Nikola Madzirov was born in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia in a family of Balkan Wars refugees. His first collection of poetry, »Zaklučeni vo gradot« (tr: Locked in the City), won the »Studentski zbor« prize for best début. In the same year he published his second book, »Nekade nikade« (tr: Somewhere Nowhere), also a poetry collection, which won the Aco-Karamanov prize. The anthology »Vo gradot, nekade« (tr: In the City, Somewhere) followed in 2004, and in 2007 he published his last poetry collection to date, »Premesten kamen« (tr: Relocated Stone), for which he was awarded the prestigious Miladinov-Brothers Prize and the Hubert-Burda Prize for Literature.
Madzirov was poetry editor of the Macedonian e-magazine »Blesok« and is the Macedonian co-ordinator of the international network Lyrikline. He lives in Macedonia and works as a poet, essayist and literary translator.
The Shadow of the World Passes Over My Heart
(translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid)
I haven’t the courage of a relocated stone.
You’ll find me stretched on a damp bench
beyond all army camps and arenas.
I’m empty as a plastic bag
filled with air.
With hands parted and fingers joined
I indicate a roof.
My absence is a consequence
of all recounted histories and deliberate longings.
I have a heart pierced by a rib.
Fragments of glass float through my blood
and clouds hidden behind white cells.
The ring on my hand has no shadow of its own
and is reminiscent of the sun. I haven’t the courage
of a relocated star.
Before We Were Born
(translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid)
The streets were asphalted
before we were born and all
the constellations were already formed.
The leaves were rotting
on the edge of the pavement,
the silver was tarnishing
on the workers’ skin,
someone’s bones were growing through
the length of the sleep.
Europe was uniting
before we were born and
a woman’s hair was spreading
calmly over the surface
of the sea.
(translated by Magdalena Horvat and Adam Reed)
I separated myself from each truth about the beginnings
of rivers, trees, and cities.
I have a name that will be a street of goodbyes
and a heart that appears on X-ray films.
I separated myself even from you, mother of all skies
and carefree houses.
Now my blood is a refugee that belongs
to several souls and open wounds.
My god lives in the phosphorous of a match,
in the ashes holding the shape of the firewood.
I don’t need a map of the world when I fall asleep.
Now the shadow of a stalk of wheat covers my hope,
and my word is as valuable
as an old family watch that doesn’t keep time.
I separated from myself, to arrive at your skin
smelling of honey and wind, at your name
signifying restlessness that calms me down,
opening the doors to the cities in which I sleep,
but don’t live.
I separated myself from the air, the water, the fire.
The earth I was made from
is built into my home.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS
Peggy Reid, M.A. (Cantab), Doctor honoris causa, Skopje, M.B.E., born Bath, U.K., 1939, taught English at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, Macedonia, for twenty years between 1969 and 2006. Translator/co-translator from Macedonian of novels, poetry, plays and works of nonfiction. Lives in Edinburgh, U.K.
Graham W. Reid, M.A., M.B.E. born Edinburgh, 1938. Read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. Taught English for twenty-five years at Ss. Cyril & Methodius University, Skopje, Macedonia. Widely translated both poetry and prose from Macedonian into English. M.A. thesis at Bradford University on Reflections of Rural-Urban Migration in Contemporary Macedonian Poetry. Currently lives in Edinburgh, U.K.
Magdalena Horvat (born 1978, Skopje, Macedonia) is the author of two poetry collections: This is it, your (2006) and Bluish and other poems (2010). Among the books she has translated into Macedonian are Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Fiona Sampson’s The Distance Between Us. She currently lives in Athens, Georgia.
Adam Reed (born 1978, Athens, Georgia) has co-translated/edited several poetry collections, anthologies and works of nonfiction from Macedonian into English. He taught English, Writing and History courses at University American College Skopje, Macedonia, for several years. He currently lives in Athens, Georgia.
Susan Hawthorne is the author of six collections of poetry, the latest of which is Cow (2011). Cow was written during a 2009 Asialink Literature Residency based at the University of Madras and funded by the Australia Council and Arts Queensland. Her previous book, Earth’s Breath (2009) was shortlisted for the 2010 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. A chapbook of poems about war, Valence, will be published in late 2011. She is Adjunct Professor in the Writing Program at James Cook University, Townsville. She has been studying Sanskrit at La Trobe University and ANU for five years.
Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta (Cloud Messenger) from approximately the 4th century CE is a poem of 111 stanzas. This poem is based on reading the first 20 stanzas of the poem in Sanskrit. Meghadūta is one of several lyric poems by Kālidāsa who wrote three plays as well as epic poems. He is one of the most important poets writing in Classical Sanskrit. Translating for Sanskrit provides many challenges, and in this version I take poetic licence in order to make the poem work in English. The Sanskrit metre in which it is written is mandākrānta, a slow elegiac metre.
