need never come to an end. Roses function as currency, the insane are worshipped as gods, and the gods are considered insane. The postal service has been reinstated and the words ‘you’ and ‘I’ are now synonymous. After the revolution it was decided that broken-hearted lovers should be eliminated for the safety of those happy in love. When they track me down I immediately surrender. The executioner is a woman and it is quickly done. It is winter and I have not met you yet.

Morten Søndergaard
From: At holde havet tilbage med en kost, publisher: Borgens Forlag, Kopenhagen, 2004
Translation: Barbara Haveland and John Irons

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M.I. Tsvetaeva

You who loved me with the falseness… (1923)

You who loved me with the falseness
Of truth - and the truth of lies.
You who loved me-beyond
Anything!-Over the edge!
You who loved me beyond
Time-Right hand, wave!
You love me no more:
The truth in five words.

M.I. Tsvetaeva (1892-1939)


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