[Photo of Manhattan (left) and Brooklyn Bridges (right) is in the public domain]
for Gerald & Shirah Kober Zeller
Lord, lord...why are our finest always dead
It was sunrise, October.
Karen had just done herself in.
I suffered it through with
impregnate the earth
whispering and loving its children
grown among the wandering souls
each morning in spring
where it is quiet
where we sit in silence
to behold the morning sun
(Suggested by the lives of Napoleon and Josephine.)
ONE night was full of rapture and delight-
Of reunited arms and swooning kisses,
And all the unnamed and unnumbered blisses
Which fond souls find in love of love at night.
Heart beat with heart, and each clung into each
With twining arms that did but loose their hold
To cling still closer; and fond glances told
These truths for which there is no uttered speech.
Translations Dante - Inferno, Canto XXVI
Florence, rejoice! For thou o'er land and sea
So spread'st thy pinions that the fame of thee
Hath reached no less into the depths of Hell.
So noble were the five I found to dwell
Therein -- thy sons -- whence shame accrues to me
And no great praise is thine; but if it be
That truth unveil in dreamings before dawn,
Then is the vengeful hour not far withdrawn
When Prato shall exult within her walls
To see thy suffering. Whate'er befalls,
Let it come soon, since come it must, for later,
Too long and quickly have I lived to vow
The woe that stretches me shall never wane,
Too often seen the end of endless pain
To swear that peace no more shall cool my brow.
I know, I know- again the shriveled bough
Will burgeon sweetly in the gentle rain,
And these hard lands be quivering with grain-
I tell you only: it is Winter now.
Tz'u No. 12
To the tune of "Happy Event Is Nigh"
The wind ceases; fallen flowers pile high.
Outside my screen, petals collect in heaps of red
This reminds me that after the blooming
of the cherry-apple tree
It is time to lament the dying spring.
Singing and drinking have come to an end;
jade cups are empty;
Lamps are flickering.
Hardly able to bear the sorrows and regrets
of my dreams,
I hear the mournful cry of the cuckoo.
Tz'u No. 10 Exile
To the tune of "Bodhisattva Aliens"
Soft breezes, mild sunshine,
spring is still young.
The sudden change of the light
brightened my spirit.
But upon awakening from slumber,
I felt the chill air;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Where can I call my native land?
Forget - I cannot, except in wine
when I drown my care.
Incense was lighted when I went to sleep;
Though the embers are now cold,
the warmth of wine still burns on.
Two Songs From a Play
I saw a staring virgin stand
Where holy Dionysus died,
And tear the heart out of his side.
And lay the heart upon her hand
And bear that beating heart away;
Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
As though God's death were but a play.
Another Troy must rise and set,
Another lineage feed the crow,
Another Argo's painted prow
Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
The Roman Empire stood appalled:
It dropped the reins of peace and war
When that fierce virgin and her Star
Out of the fabulous darkness called.