Twenty stanzas of Meghadūta
a whole year passed and the Yakṣa pined
though he lived in pleasant surrounds
among Rāmagiri’s shady trees
and the holy waters of Sītā
yet still he ached
only himself to blame for Kubera’s curse
his mind bent by longing for her
love bangle slipped from his famished arm
with bittersweet pangs of love
he hungered on that lonely mountain top
on a windy day portending monsoon
he saw an elephant cloud rutting the cliff face
his yearning peaked as he stood
before this phantasm of elephant
dry-eyed tears welling inside
even the cheerful mind is ruffled
by the sight of a rough-skinned cloud
he wished his arms a necklace
as the month of Śrāvaṇa approached
the month of listening he prepared
to send news through the cloud ear
he made an offering of fresh kuṭaja flowers
spoke aloud his words filled with love
sustenance for his beloved
his mind bent by yearning
he clutches at cloud elements
vapour light water wind
mistakes cloud breath for vital breath
poor lovelorn Yakṣa can’t sense
the mirror from its reflection
Yakṣa speaks to the cloud saying
I know you are born into the world-wandering
shapeshifting clan related to thunder-bearing
Indra I call on you to help me most lofty one
my kin are far away and destiny tells me
to make a humble request though it be futile
rain-giver you are a refuge in sticky heat
Kubera has parted me from my beloved
and I beg that you travel to her in Alakā
with my message where you’ll find a palace
bathed in the light of a crescent moon on the head
of Śiva standing in the outer garden
ascend the path of the wind sky-fly
so the wives need no longer sigh
at their unravelled hair imploring
their well-travelled husbands to return
whereas I in thrall to Kubera
have neglected my beloved
without obstruction follow the jet stream
how you float unlike my beloved
her heart like a wilted flower
she needs the thread of hope
to buoy up her spirits in fruitless
counting of days and nights
as the wind drives you slowly slowly
the cātaka bird sings sweetly sweetly
skeins of cranes are in flight
cloud seeded they fly in formation
like a garland aloft pleasing to
the sky-turned eye
your sky companions the gander kings
have heard your thundering gait
they long for Lake Mānasa so high
they watch for mushrooming earth
and carry food strips of lotus root
as you fly together to Mount Kailāsa
lofty mountain embraced by cloud
rain tears and farewells marked
by Rāmagiri’s receding footprints
steaming tears stream down
the mountain’s face a knot
of loss born of long separation
oh cloud listen to me
let your ears be drunk
on sound listen follow
the path laid down
drink from bubbling streams
rest when exhausted
beneath you bewildered
women watch the crowd
of elephant clouds a shiver
of north wind carries off
the mountain tusk
beware the quarter elephants
face-to-face a sliver of Indra’s
bow rises from the anthill
a kaleidoscope of colours
in crystalline refraction
your indigo body glittering
like a glamour of peacocks
fruits of harvest grown
on moisture from you
fertile as the wombs
of women sweet sacred
smell of turned earth
climb the brow to the cloud-road
ride the spine of Āmrakūṭa
the ground awash with
your downpour extinguishing
wildfire such kindness is
returned providing refuge
for high flying friends
cloud braid lies along Āmrakūṭa’s
spine fringed with mango orbs
the mountain a curve of breast
its dark nipple in the middle
a coupling of gods looks
at the pale vastness of earth
the young wives of forest nomads
frolic in thick mountain arbours
you sprint the rim of mountain
streams riven by strewn boulders
like the cross-hatched pattern
decorating the body of an elephant
you whose rain is shed drink
the must-infused water of wild
jambū trees obstruct your way
the wind cannot lift a solid mass
a void is light fullness is gravity
Pablo de Rokha (1894-1968) was born as Pablo Díaz Loyola. Despite his profound influence upon subsequent generations of Latin American poets, he failed to achieve the international fame of his contemporary, Pablo Neruda (with whom he quarrelled fiercely and publicly). In 1965 he was awarded Chile’s National Literature Prize, deemed by many at the time to be long overdue. He committed suicide at the age of 73.
He made man, he made him in his IMAGE and semblance, and he’s enormously sad and an immense man, an immense man, the continuation of all men, all men, all the MOST manly men, the continuation of all men towards the infinite, a dream, all a dream or a TRIANGLE that dissolves in bright stars.
How much pain, how much pain did the earth need to create you, God, to create you!.. how much pain! Gesture of the world’s anguish, of matter’s sickness and an enormous, enormous mania of enormities!
God, that great human caricature, God, full of empty skies, sad consciences, sad consciences and GREAT anguish, his neutered cadaver’s voice brings together and sums up, FOR man, in his common and disconcerting attitude, the moaning of every object and, in addition, the other, the distant, the other, the other, like the words of a naive child, a naive child, a naive child; bad God, good God, wise God, stubborn God, God with passions and gestures, virtues and vices, concubines or ILLEGITIMATE sons, with an office like a pharmacist’s, like any hairdresser’s.
The earth sculpted the earth’s ingenuous fruits for him, only for him, the earth’s ingenuous fruits, and man denied the enormous world, denied the world; who was, who was ever, who was more loved than him?… he, he was the most loved but never was anything, anyone, he never was, never, never was, never, never, never was!..
Tragedy of God, God, God, the major disgrace of history, the lie, the PHENOMENAL blow to the rights of life, God.
God answered smiling answered God, God answered the most tremendous, the most obscure, the most disastrous questions and the great question; BUT the most tremendous, the most obscure, the most disastrous questions and the great question still, still haven’t been, haven’t been, haven’t been answered yet, still haven’t been answered; God squashed the earth, oh! sacred hippopotamus, God squashed the earth with filthy feet, and the footprints survive until today, survive on the roads and in the tragic belly of the worlds.
He blackened, he blackened, he blackened LIFE with the black paint of dreams and urinated the dignity of man.
“God, God, God, do you exist?… God! God! God!..”, howl the towns and the old women, the old women and the towns across the theological plains… shut up! idiots, shut up! shut up!… God IS YOU.
Great absurd wing, God extends himself over THE VOID…
The Pale Conquistadors
Epic characters, epic, executive or emphatic characters, emphatic, emphatic, and souls of bronze, steel, rock, wretched bones, wiry muscles, men of concise, energetic, simple, authentic, authoritative, exact language, and RED actions, RED burning a priori, hermit-swordsmen, swordsmen-hermits, adventurers who are transformed by hunger and the thirst for GOLD, glory, dashing exploits – glory! glory! – transformed from frauds into heroes, from frauds into heroes, the power of having a soul boiling, the power of having a soul boiling, the power of having a soul boiling at SEVENTY ONE degrees in the shade.
Dim, illiterate, ignorant, ignorant soldiers, you predated the immense, contemporary urban estates and you were THE FIRST settlers of the dull brown, dull brown earth, dull brown, humble, agricultural, BLUSHING like a woman who is discovered naked; free to draw your daggers, you pursued two destinies: to be hung at the gallows or crowned with laurels.
