With Both Light And Death (excerpt)

What do you want what do you seek
where is the meaning that fell from your hands
The music you alone hear and the naked
Feet which shift earth like a dancer’s
While the comet of her hair tosses and a spark
Falls before you on the carpet
Where you watch the truth deceive you. 

Where are you going what sorrow what burning
Dress is this that detaches your flesh what
Transformed ancient spring to make you give oracles
Thus: leaf by leaf and pebble by pebble

Youth kneeling in the transparent deep
The more I sleep and dream the more I see you rise
With a basket of green shells and seaweed
Biting as if a coin the same sea that
Gave you the very shining the very light the meaning you seek. 
—Odysseus Elytis, from “With Both Light And Death.” The American Poetry Review, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1987). Translated from Greek by Jeffrey Carson.

I slip silently into houses; I am present at events that cannot be seen. I sit by the bed upon which lovers make their love; I walk into a room where a man has taken refuge to hide his grief-stricken face. Then I have another privilege, that of gathering separate elements into one single spectacle. Here is a crowd, a crowd in which each individual is lost in the mass; yet my eyes embrace the whole. I pass through walls, I hover in the sky; I am endowed with supernatural powers.

—Simone de Beauvoir (on the effects of the cinema), from All Said and Done. New York: Penguin Books, 1972. Translated by Patrick O’Brian.

Sleeping Friend

Sleeping Friend.png

—Cesare Pavese, “Sleeping Friend.” New England Review (1990-), Vol. 21, No. 3 (2000). Translated from Italian by Geoffrey Brock. 

“We’ll hear each moment drip into darkness
beyond all things, in the anguish of dawn,
whose sudden appearance etches things into
dead silence.”

In Praise of Limestone (excerpt)

…”Come!” cried the granite wastes,
“How evasive is your humor, how accidental
Your kindest kiss, how permanent is death.” (Saints-to-be
Slipped away sighing.) “Come!” purred the clays and the gravels,
“On our plains there is room for armies to drill; rivers
Wait to be tamed and slaves to construct you a tomb
In the grand manner: soft as the earth is mankind and both
Need to be altered.” (Intendant Caesars rose and
Left, slamming the door.) But the really reckless were fetched
By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:
“I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;
That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;
There is only the various envies, all of them sad.”

They were right, my dear, all those voices were right
And still are; this land is not the sweet home that it looks,

—W.H Auden, “In Praise of Limestone,” (1948). Oxford University Press, New York: 2001.

Death Will Come and Look at Me with Your Eyes

Death will come and look at me with your
the death that follows us around
from morning to night, insomniac, deaf,
like some stale, now irreparable guilt
or ridiculous habit. Your eyes
will be empty words,
a suppressed cry, a silence—
the way you see them each morning
when you lean toward yourself alone
in the mirror.
And we, the silenced, go down into the abyss.

—Cesare Pavese, “Death Will Come and Look at Me with Your Eyes.” The American Poetry Review, Vol. 26, No. 5, 1997. Translated from Italian by Alan Williamson.

New Heart

Or shall I spread you over the pines
— suffering book of my love —
so you can learn about song
the nightingale offers the dawn?

—Federico García Lorca, “New Heart,” Selected Verse (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1996)

Absent Soul (Excerpt)

No one knows you. No. But I sing to you.
I sing for the future your profile and your grace.
The ripe gleam of your wisdom.
Your appetite for death and the taste of its mouth.
The sadness borne in your valiant joy.

—Federico García Lorca, “Lament for the Death of Ignacio Sánchez Mejías.” The Literary Review, no. 2, 2013. Translated from Spanish by Pablo Medina.