Sep 242015
 

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run —
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).

You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.

 Comments Off on Wislawa Szymborska: Life While-You-Wait
Sep 202015
 

SONG VIII.
Love is Lord of all.

Why are Nature’s changes bound
To a fixed and ordered round?
What to leaguèd peace hath bent
Every warring element?
Wherefore doth the rosy morn
Rise on Phœbus’ car upborne?
Why should Phœbe rule the night,
Led by Hesper’s guiding light?
What the power that doth restrain
In his place the restless main,
That within fixed bounds he keeps,
Nor o’er earth in deluge sweeps?
Love it is that holds the chains,
Love o’er sea and earth that reigns;
Love—whom else but sovereign Love?—
Love, high lord in heaven above!
Yet should he his care remit,
All that now so close is knit
In sweet love and holy peace,
Would no more from conflict cease,
But with strife’s rude shock and jar
All the world’s fair fabric mar.
Tribes and nations Love unites
By just treaty’s sacred rites;
Wedlock’s bonds he sanctifies
By affection’s softest ties.
Love appointeth, as is due,
Faithful laws to comrades true—
Love, all-sovereign Love!—oh, then,
Ye are blest, ye sons of men,
If the love that rules the sky
In your hearts is throned on high!

– from Consolations of Philosophy, Bk. II.8

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Sep 172015
 

Be not too hard
For life is short
and nothing
is given
to man.
Be not to hard
When he is sold and bought
And must manage as best he can.
Be not to hard
For soon he dies
Often no wiser than he began.
Be not too hard
For life
Is short
And nothing is given
to man.

 Comments Off on Christopher Logue: Be not too hard
Sep 152015
 

The future was a beautiful place, once.
Remember the full-blown balsa-wood town
on public display in the Civic Hall.
The ring-bound sketches, artists’ impressions,
blueprints of smoked glass and tubular steel,
board-game suburbs, modes of transportation
like fairground rides or executive toys.
Cities like dreams, cantilevered by light.
And people like us at the bottle-bank
next to the cycle-path, or dog-walking
over tended strips of fuzzy-felt grass,
or motoring home in electric cars,
model drivers. Or after the late show –
strolling the boulevard. They were the plans,
all underwritten in the neat left-hand
of architects – a true, legible script.
I pulled that future out of the north wind
at the landfill site, stamped with today’s date,
riding the air with other such futures,
all unlived in and now fully extinct.

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Sep 142015
 

Who fain would sow the fallow field,
And see the growing corn,
Must first remove the useless weeds,
The bramble and the thorn.
After ill savour, honey’s taste
Is to the mouth more sweet;
After the storm, the twinkling stars
The eyes more cheerly greet.
When night hath past, the bright dawn comes
In car of rosy hue;
So drive the false bliss from thy mind,
And thou shall see the true.

-from The Consolations of Philosophy, Bk. III. Song 1.

 Comments Off on Boethius: The Thorns of Error