And you’re called Pedro de Valdivia, Hernán Cortés or Francisco Pizarro, Napoleon, you’re all the same: brave, drunken swine, demented or crazy geniuses, contradictory, bilious – that is, IRRESPONSIBLE instruments of cosmic DYNAMISM and LIFE’S nocturnal forces; CONQUISTADORS, I salute you because you were a lot of dreaming-poet-leaders crossing the horizon’s SEVEN HUNDRED hardships with your absurd, painted-on, metaphorical costumes and resonant, fantastical attitudes, full to the brim with illusions, ambitions, heroic, enormous emotions, eyes full of landscapes, sleeping in the shadow of a great, distant dream as BIG as THE SKIES, and not ten cents, not ten cents in your pockets!..
Stuart Cooke’s chapbook, Corrosions, was published by Vagabond Press in 2010, and his translation of Juan Garrido-Salgado’s Eleven Poems, September 1973 was published by Picaro Press in 2007. His first full-length collection, Edge Music, is forthcoming in 2011.
Lars Gustafsson (born May 17, 1936) is a Swedish, poet, novelist and scholar. He was born in Västerås, completed his secondary education at the Västerås gymnasium and continued to Uppsala University; he received his Licentiate degree in 1960 and was awarded his Ph.D. in Theoretical Philosophy in 1978. He lived in Austin, Texas until 2003, and has recently returned to Sweden. He served as a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where he taught Philosophy and Creative Writing, until May 2006, when he retired. Gustafsson is one of the most prolific Swedish writers since August Strindberg. Since the late 1950s he has produced a voluminous flow of poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He is also an example of a Swedish writer who has gained international recognition with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others.
Nyårskantat år 2007
In med tenorerna i höga lägen, pukslag!
Snabb övergång från ess-moll till C-dur!
Champagnekorkarna som lättar
är som änderna som flyger upp ur vassen
skrämda utav kyrkklockor och ångbåtsvisslor
Jag har aldrig förstått varför man firar nyår
Mig skrämmer de rejält
på samma sätt som morgnar skrämmer
med sitt kalla ljus. De vill för mycket.
Varje år som vi har upplevt
var en gång ett nyår.
Vad är skillnaden emellan framtid
och förfluten tid? Ingen vet.
Vad väntar oss strax bakom hörnet?
Krig, pest och annat fanskap? Eller Eden?
Ej kan vanans nötta läxa
Evigt repas upp igen
skrev en aktad kollega,
herr Tegnér, år 1813.
Jaså kan den inte det?
Hur kan man vara så säker på det?
Vissa dagar kan man undra.
Får man skriva så i en kantat?
Det är nog fel. Kantaten är beställd.
Beställaren är optimist.
Vi antar det i alla fall.
Hans yrke kräver det.
In med tenorerna
i höga lägen, pukslag,
snabb övergång till C-dur!
Vet: denna match är inte avgjord än.
Minuter och sekunder!
Visst finns här plats för någon överraskning.
Visst gör det så!
Sensationsmål i sista sekunden!
Ett sådant där som ändrar hela läget!
Och i det mellanrummet,
i en hårfin spricka mellan tid och tid
där allt är möjligt, önskar jag er lycka till.
Mellan ”inte än” och ”strax”
hörs nu tydligt ljudet av
en kork som lycklig lämnar flaskan.
New Year’s Canto year 2007
In with the tenors’ high notes, kettle-drumbeats!
Quick transition from E flat minor to C major!
The champagne corks taking flight are the wild ducks dashing out of the reeds
frightened by church bells and steam-boat whistles
I have never understood why they celebrate new years They scare me soundly
in the same way that mornings scare with their cold light. They want too much.
Every year we have known was once a new year.
What is the difference between future
and past time? No one knows.
What awaits us around the corner?
War, pestilence and other damned nuisance? Or Eden?
The worn lesson of habit cannot
Eternally be unravelled
wrote an esteemed colleague,
Mr Tegnér, in 1813.
Oh, can it not?
How can we be so sure?
Some days make you wonder.
Can you really write that in a canto?
It is probably wrong. The canto is commissioned.
The commissioner is an optimist.
We assume so at least.
His profession demands it.
In with the tenors’ high notes, kettle-drumbeats,
quick transition to C major!
Know this: this match is not yet decided.
The final whistle is delayed.
Minutes and seconds!
Of course there is room for some surprise.
Of course there is!
A last-minute sensational goal!
One of those that change everything!
And in that interspace
in the thin rift between time and time
where everything is possible, I wish you good luck.
Between “not yet” and “soon”
the clear sound can now be heard of
a cork happily leaving the bottle.
är mörka fästningar
som byggdes av furstar
i en längesedan bortglömd tid.
De ligger tätt intill varandra
och kastar långa skuggor,
landet omkring dem är en platt
och svårförsvarad våtmark.
De är byggda av en stenart
som ingen tid kan söndervittra
och alla de andra är byar
som hukar runtomkring dem.
Sedan blir de allt sällsyntare:
man måste rida länge över stora slätter
för att se ännu en vid horisonten.
Sanningen är att de blir allt färre
på sin väg emot de ofattbara djupen
Och doktor Riemanns skugga står
onaturligt hög och varnande
i en oändlig solnedgång
The Prime Numbers
The first are dark fortresses
built by princes
in a long-forgotten time.
They lie close together and throw long shadows,
the land around them is flat
and hard-to-defend wetlands.
They are built from a variety of stone
that no time can crumble away
and all the others are villages
crouching around them.
Then they become more rare:
you have to ride across vast plains
to see yet another on the horizon.
Truth is, they grow far fewer
on their way toward the unfathomable depths
And doctor Riemann’s shadow stands
unnaturally tall and cautionary
in an infinite sunset
Sjöar utan öar
har inte mycket att säga.
De ligger där på sin plats.
detta Mellansveriges bleka emaljöga
skulle då kunna tjäna som exempel.
Exempel på vad?
På sig själv, naturligtvis.
Sverige, somrarnas ljumma regnland
med tydlig doft av allt som
murknar, ruttnar, flagnar
De gamla ensamma husen i skogen
sjunker långsamt in i sig själva
och ett mossigt äppelträd
försöker berätta, men
kommer sig inte riktigt för
att komma ut med sanningen.
Berätta om vad?
Sanningen, som är alltför förskräcklig.
I somrarnas milda regnland
blir det inte så mycket över att säga.
Och sedan mörkret,
en våt och ljummen mur.
