Friday, November 12, 2010

Feathers, You Were Too Few

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Dahlia Ravikovitch

Some people know how to love,
for others it's just not right.
Some people kiss in the street,
others find it unpleasant
and not only in the street.
I think it's a talent like any other,
perhaps that's an advantage.
Like the rose of Sharon
with a gift for blooming,
like the hyacinth that chooses its colors.
A rose or a hyacinth in bloom
can blind you.
I mean no offense: of course
there are others.
Hummingbirds are the most beautiful of birds,
but if you like
you can go to the sparrow.
Even so, I keep telling myself,
I'm not a bird of paradise,
I'm not a three-legged ram,
I'm not an apple that never ripens.


—Dahlia Ravikovich

The everlasting forests won't last forever
if lightning strikes them.
Rumors reach us a long way off
about the earth's
The dream of the Yellow River no longer beguiles me
for there's nothing in it but water
and that goes down in the end to one of the seas.

The imagination has no bounds
but when you stop to think
how is the Black Sea different from the Caspian Sea?
A man of thirty is no child,
stops hoping for miracles, is not seduced
by the heart's noise.
He won't lose himself even when the sun goes down,
when the marvelous sea darkens and swallows its sharks.

But rumors keep returning, there's no way
to stop them.
They draw each other around the world
as the wind draws the waves.
First they bear you up like Ophelia
then they sweep you away into the depths
and all the dreams of your childhood, all your
won't pull you out again from the waters.


—Ruth Domino

Every morning, in the dust
I chased a sparrow with my broom.
In the four corners
I found four feathers.

Every night my sparrow flew,
every night
from my breast he plucked
four beads of sleep.

Chasing him, I never saw him,
nor in the night when he came flying,
when he plucked four beads of sleep.
He was so quick!

I tried to spin his feathers of the morning
to cover me at night.
Feathers, you were too few
and the broom was breaking.

Now in the four corners
I hear his feathers rustling,
his beak knocks
for four beads of sleep,

knocks at my breast all night
until the bone will break.


—Ingeborg Bachmann

These days I get up with the birches
and comb the wheat hair from my forehead
in frong of a mirror of ice.

Mixed with my breath
the milk flakes.
So early it frosts up.

And where I breathe on the pane appears
drawn by a childish finger
once more your name, innocence!
After so long.

These days it doesn't pain me
that I'm able to forget
and have to remember.

I'm in love. To white-heat
I love and give thanks with angelic greetings.
I learnt them in flight.

These days I think of the albatross
with whom I soared
up and over
to an undescribed country.

There on the horizon,
brilliant in its destruction,
I'm aware of my fabulous continent
that dismissed me
in a shroud.

I'm alive and from afar I hear its swansong.


—Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

I wanted this morning to bring you a gift of roses,
But I took so many in my wide belt
The tightened knots could not contain them all

And burst asunder. The roses taking wing
In the wind were all blown out to sea,
Following the water, never to return;

The waves were red with them as if aflame.
This evening my dress bears their perfume still:
You may take from it now their fragrant souvenir.


Today's LittleNip: 

I'll act out a weird dream
hobble like a broken bird
howl a name over and over like a hyena
flare an open wing like a fan to a half-eaten moon
choose a grain from the sands of your closed lips
and retrace my steps and always
come back in half shadows
damned by the wing I have left
I am the sign who names you.

—Marie-Françoise Prager



Today's poetry was translated by the following:

Ravicovich was translated from the Hebrew by Chana Bloch
Domino: tr. from the Italian by Daniel Hoffman and Jerre Mongione
Bachmann: tr. from the German by Daniel Haws
Debordes-Valmore: tr. from the French by Barbara Howes
Prager: tr. from the French by Willis Barnstone and Elene Kolb 

The Pacific from Hearst Castle
Photo by D.R. Wagner