A Path In The Luxembourg Gardens

Gérard de Nerval

(translated from French by mishari)

(for hic)

The young girl passed me,
quick as a bird and as lively:
a bright flower in her hand,
a new song on her lips.

It might be she, perchance,
whose heart would answer mine;
who, coming into my dark night,
would light it with a glance.

But no,– my youth is long gone…
adieu, sweet light that shone on me
– perfume, young girl, melody…
happiness has fled–it is all done.




by Reine

The sky seals
That envelope of mountain and earth
Wherein I enclose all my dreams
My memories, my secrets
And the sea washes away the dross
That will not fit or that defies category

If I could send it to you I would…
If I could empty its contents on your doorstep
Arched over by a rainbow and soft underfoot
I would send the missive daily
Instead, all that will fit is this crisp note
It may suffice for the acquisition
Of an image that will scratch the surface
Of this vast wealth

Saibhris, translated from English into Irish by Colm Breathnach.

Cuireann an spéir séala
Ar chlúdach litreach sin an tsléibhe is na talún
Go gcuirim faoi iamh ann mo chuid rún,
M’aislingí agus mo chuimhní go léir
Agus scuabann an fharraige chun siúil
An cacamas sin ar fad
Nach raghaidh isteach nó nach féidir a rangú

Dá bhféadfainn, dhéanfainn é a sheoladh chugat…
A inneachar a fhágaint ar do thairseach, b’fhéidir
Tuar ceatha ina stua thairis agus é bog faoi do chosaibh
Chuirfinn litir chugat in aghaidh an lae
Dá cheann sin ní raghaidh ann ach an nóta tirim airgid seo
Gur leor é, ráineodh, chun íomhá a fháil
A bhainfidh an barr do scéal an tsaibhris áibhéil seo.



Delta (after Eugenio Montale)

version by Jack Brae Curtingstall

My bond the life that bursts
as stealthy transfusions within you:
seeds that compete with themselves,
and suffocate oblivious of you.

That time that Time flushes its dykes,
you embrace the flood as yourself
and rise, thought of my mind, un-fogged
from the fog you entered; evaporate
as green brightens the branch, and on
the walls a wash of cinnabar.

I have no knowledge of you except
the voiceless message of my fate:
whether you are the shadow, or,
perhaps, the malarial shore, troubled
and nagged by the tide that feeds
you delusion, the haze of sleep.

Nothing of you in the weakening hours,
grey or rent by sulphurous burst,
except for the fog-horn of the tug
emerging into the clarity of berth.



Du Fu: The Winding River (2) – 曲江二首 (二)

Translated from Chinese by Simon M. Hunter

Returning every day from court, I pawn
spring clothes. The river sees my drunken mien;
my boozing debts mount up all over town.
Men do not often live three score and ten.
The butterflies go deep into the flowers,
the dragonflies on wing among the drops.
The passing time is always rushing hours;
no time to know you: separation stops.




Lament For the Cat That Held the Rats at Bay

by Mei Yaochen (1002 – 1060)

Version from the Chinese by Jack Brae Curtingstall

Miaow no more, Five Spots my cat;
You cleared my rooms of mouse and rat.
This dreary, dull and dewy dawn
(your passing marked with rice and prawn)
I dropped you in the river’s green,
forever mine but now unseen;
remembered all the rats you ate,
their entrails strewn down by the gate;
a charm you claimed that marked the bounds
of rat-free manor, house and grounds.
We’d sleep within this barge of ours,
your cat’s miaow and claw your powers
to keep my grain stores free of piss;
those rats forewarned by kitty’s hiss.
Protector of all that is mine,
worth more than all my hens and swine;
worth more than any colt or mare
upon which all my neighbours swear.
But why complain to Heaven’s ears?
These stains of salt prove all my tears.



Archäischer Torso Apollos (Apollo’s Archaic Torso) Rainer Maria Rilke

translated from German by mishari

The head is gone, we’ll never know
its eloquence or mute appeal,
the torso, though, like burnished steel
emits a timeless murmured glow.

Were this not true, not manifest
he’d be mere stone, unloved, unsought;
the loins, a keel carved to support
the bold, hard prow that is his breast.

And he would be misshapen rock
on which the past had placed a lock:
as dull as a dead lion’s mane;

nor radiance burst from his pelt,
to star-like, burn with truth and pain
and speak to you: go find yourself.



La guigliottina a vapore (The Steam-Driven Guillotine)
by Giuseppe Giusti (1809-1850)

version from the Italian by Jack Brae Curtingstall

In China they have now employed –
its workings turned by steam, its blade
in endless motion – a Guillotine Engine.
In just three hours this contraption
attends three thousand heads-worth of lop,
all queuing for the chop.

This dead-end train has caused a noise
in foreign parts and our own town;
and all the priests and altar boys
say China’s dullards are winnowed down;
unlike our European masses –
still full of dolts and dumb-arses.

China’s Emperor is as pure as mustard
and loves his people with a passion,
(although sometimes he’s a stupid bastard
and simply follows statecraft fashion),
but his protégés are very bright
and make sure to say that he is right.

A neighbouring province under his thrall
could not be pleased at all at all,
and whinged of tax and unfair rule
and moaned and moaned into their gruel.
So the Emperor in his kindness
chopped their heads off to end their blindness.

This wonderful machine for people-chopping
made a fortune for its maker;
his wife went off on endless shopping
and his son became State Undertaker.
And for his services there’s a badge of tin
and he’s an Honorary Mandarin.

Our Bishop shouts: “Let’s do this here,
let’s kill the poor and kill the queer;
let’s kill those burdened with their grief,
for the Kingdom of God is their relief.”
The Pope agrees and we condone;
for that guillotine was made in Rome.