It’s not pointless to love,
Just like training snakes, it calls for
a refined technique and losing our shame
of performing in front of the world in loincloths.
And nerves of steel.
But loving is a job
with benefits, too: its liturgy soothes
the idleness that maddens—as Catullus knew—
and ruined the happiest cities.
Under the tightrope there stretches—don’t ask
for a net, it’s not possible—another rope,
so loose, but ultimately
so pointless at times,
below which there is nothing.
windows that air out your anger and show
to your night other nights that are different, and like that
only love saves us at last from the grip
of the worst danger we know of:
to be only–and nothing else—ourselves.
This is why,
now that everything is said and I have
a place in the country of blasphemy,
now that the pain of making words
from my own pain
has crossed the thresholds
I need from your love an anesthetic;
come with your morphine kisses to sedate me,
come encircle my waist with your arms,
making a life preserver, to keep the lethal weight
of sadness from drowning me;
come dress me in the clothes of hope—I almost
had forgotten a word like that—,
even if they fit me big as on a child
wearing his father’s biggest shirt;
come supervise my oblivion and the gift of unconsciousness;
come protect me—my worst enemy
and most tenacious—, come make me a haven
even if it’s a lie
—because everything is a lie
and yours is merciful—;
come cover my eyes
and say it passed, it passed, it passed,
—even if nothing passed, because nothing passes—,
And if nothing will free us from death
at least love will save us from life.
Of a Vanished Kingdom
Put your face to the wind
For I do not know when again
We have too little time left to forget.
We cannot rely on forgetting.
The wind pasted an old newspaper to the olive tree.
Put your face.
Once we stood together
As a symbol of a vanished kingdom:
wild beasts, banners, and obsolete weapons
In one bundle, tied with a band of soothing words
In an ancient language.
A phrase from the prayerbook of history
In your voice a tune still remains
of Talmudic students.
“Do you love me?”
If we don’t remain together, we won’t remain at all.
Let alone live.
When I Am Dead
Scatter my ashes
to every wind,
that what my body was
the way may find
to all it loved and left behind,
to cloud and sea
and with them be
Na mijn dood
Strooi uit mijn as
voor alle winden,
dat wat mijn lichaam was
de weg kan vinden
naar alles wat het eens beminde,
naar wolk en zee
en zich daarmee
The Ungay Science
–Carlos Drummond de Andrade
A Ingaia ciência
A madureza, essa terrível prenda
que alguém nos dá, raptando-nos, com ela,
todo sabor gratuito de oferenda
sob a glacialidade de uma estela,
a madureza vê, posto que a venda
interrompa a surpresa da janela,
o círculo vazio, onde se estenda,
e que o mundo converte noma cela.
A madureza sabe o preço exato
dos amores, dos ócios, dos quebrantos,
e nada pode contra sua ciência
e nem contra si mesma. O agudo olfato,
o agudo olhar, a mão, livre de encantos,
se destroem no sonho da existência.
How Much Time
I remember the rain,
But I have forgotten things
The rain covered years ago.
My gaze is lifted
Like an airplane between control tower
And open spaces of abandonment and oblivion.
A foreign country covers
my face with its waters
I am a sad general of streaming water.
Cambridge. Closed door of a friend’s house:
How much time must pass
For such spiderwebs to take shape,
How much time?
Hand in Hand
–Carlos Drummond de Andrade
I won’t be the poet of a decrepit world.
Nor will I sing the world of the future.
I’m bound to life, and I look at my companions.
They’re taciturn but nourish great hopes.
In their midst, I consider capacious reality.
The present is so large, let’s not stray far.
Let’s stay together and go hand in hand.
I won’t be the singer of some woman, some tale,
I won’t evoke the sights at dusk, the scene outside the window,
I won’t distribute drugs or suicide letters,
I won’t flee to the islands or be carried off by seraphim.
Time is my matter, present time, present people,
the present life.
Não serei o poeta de um mundo caduco
Também não cantarei o mundo futuro
Estou preso à vida e olho meus companheiros
Estão taciturnos mas nutrem grandes esperanças
Entre eles, considero a enorme realidade
O presente é tão grande, não nos afastemos
Não nos afastemos muito, vamos de mãos dadas
Não serei o cantor de uma mulher, de uma história
Não direi os suspiros ao anoitecer, a paisagem vista da janela
Não distribuirei entorpecentes ou cartas de suicida
Não fugirei para as ilhas nem serei raptado por serafins
O tempo é a minha matéria, o tempo presente, os homens presentes
A vida presente
–Czeslaw MiloszWe were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.A red wing rose in the darkness.And suddenly a hare ran across the road.One of us pointed to it with his hand.That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.O my love, where are they, where are they goingThe flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.