Vi signalerar över sjön
med våra alltför svaga lampor.
”Och sedan mörkret”
Logonauten lyssnade uppmärksamt.
Och kommenterade sedan
på sitt stillsamma sätt:
”Den som har stora mörka rum
inom sig, mörka som potatiskällare,
mörka som rummet mellan galaxerna,
känner sällan mörkrädsla.”
Lakes without islands
do not have much to say.
They lie in their place.
this the pale glass eye of middle Sweden
could thus be an example.
An example of what?
Of itself, of course.
Sweden, the land of warm summer rain
with a palpable scent of everything that
decays, rots, peals
The old lonely houses in the forest
slowly sink into themselves
and a mossy apple tree
tries to tell, but
cannot really bring itself
to tell the truth.
To tell what?
The truth, which is too terrible.
In the land of warm summer rain
there is not much left to say.
Lake Hörende turned inside itself. And then the darkness,
a wet and warm wall.
We signal over the lake
with our too-weak lamps.
“And then the darkness”
The logonaut listened carefully.
And then commented
in his quiet way: “He who has large dark rooms
inside himself, dark as potato cellars,
dark as the room between the galaxies,
is seldom afraid of the dark.”
En försommardag vid Björn Nilssons grav
Väster Våla kyrkogård i försommarljuset
och med den vänliga sydvästvind över
Bruslings ängar som måste ha rått
den milda förmiddag på sextiotalet
när vi uppfann Monstret i Bo Gryta.
Monstret var en jättemal, och vi behövde den
för att ha något att skriva om i Expressen.
(Det var en av dessa förargliga veckor
när inget vill hända,
världshistorien tvekar eller grubblar
på hur nästa verkligt taskiga överraskning
skall se ut och ingen stjärna hade brutit benet.)
Bo Gryta är ett djuphål i Åmänningen.
Man hittar det någon kilometer utanför
Bodarnes och Vretarnas byar, på en linje
mellan den gamla Bodahamnen, där vraket
efter en i åskby kantrad och sjunken malmjakt
skall ligga men ingen vet var, och Tandläkarudden.
Hur djupt detta djuphål är? Ingen vet.
Mången har försökt med lod och lina.
Och när linan kom upp, avbiten
lika elegant som av en rakkniv
eller kättingen de prövade i stället
lika blank och prydlig i snittet
efter vad som väl bara kunde vara
mycket stora tänder, gav man
upp försöken. Christopher Middleton
beskrev dem i sin dikt ”The Mole”.
Det blev förvisso verkningsfullt,
för ett par somrar senare kom en busslast
av engelsmän, excentriker och experter
på djupa sjöars monster. De lodade
och antecknade. Per Brusling bjöd på kaffe,
nu en äldre man som vet en del om sjön.
Över Björn Nilssons grav går sommarvinden.
Och jag fruktar att jag är den ende nu som vet
hur det egentligen gick till.
djupt övertygad att denna jättemal,
inte bara jättelik och illasinnad,
också är slug, mycket slug
och vet att gömma sig i dunkla djup
närhelst det kommer någon dit
som söker den.
An early Summer’s Day by Björn Nilsson’s Grave
Väster Våla graveyard in the early summer light
and with the kind south-westerly over
Bruslings meadows that must have blown
on this mild morning in the sixties
when we invented the Monster of Bo Gryta.
The Monster was a giant catfish and we needed it
to have something to write about in Expressen.
(It was one of those annoying weeks
where nothing happens,
world history hesitates or deliberates
over what the next really crude surprise
will be and no star had broken a leg.)
Bo Gryta is a deep hole in Åmänningen.
You will find it about a kilometer outside
the villages of Bodarne and Vretarna, on a line
between the old Boda harbour, where the wreck
of an in a thunderstorm turned and sunken iron ore carrier
supposedly lies but no one knows where, and Tandläkarudden.
How deep this deep hole is? No one knows.
Many have tried by lead and line.
And when the line came up, bitten off
as elegantly as by a barber’s knife
or the chain they tried instead
as neat and tidy in its incision
after what surely could only be
very large teeth, they gave
up trying. Christopher Middleton
described them in his poem “The Mole”.
It was certainly effective,
for a couple of summers later a busload
of Englishmen, eccentrics and experts
of deep lakes’ monsters. They leaded
and noted. Per Brusling made them coffee,
now an older man who knows something of the lake.
Over Björn Nilsson’s grave, the summer wind blows now.
And I fear that I am the only one who now knows
what really happened.
The expedition returned
deeply convinced that this giant catfish,
not just monstrous and ill-spirited,
is also shrewd, very shrewd
and knows it must hide in dusky depths
whenever someone comes to seek it.
Born in 1965, in Fenghua, Zhejiang, Shu Cai was originally Chen Shucai. He graduated with a BA in French literature from the Department of French Language and Literature, Beijing Foreign Languages University in 1987. From 1990 to 1994, he worked as a diplomat in the Chinese Embassy in Senega and has since been working as a research fellow in Foreign Literature Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He won the Medal of Academic Palm Knight in France in 2008. His publications include such collections of poetry as Solitaire (China, 1997) and Short Poems by Shu Cai (Hong Kong, 2004) and his translations of French literature include A Selection of Poems by Pierre Reverdy (China, 2002), Selected Poems by René Char (China, 2002), Selected Poems by Nine French Poets (Shanghai, 2009).
What can the living say
And the dead just
‘Look, no one can avoid
my measuring up!’
That may be what
God of Death wants to say
The dead have died with resolution
And the living, still living punctiliously
The greatest puzzlement remaining
That of being born and having to die
Hai Zi Forever
A friend, heart filled with water, has travelled far from home
A friend, walking as he looks towards the far fire, has travelled far from home
A friend, murmuring the names of his loved ones, has travelled far from home…
He has since gone into hiding deep in his undying heart
His eyes, stopped, are like two holes on the ridge of a field
His name, his pain, in which the face of his previous life changes
The bad news, spreading across the land along the railway…
So many are saved for that!
