…He leads me to smell a scent on the breeze of nearness,
reviving me, though the hot winds blow.
He tears away the veils of pride and heedlessness
that cloud the skies of the heart,
So I behold the truth of Truth in every atom,
and leave aside what passes and does not last.
– ‘A’isha al-Ba’uniyya. excerpt from When a breeze of acceptance wafts in
translated by Th. Emil Homerin
No work pulled tight, silent, and monotonous as endlessly sculpted sea – but
outbursts concessions to earth’s effervescence – opening past worry and
torment a stridency of beaches for the heart – bursts always dislocated,
always reiterated, and beyond consummation – not works but the matter
itself where a work makes its way – all bound up in some project about to
cast them away – first cries, naïve murmurs, weary forms – witnesses,
though awkward, of this project – which, as their imperfections must meet
perfectly cohere – here with the power to convince that we must stop at the
uncertain – things that tremble, waver, and ceaselessly become – like a land
in the grip of devastation – sparse.
– Edouard Glissant. from Riveted Blood
translated by Betsy Wing
He seems to me equal to gods that man
whoever he is who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking
and lovely laughing—oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me
no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead—or almost
I seem to me.
But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty
– Sappho. fragment 31
translated by Anne Carson
I am as though, when camels journey off into the distance,
Over the plains’ spreading wings,
Of a sea by eyes unfathomed,
Its water far, swallowing up the evening of return.
– Ibn al-Mu‘tazz
translated by Jaroslav Stetkevych
The difference between poetry and rhetoric
ready to kill
instead of your children.
– Audre Lorde. excerpt from Power
and yet how his mournful song moves us.
Out in the grass his cry was a tremble,
but now he trills beneath our bed, to share his sorrow.
I lie still beside you, finding no release:
you, old wife, you suffer quiet through till dawn.
The song of our selves may move us, restless,
through long nights. The cricket’s song of autumn
holds us still.
– Du Fu. House Cricket
translated by J. P. Seaton
Innermost chaos understood at first
As Gaia’s long pent-up emotions crippling
Her sun-thrilled body, spun to the great Lyre;
Pent up, but all too soon unleashed—outburst
Savage enough to bury in its fire
The pendant charms she wore, palace and stripling,
A molten afterbirth transmuting these
Till Oedipus became Empedocles—
Leaper headlong into that primal scene
And deafening tirade. The mother tongue
At which his blood boiled, his brain kindled. Ash
Of afterthought where once the sage had been,
Louse in a log …Or else, supposing flesh
Withstood temptation, could a soul that clung
To its own fusing senses crawl as last
Away unshriveled by the holocaust?
– James Merrill. excerpt from Santorini: Stopping the Leak