calming nostalgia

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Untitled
Yehuda Amichai
If now, in the middle of my life, I think
of death, I do so out of confidence
that in the middle of death I will suddenly think
of life, with the same calming nostalgia
and with the distant gaze of people
who know their prophecies come true.

Photo by T L on Unsplash

 

without passion

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Old Marx
Adam Zagajewski

He can’t think.
London is damp,
in every room someone coughs.
He never did like winter.
He rewrites past manuscripts
time and again, without passion.
The yellow paper
is fragile as consumption.

Why does life race
stubbornly toward destruction?
But spring returns in dreams,
with snow that doesn’t speak
in any known tongue.
And where does love fit
within his system?
Where you find blue flowers.

He despises anarchists,
idealists bore him.
He receives reports from Russia,
far too detailed.
The French grow rich.
Poland is common and quiet.
America never stops growing.
Blood is everywhere,

perhaps the wallpaper needs changing.
He begins to suspect
that poor humankind
will always trudge
across the old earth
like the local lunatic
shaking her fists
at an unseen God.

Photo (c) 2013 Ruben Gustav used under Creative Commons license.

“beyond three wild frontiers”

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Letter to My Wife
Miklós Radnóti
Down in the deep, dumb worlds are waiting, silent;
I shout; the silence in my ears is strident,
but no one can reply to it from far
Serbia, fallen into a swoon of war,
and you are far. My dream, your voice, entwine,
by day I find it in my heart again;
knowing this I keep still while, standing proudly,
rustling, cool to the touch, many great ferns surround me.

When may I see you? I hardly know any longer,
you, who were solid, were weighty as the psalter,
beautiful as a shadow and beautiful as light,
to whom I would find my way, whether deafmute or blind;
now hiding in the landscape, from within,
on my eyes, you flash–the mind projects its film.
You were reality, returned to dream
and, fallen back into the well of my teen years,

jealously question you: whether you love me,
whether, on my youth’s summit, you will yet be
my wife–I am now hoping once again,
and, back on life’s alert road, where I have fallen,
I know you are all this. My wife, my friend and peer–
only, far! Beyond three wild frontiers.
It is turning fall. Will fall forget me here?
The memory of our kisses is all the clearer;

I believed in miracles, forgot their days;
above me I see a bomber squadron cruise.
I was just admiring, up there, your eyes’ blue sheen,
when it clouded over, and up in that machine
the bombs were aching to dive. Despite them, I am alive,
a prisoner; and all that I had hoped for, I have
sized up, in breadth. I will find my way to you;
for you I have walked the spirit’s full length as it grew,

and highways of the land. If need be, I will render
myself, a conjurer, past cardinal embers,
amid nose-diving flames, but I will come back,
if I must be, I shall be as resilient as the bark
on trees. I am soothed by the peace of savage men
in constant danger: worth the whole wild regimen
of arms and power; and, as from a cooling wave of the sea,
sobriety’s 2×2 comes raining down on me.

Original

Levél a hitveshez (Hungarian)
A mélyben néma, hallgató világok,
üvölt a csönd fülemben s felkiáltok,
de nem felelhet senki rá a távol,
a háborúba ájult Szerbiából
s te messze vagy. Hangod befonja álmom,
s szivemben nappal ujra megtalálom,
hát hallgatok, míg zsong körém felállván
sok hűvös érintésü büszke páfrány.