Brother, you have not fallen, and we are still on our knees
Our native home so richly abundant you can’t keep tasting it
Our fields so fertile bones turn up when you dig them…
How can you so ruthlessly grind time to pieces?
Your early dreams will definitely be realized, and because of that
You’ve got to trust me with the road behind you. Like you
I love the body temperature in labour, flowers and grasses in the eruption of the mud…
I am alive, but I’ll keep being so till the end
When you died, the legend has it, you looked well
Like the sun whose blood rose in another direction in blood
Your pain already scattered in the enclosed words
He who trembles in the touch will be happy for the rest of his life!
Tonight, a pair of eyes in the sky
Kind, honest, brimful with sadness!
Tonight, the pair of eyes speak to me: Son,
Cry, cry and be strong!
For long, I watch the eyes
That look like the skies
Unlike the dew or grapes
No, but they look like the skies!
Unstoppable tears make me glitter
The May night makes me glitter
Everything so distant
But the distant is something that I can never forget the rest of my life
Wherever they are
The eyes, wherever they are, are like the skies
For every day I stand under the skies
I can feel the light coming from Mother
Ouyang Yu came to Australia in early 1991 and has since published 55 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and literary criticism in the English and Chinese languages. He also edits Australia’s only Chinese literary journal, Otherland (since 1995). His noted books include his award-winning novel, The Eastern Slope Chronicle (2002), his collections of poetry, Songs of the Last Chinese Poet (1997) and New and Selected Poems (Salt Publishing, 2004), his translations in Chinese, The Female Eunuch (1991) and The Man Who Loved Children (1998), and his book of literary criticism, Chinese in Australian Fiction: 1888-1988 (Cambria Press, 2008). The English Class (Transit Lounge), has been named as one of the Best Books of 2010 in Australian Book Review and The Age as well as the Sydney Morning Herald. His third English novel, Loose: a Wild History, is forthcoming with Wakefield Press in 2011, which, together with his first English novel, The Easter Slope Chronicle, will form the Yellow Town Trilogy. His latest book of poetry, titled, White and Yu, was released in April 2010 by PressPress. He is now based in Melbourne.
Aandaal, ஆண்டாள், an 8th century Tamil mystic poet followed the poetic conventions of her time by requesting monsoon clouds to act as messenger to her love, the God of the Universe. Besides the literal meaning, each verse embeds parallel and inset meanings that are left to the reader to discover. Simultaneous shifts in meaning dynamize each verse into a literary trompe l’oeil. The following are translations from Naachiar Tirumozhi, a poem of 143 verses that belongs to an erotic genre of spiritual verse, not favoured by conservative Tamil Vaishnavites.
from The Sacred Songs of the Lady
Song 8: Dark Rain Clouds Be My Messengers
Dark cloud roof unfurling beneath
the roof of the covering sky
Do you herald the coming of my lord Tirumal from high
Venkata hill where the bright waterfall plunge?
My tears, luminous, stream between the full
hills of my breasts
I am not to weep; yet he makes me break my vow,
how does this honour him?
Vast curly vault veiling
the sky’s star drizzled dome
Does your darkness hide
his gleaming darkness from which shimmer
into my body’s wet valleys?
I weep, forsaking secrecy.
How could my coursing silver illumine his glory?
Still I flow
a stream lightening –struck
see my glory
Monsoon clouds you spread across
the sky, slash
it raining torrents, you shake the honey-heavy blossoms
of Vengadam and scatter scented petals.
Go tell the dark lord who killed the demon Hiranya
ripping him with paws of fury
that he has robbed me of my bangles.
He must return them to me now!
Dark clouds you enlarge in anger, growl and roll
across the skies rending it open
with rain, lightning bolts; you tear
flowers, spill honey, petals clot like blood on earth.
Go to the fiercest lord who plunged his claws in Hiranya roaring,
mane tossing as his bloody paws ripped insides out
tell him: I’ve grown thin with longing, bangles slip from wrists!’
He must heal me with his touch
engorged with anger
nails extending you kill
plunging wrists in
these very hands I seek
to caress me
gather my swollen ripeness in
my body’s blood flower bursts
In his avatar as Kurma, submerged tortoise, he supported
the churning of the star –milk ocean awash
with gems; cosmic treasures bubbled out. Descend
clouds, down to the lotus feet of Vengadam’s lord and lay
there my surrender. Fragrant saffron paste covers
my breasts — that must be wipe
on him; he must embrace
me if only for a day or I waste away.
Splendid the Milky Way spreads
spinning constellations plucked from its depths shimmer
as the great churning begins — before
Time begins. Lotus eyed Nayarana, the Eternal
One caused this to be. Dive deep clouds and lay
me at his crimsoned feet. Tell him of my
surrender; tell him to wash my body’s scarlet longing
for just today else I die.
Time’s great ocean, each second, each eternity
churn away my adornments
churn my body’s milk
churn me red
from my ocean
churn out my truest self.
Let me rise to you my love
or let me die
Priya Sarukkai Chabria is a poet, writer and translator. Her publications include Dialogues and Other Poems (2005) reprint (2006) and Not Springtime Yet (2008)
Sarukkai-Chabria edits the website Talking Poetry and edited the anthology 50 Poets 50 Poems. Recipient of Senior Fellowship to Outstanding Artists from the Indian government, she has worked with the Rasa Theory of Aesthetics, co-founded a film society Friends of the Archive and collaborated with classical dancer Malavika Sarukkai. She has been invited to The Writer’s Center, UK; ‘Alphabet City’, Canada; Frankfurt Book Fair etc. and many literary festivals in India. Her work is published in numerous international journals and websites, and anthologized. She is translating works of eighth century Tamil mystic poet Aandaal; writing a travelogue and a story collection; all three books are to be published in 2011.
José Kozer, born in Havana, Cuba, 1940, has lived in the USA since 1960, taught Spanish literature at Queens College from 1965 to 1997, and is now living in Hallandale, Florida. Kozer is the author of 56 books of poetry and his work has been partially translated into several languages as well as published in many journals and anthologies.
