Jun 202016
 

I have erected a monument to myself
Not built by hands; the track of it, though trodden
By the people, shall not become overgrown,
And it stands higher than Alexander’s column. 

I shall not wholly die. In my sacred lyre
My soul shall outlive my dust and escape corruption —
And I shall be famed so long as underneath
The moon a single poet remains alive.

I shall be noised abroad through all great Russia,
Her innumerable tongues shall speak my name:
The tongue of the Slavs’ proud grandson, the Finn, and now
The wild Tungus and Kalmyk, the steppes’ friend.

In centuries to come I shall be loved by the people
For having awakened noble thoughts with my lyre,
For having glorified freedom in my harsh age
And called for mercy towards the fallen.

Be attentive, Muse, to the commandments of God;
Fearing no insult, asking for no crown,
Receive with indifference both flattery and slander,
And do not argue with a fool.

— Translated by Dylan M. Thomas 

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Jun 142016
 

I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.

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May 142016
 

When the goldfinch, in his airy confection,
Suddenly gets angry, begins to quake,
His spite sets off his scholar’s robes,
Shows to advantage his cute black cap.

And he slanders the hundred bars,
Curses the sticks and perches of his prison—
And the world’s turned completely inside out,
And surely there’s a forest Salamanca
For birds so smart, so disobedient.

—trans. Andrew Davis

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May 122016
 

Here are the essentials of a happy life,
my dear friend: money not worked for,
but inherited; some land not unproductive;
a hearth fire always going; law suits never;
the toga rarely worn; a calm mind;
a gentleman’s strong and healthy body;
circumspect candor, friends who are your equals;
relaxed dinner parties, a simple table,
nights not drunken, but free from anxieties;
a marriage bed not prudish, and yet modest;
plenty of sleep to make the dark hours short. Wish
to be what you are, and prefer nothing more.
Don’t fear your last day, or hope for it either.

Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
Iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
Res non parta labore, sed relicta;
Non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
Lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
Vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
Prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
Convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
Nox non ebria, sed soluta curis;
Non tristis torus, et tamen pudicus;
Somnus, qui faciat breves tenebras:
Quod sis, esse velis nihilque malis;
Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.

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Apr 202016
 

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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