Mikor láthatlak ujra, nem tudom már,
ki biztos voltál, súlyos, mint a zsoltár,
s szép mint a fény és oly szép mint az árnyék,
s kihez vakon, némán is eltalálnék,
most bujdokolsz a tájban és szememre
belülről lebbensz, így vetít az elme;
valóság voltál, álom lettél ujra,
kamaszkorom kútjába visszahullva

féltékenyen vallatlak, hogy szeretsz-e?
s hogy ifjuságom csúcsán, majdan, egyszer,
a hitvesem leszel, – remélem ujra
s az éber lét útjára visszahullva
tudom, hogy az vagy. Hitvesem s barátom, –
csak messze vagy! Túl három vad határon.
S már őszül is. Az ősz is ittfelejt még?
A csókjainkról élesebb az emlék;

csodákban hittem s napjuk elfeledtem,
bombázórajok húznak el felettem;
szemed kékjét csodáltam épp az égen,
de elborult s a bombák fönt a gépben
zuhanni vágytak. Ellenükre élek, –
s fogoly vagyok. Mindent, amit remélek
fölmértem s mégis eltalálok hozzád;
megjártam érted én a lélek hosszát,

s országok útjait; bíbor parázson,
ha kell, zuhanó lángok közt varázslom
majd át magam, de mégis visszatérek;
ha kell, szívós leszek, mint fán a kéreg,
s a folytonos veszélyben, bajban élő
vad férfiak fegyvert s hatalmat érő
nyugalma nyugtat s mint egy hűvös hullám:
a 2 x 2 józansága hull rám.

hedgehogs

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Half a Hedgehog
Miroslav Holub
The rear half had been run over,
leaving the head and thorax
and the front legs of the hedgehog shape.

A scream from a cramped-open
jaw. The scream of the mute is
more horrible than the silence after a flood,
when even black swans float
belly upwards.

And even if some hedgehog doctor were
to be found in a hollow trunk or under the leaves
in a beechwood there’d be no hope
for that mere half on Road E12.

In the name of logic,
in the name of the theory of pain,
in the name of the hedgehog god the father, the son
and the holy ghost amen,
in the name of games and unripe raspberries,
in the name of tumbling streams of love
ever different and ever bloody,
in the name of the roots which over-grow
the heads of aborted foetuses,
in the name of satanic beauty,
in the name of skin bearing human likeness,
in the name of all halves
and double helices, or purines
and pyrimidines

we tried to run over
the hedgehog’s head with the front wheel.

And it was like guiding a lunar module
from a planetary distance,
from a control centre seized
by a cataleptic sleep.

And the mission failed. I got out
and found a heavy piece of brick.
Half the hedgehog continued screaming. And now
the scream turned into speech,

prepared by
the vaults of our tombs:
Then death will come and it will have your eyes.

discovered cure

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Cure
Marin Sorescu
When the cure for a disease is discovered
those who have died of the illness
ought to rise again
And go on living
All the rest of their days
Until they fall sick with another disease
whose cure has not yet been discovered.

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

this is futile

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Futility
Ante Popovski
Words are not life, and therefore they are eternal.
Surely there must have been a serious reason
Why among all the languages of the world
Only the Gypsy language
Has no word for “to have”.
I make a note of that. But this is futile.
You can’t write on your soul using a pen.

Photo by MJ S on Unsplash

finally it’s everything

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A Love Letter
Julio Cortázar
Everything I’d want from you
is finally so little

because finally it’s everything

like a dog going by, or a hill,
those meaningless things, mundane,
wheat ear and long hair and two lumps of sugar,
the smell of your body,
whatever you say about anything
with or against me,

all that which is so little
I want from you because I love you

May you look beyond me,
may you love me with violent disregard
for tomorrow, let the cry
of your coming explode
in the boss’s face in some office

and let the pleasure we invent together
be one more sign of freedom.

Original

Una carta de amor
Todo lo que de vos quisiera
es tan poco en el fondo
porque en el fondo es todo,

como un perro que pasa, una colina,
esas cosas de nada, cotidianas,
espiga y cabellera y dos terrones,
el olor de tu cuerpo,
lo que decís de cualquier cosa,
conmigo o contra mía,

todo eso es tan poco,
yo lo quiero de vos porque te quiero.

Que mires más allá de mí,
que me ames con violenta prescindencia
del mañana, que el grito
de tu entrega se estrelle
en la cara de un jefe de oficina,

y que el placer que juntos inventamos
sea otro signo de la libertad.