DIVERTIMENTO (MA NON TROPPO)
él, pato que era, metía la cabeza bajo un ala,
la oía cacarear, a grito
pelado desde lo alto
madre al fin que era
y con qué fin quién
lo sabrá, a voz en
cuello hendía y
vocales donde, pato
que era, el chico
supuraba, a final
de cuentas era su
madre, ¿no estaba
en su derecho? Él
se arrebujaba más
a fondo bajo el ala,
la madre le volaba
la cabeza, el chico
griegas, oía vibrar
las trompas del
Señor, se santiguaba
a la manera de los
ortodoxos rusos, la
señal de la cruz a
la altura de los labios:
a qué le chillan, por
qué la madre
sus costumbres que
desde niño, ¿o no
se ha dado cuenta?
después de todo él
es él, a quién molesta
o hace daño, pero por
Dios, que baje Dios y
lo vea, se lo diga a la
madre, si es todo un
elevada, ved su
gran amor, en
efecto, por la
más pedir, pedirle,
y la vieja dejar de
lo enciende oírla
hurgar y hurgar ahí
do el pecado se
pone más de
manifiesto ah igual
que en el Romance
del Rey Rodrigo, lo
leyeron en clase,
con qué emoción
lo leyó de pie
ante la clase, lo
rieron: las chicas casi
lloran: y el amigo de
su amigo le dio un
abrazo a oscuras
que por poco lo
hace mixto lo
apachurra se le iba
la vida cuánta emoción:
y mete la cabeza aún
más bajo el ala, no la
oye chillar sus burradas,
se besan se abrasan
son Uno (fundidos) en
santo y casto Amor
que todo lo vence,
coño, sal de ahí que
te conozco bijirita,
basta ya de tus, a
quién te crees que
engañas: tú, que
ve y hazme abuela,
ve, ven ya palomo
de mamá, cosona
mía, curruca, alba de
alas, buche, cloaca, mi
aguilucho sin destino
tragona (por detrás)
cresta (mamá, no seas
vulgar) vaya mota que
gastas hijo mío, ve y
mírate en el espejo,
el ridículo que haces:
sal, ven, besa y
mucho, como si fuera
esta noche y bla bla
bla la última vez,
DIVERTIMENTO (MA NON TROPPO)
he, silly goose, ducked his head under a wing,
listening to her cluck, screaming
from on high
lashing out at him screeching
after all she was his mother
to what end who
will ever know, her voice
on high rented the air and
chords where, gay goose
that he was, the boy
all she was his
mother, wasn’t it
her right? He
wrapped himself more
thoroughly under his own wing,
his mother blew
his brain, the boy
hussars, a month of
Sundays passed by, he heard
the horns of the Lord
vibrate, crossed himself
Russian Orthodox do, the
sign of the cross
at the height of the lips:
why all the screeching at him, why
does his mother
carry on, his own
his habits of a
lifetime, or doesn’t
after all he is
what he is, whom does he bother
or hurt, for heaven’s
sake, let God Himself come down
and witness it, tell his
mother, he’s a big
old boy of
quality, behold his
great love, truly,
ask for anything else, ask him for more,
and his old lady to stop
spitting rude words at him,
it stirs him to hear her
digging and digging right there
whence the sin resides
apparent oh just
as in the Ballad
of King Roderick, it
was read in class,
with such feeling
he read it standing
before the class, they
applauded him: some
laughed: the girls almost
cried: and his friend’s
friend gave him such an embrace
in the dark
neutered him squashing his
life away with such
he ducks his head even
more under his own wing, doesn’t
hear her asinine screeches,
they kiss and burn
they are One (fused together) in
holy and chaste Love
which overcometh all,
shit, stop pretending
my little bird,
stop your, who
do you think
you’re fooling: you who will
never be able
to conceive, go ahead,
go ahead and make me a grandma,
go ahead, come here mama’s
big dove, love of my
life, white-throated honey, feathered
wings, belly, cloaca, my
cock comb (mother please, don’t be
crass) what a great hairdo
sonny boy, go check yourself
out in the mirror,
come on, come here, kiss and
love me, love me a lot
as the song goes,
tonight and blah, blah,
blah for the last time,
do you see?
Born in Cuba and educated there and in the U.S., after a long career in the teaching profession, Dr. Jorge Yviricu is now Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages at California State University, Bakersfield. He has published criticism on many Latin American novelists and poets as well as his own poetry and short stories. His previous translations include Spanish versions of poems by Sylvia Plath and Marilyn Hacker.
Après le Déluge
Aussitôt que l'idée du Déluge se fut rassise,
Un lièvre s'arrêta dans les sainfoins et les clochettes mouvantes et dit sa prière
à l'arc-en-ciel à travers la toile de l'araignée.
Oh les pierres précieuses qui se cachaient, — les fleurs qui regardaient déjà.
Dans la grande rue sale les étals se dressèrent, et l'on tira les barques vers la mer
étagée là-haut comme sur les gravures.
Le sang coula, chez Barbe-Bleue, — aux abattoirs, — dans les cirques, où le
sceau de Dieu blêmit les fenêtres. Le sang et le lait coulèrent.
Les castors bâtirent. Les "mazagrans" fumèrent dans les estaminets.
Dans la grande maison de vitres encore ruisselante les enfants en deuil
regardèrent les merveilleuses images.
Une porte claqua, et sur la place du hameau, l'enfant tourna ses bras, compris
des girouettes et des coqs des clochers de partout, sous l'éclatante giboulée.
Madame * * * établit un piano dans les Alpes. La messe et les premières
communions se célébrèrent aux cent mille autels de la cathédrale.
Les caravanes partirent. Et le Splendide-Hôtel fut bâti dans le chaos de glaces
et de nuit du pôle.
Depuis lors, la Lune entendit les chacals piaulant par les déserts de thym, — et
les églogues en sabots grognant dans le verger. Puis, dans la futaie violette,
bourgeonnante, Eucharis me dit que c'était le printemps.
— Sourds, étang, — Écume, roule sur le pont, et par dessus les bois; — draps
noirs et orgues, — éclairs et tonnerres — montez et roulez; — Eaux et tristesses,
montez et relevez les Déluges.
