L’art

Yes, the work of art emerges
more beautiful from a form that
               resists working,
verse, marble, onyx, enamel.

No false hindrances!
But to march straight,
               put on,
O Muse, a narrow buskin.

Shame on the easy rhythm,
like a shoe that is too large,
               of the kind
that every foot takes off and puts on!

Sculptor, reject
clay moulded by
               the thumb
when the mind hovers elsewhere!

Struggle with Carrara marble,
with the hard,
               rare Parian,
keepers of the pure outline;

Borrow from Syracuse
its bronze where the proud
               enchanting
stroke is firmly marked;

With a delicate hand
hunt the profile
               of Apollo
in a vein of agate.

Painter, flee the water-colour,
and fix too delicate
               a tint
in the enameller’s oven.

Create blue sirens,
writhing their tails
               in a hundred ways,
create the monsters of heraldry;

Create the Virgin and her Jesus
in their three-lobed halo,
               create the globe
with the cross above it.

Everything passes. – Only strong art
possesses eternity:
               The bust
outlives the city.

And the austere medal
found by a labourer beneath
               the earth
reveals an emperor.

The gods themselves die.
But sovereign lines of verse
               remain
stronger than brass.

Carve, file, and chisel;
Let your hazy dream
               be sealed
in the hard block!

Théophile Gautier

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sonnet XXV

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlookt for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye;
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil’d,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.

William Shakespeare

delirio

Fragmented evening,
field in silence.
Bee-eaters in flight,
a sigh.
Backcloth of blue and white
deliriums.
The landscape opens
its arms wide.
All too much,
Dear God!

Federico Garcia Lorca

sonnet XXIV

Mine eye hath play’d the painter, and hath stell’d
Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is best painter’s art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies;
Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

William Shakespeare

composition in drunkenness

I’m drunk – my joy is boundless –
In every way better than not being drunk:
Each time I move it’s a dance,
Each time I speak it’s a poem.

Chang Yüeh

returning to gardens and fields to dwell

From my youth I’ve lacked the worldly tune,
by nature I have loved hills and mountains.
Accidentally I fell into the dusty net of the world,
and thirteen years passed at once.
The bird in a trammel longs for its former forest;
a fish in a pond misses its native deep.
I opened up wasteland at the southern wilds,
adhering to the simple, I returned to the fields.
On a square plot less than two acres,
my thatched hut is eight or nine measures.
Elms and willows shade the back yard;
peach and plum cover the front of the hall.
Dim in the distance, is a remote village,
lingering vaguely, the country smoke.
A dog barks deep in the alley,
a cock crows atop a mulberry tree.
My home and yard have no dusty goods—
the empty room has sufficient leisureliness.
For too long I have been confined in a cage,
now I’ve come back to naturalness.

Tao Yuanming

sonnet XXIII

As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who, with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharged with burden of mine own love’s might.
O, let my books be, then, the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast;
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more exprest.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.

William Shakespeare