Car depuis qu'ils se sont dissipés, — oh les pierres précieuses s'enfouissant, et
les fleurs ouvertes! — c'est un ennui! et la Reine, la Sorcière qui allume sa braise dans
le pot de terre, ne voudra jamais nous raconter ce qu'elle sait, et que nous ignorons.
— Arthur Rimbaud, “Illuminations”
After the Flood
After the idea of the flood had dried up,
A hare stooped amid the clover and trembling bluebells and said his prayer to the
rainbow through a spider’s web.
Oh what precious stones in hiding, — the flowers that were already staring out.
Down the sullied main drag stalls were erected, and boats were drawn out to sea,
which staggered above as in old engravings.
Blood flowed, at Bluebeard’s, — in abbatoirs, — in circuses, wherever the seal of
God paled the windows. Blood and milk flowed.
Beavers got building. Glasses of coffee steamed in small cafes.
In the big glass house still dripping with water, children in mourning gazed at the
A door slammed, and a boy swung his arms through the village square,
understood by weathervanes and clock-towers everywhere, in the glittering rain.
Madame * * * installed a piano in the Alps. Mass and first communions were
celebrated at the hundred-thousand altars of the cathedral.
Caravans decamped. And the Hotel Splendide was built amid the chaos of
glaciers and the polar night.
From then on, the Moon heard jackals yapping through deserts of thyme, — and
eclogues with wooden feet grumbling in the orchard. Then, in the purple forest,
burgeoning, Eucharis told me that springtime had come.
— Surge, puddle — Lather up, roll on the bridge and over the woods; — black
drapes and organs, — thunder and lightning; — ride and roll out; — Waters and
sorrows, rise and bring back the Floods.
For since they were dispelled, — oh what precious stones burrowed down, what
flowers unfurled! — ah whatever! The Queen, the Witch who lights her embers in the
cauldron of earth, will never tell us what she knows, and what we don’t know.
Bien après les jours et les saisons, et les êtres et les pays,
Le pavillon en viande saignante sur la soie des mers et des fleurs
arctiques; (elles n'existent pas.)
Remis des vieilles fanfares d'héroïsme — qui nous attaquent encore le cœur et
la tête — loin des anciens assassins.
Oh! Le pavillon en viande saignante sur la soie des mers et des fleurs
arctiques; (elles n'existent pas.)
Les brasiers, pleuvant aux rafales de givre, — Douceurs! — les feux à la pluie
du vent de diamants jetée par le cœur terrestre éternellement carbonisé pour nous. —
O monde! —
(Loin des vieilles retraites et des vieilles flammes, qu'on entend, qu'on sent,)
Les brasiers et les écumes. La musique, virement des gouffres et choc des
glaçons aux astres.
O Douceurs, ô monde, ô musique! Et là, les formes, les sueurs, les chevelures
et les yeux, flottant. Et les larmes blanches, bouillantes, — ô douceurs! — et la voix
féminine arrivée au fond des volcans et des grottes arctiques.
— Arthur Rimbaud, “Illuminations”
Long after the days and the seasons, the living and the lands,
A flag of bloody flesh over silken seas and arctic flowers; (they don’t exist.)
Surviving old fanfares of heroism — which still attack our hearts and heads —
far from ancient assassins.
— Oh! A flag of bloody flesh over silken seas and arctic flowers; (they don’t
Blazing coals raining down flurries of ice, — Bliss! — fire in the rain of a
diamond wind, bursting through the earth’s eternally igneous heart for us. —
O world! —
(Far from old retreats and old flames, that we can hear, can smell,)
Blazing coal and spindrift. The music, shifting the abysses and shocking the
icicles into stars.
What bliss, o world, what music! And there, the shapes, the shivers, tresses and
eyes, floating. And white tears, boiling, — what bliss! — and a feminine voice
arriving at the depths of arctic volcanoes and chasms.
Chen Li was born in Hualien, Taiwan in 1954. Regarded as “one of the most innovative and exciting poets writing in Chinese today,” he is the author of 14 books of poetry and a prolific prose writer and translator. He graduated from the English Department of National Taiwan Normal University. With his wife Chang Fen-ling, he has translated into Chinese over 20 volumes of poetry, including the works of Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Wisława Szymborska, Tomas Tranströmer and Yosano Akiko. The recipient of many awards (e.g., the National Award for Literature and Arts, the Taiwan Literature Award) in his country, he is the organizer of the annual Pacific Poetry Festival in his hometown. His poems have been translated into English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Croatian, among other languages.
Translated by Chang Fen-ling
Dropping out of senior high and fooling around, my youngest brother is the black sheep of us three brothers. Although he has a blue dragon tattooed on his leg, his heart is as gentle and weak as our mother’s. Mother, who has been riding a bike to and from work all her life, has been paying off debts all her life. She has wished her youngest son to stop going astray. After the several motorcycles and cars she had bought for him were all gone, she borrowed money and bought him another car without my knowledge. That was a white car, white as the morning fog on winter days. That morning when I returned to Shanghai Street, I saw her, with cleaning cloth in hand, sneaking toward the white car parked on the roadside and wiping its body forcefully but gently, as if to rub the black sheep into a white one. She rubbed and rubbed, because she knew the white car might soon be gone, and she had to sew the white skin on quickly before the black sheep woke up.
I left a segment of my tongue in her pencil box. Consequently, every time she opened it to write a letter to her new lover, she would hear my mumbling words, which were like a line of scribbles, chafing among commas with the movement of her newly sharpened pencil. Then she would stop writing, not knowing it was my voice. She thought that I, who had never spoken to her since we last met, had kept silent for good. She wrote another line, finding the Chinese character “愛” (love), which consisted of so many strokes, was carelessly written. She handily picked up my tongue. Mistaking it for an eraser, she rubbed it forcefully on the paper, leaving a considerable drop of blood on the spot where the character “愛” disappeared.
Jorge Palma, poet and storyteller, was born in 1961 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he still lives. For many years he has worked for newspapers and radio stations, and has also run creative writing workshops, both poetry and prose. His poetry collections are Entre el viento y la sombra (1989), El olvido (1990), La via láctea (2006), Diarios del cielo (2006) and Lugar de las utopias (2007).
Peter Boyle (b. 1951) lives in Sydney. His first collection of poetry Coming home from the world (1994) received the National Book Council Award and the New South Wales Premier’s Award. Other collections include The Blue Cloud of Crying (1997), What the painter saw in our faces (2001) and Museum of Space (2004). His most recent book Apocrypha (2009) is an extensive collection of poems and other texts by a range of imaginary authors.
Un Rio Ancho Con Sabor A Otoño
Del rojo al verde
se muere el amarillo
Tú que tienes la precisión
prendida en la solapa:
¿a cuánto estamos hoy?
El olor de la tierra húmeda
trae en los bolsillos
noticias del mundo:
del rojo al verde
se muere el amarillo;
de mi casa al mercado
se mueren los niños
en el desierto.
Los noticieros hablan
de la guerra
y el cielo avanza.
Los noticieros hablan
de tormentas de arena
en el desierto
y los pájaros emigran
en mi cielo de otoño.
Mientras enciendo un cigarrillo
mientras la ropa
se seca al sol
se mueren los niños
en el desierto.
Del rojo al verde
se muere el amarillo.
Y las casas son abandonadas
por sus dueños,
y las viudas dejan flores
en la mitad de las camas
y se marchan,
se cubren la piel
con sus trapos de viuda
con sus pañuelos de luto
con sus ropas de humo
por el borde del cielo
y caminan por las orillas
En mi patio con macetas
caen flores del cielo
y caen también
por el sonido de la guerra,
y se despiertan las madres
bajo otro cielo
y en los mercados
las frutas, los pescados,
los pregones, no tienen
sonidos de luto,
ni hay viudas huyendo
a las fronteras
ni hay temblores de tierra
ni nadie sacude vidrio molido
de las mantas
ni los curas barren los escombros
de las catedrales y las iglesias
ni en mi cielo de otoño
contemplo esta mañana
la inmensa peregrinación
de ataúdes y pañuelos
que en algún lugar del mundo
se desatan; el polvo, la arena,
el desierto abrasador,
donde dicen estuvo el Paraíso
el Paraíso anhelado
a punto de perderse,
donde un niño sueña todavía
que tiene brazos
una familia, y sus piernas
inquietas de doce años
corren por las inmensas
arenas y salta, busca
nubes, desafía las leyes
de la física, soñando
por las tierras de Ur
a la sombra monumental
de las ruinas de Babilonia.
Del rojo al verde
se muere el amarillo.
Entre tu pecho
y el mío
se muere el amarillo.
entre tus alas y mi sueño
se muere el amarillo.
Entre tus piernas
y las mías
se muere el otoño,
a cuatro metros del cielo
a cuatro gotas de lluvia
o de rocío
a tres días de un disparo
demoledor y ciego
a dos minutos de la gloria
o el fracaso
a un segundo que aguarda
goteando el alba
tu boca de luz
para contrarrestar acaso
ese grito que vuela incesante
entre dos ríos que llevan
ese aullido que cruza el cielo
las tormentas el calor
un grito que cruza
el desierto, tu pecho
y golpea como un puño
las ventanas de mi cuarto,
aquí, en mi pequeño cielo
de los hombres recién rasurados
que no volverán a sus casas,
de las mujeres
que conversan en la puerta
de un mercado
sin saber que esa noche
dormirán con la muerte;
de los que cantaron
en las duchas
por última vez, hermosas
canciones de veinte siglos,
y no supieron nunca
de nosotros y este río
ni del nombre del río
que nos nombra y atraviesa
con su mansa identidad.
Aquí en el Sur,
mirando los ponientes.
Wide river with autumn fragrance
From red to green
You with the latest essential
glittering on your lapel,
do you even know what day it is?
In my pockets
the smell of damp earth
brings news from the world:
between red and green
between my house and the shops
in the desert.
The news speaks of war
and the sky moves forward.
The news talks of sandstorms
in the desert
and birds migrate
in my autumn sky.
While I light a cigarette
while the clothes
dry in the sun
in the desert.
From red to green
And the houses are abandoned
by their owners,
and widows leave flowers
on the middle of their beds
and walk away,
their skin covered
in widows’ rags
in handkerchiefs of mourning
clothes of smoke
and they walk
along the sky’s edge
and they walk by the shores
of the world.
On my patio with its pots
flowers fall from the sky
and birds fall
transfixed by the sounds of war,
and mothers wake up
under a changed sky
and in the marketplaces
the cries of people buying and selling,
don’t bear the weight of any
sound of grief,
there are no widows
fleeing to the frontiers
and no earthquakes
and no one removes ground-up glass
from their shirt-sleeves
and priests don’t sweep rubble
out of churches and cathedrals
and in my autumn sky
this morning I don’t contemplate
the enormous journeys
of coffins and handkerchiefs
that in some place in the world
will fall apart; dust, sand,
where they say Paradise was,
the longed-for about-to-vanish Paradise
where a child still dreams
he has arms
a family and legs,
the restless legs of a twelve-year-old child
who runs across immense sands,
leaps, looks for clouds,
defies the laws of physics, dreaming
in the lands of Ur
in the tremendous shadow
of a ruined Babylon.
From red to green
Between your breast and mine
Between your wings and my sleep
Between your legs
in four metres of sky
where four drops of rain
three days from a blind
blast of gunfire,
in two minutes of glory
in one second of watching
dawn fall drop by drop
your mouth of light
to counterbalance perhaps
the scream soaring without pause
between two rivers
that carry death,
this howling that comes to us
storms dry heat,
a scream that crosses
the desert, your heart
your dwelling place
and like a steel fist
the windows of my room,
here, in my small
from the freshly shaven men
who will never return home,
chatting in a shop door
not knowing that tonight
they will sleep with death,
from those who have sung in the shower
for the last time, beautiful songs
gathered from twenty centuries,
those who never knew of us
and this river
or the name of the river
that names and crosses us
with its gentle identity.
Here in the South
where we grow old
watching the sunsets.