autumn scene

Under the crescent moon
The earth looms hazily —
Buckwheat flowers.

Matsuo Bashō

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isolation

Autumn deepens —
The man next door, what
Does he do for a living?

Matsuo Bashō

defeat

I who never had a trade
who have felt weak in the face of all competition,
who lost the best claims to life
who scarcely arrive at a place before I want to leave (in the belief
that moving on is a solution)
who have been prematurely disowned and helped in a humiliating way
and ridiculed by abler people

I who cling to walls so that I do not fall completely
who am an object of laughter for myself
who believed that my father was eternal
who have been humiliated by teachers of literature
who was answered with a guffaw
when once I asked how I could help
I who shall never build a home, nor sparkle
nor be a winner in life
who have been abandoned by many people
because I hardly ever speak
who feel shame for acts I have not committed
who have been close to starting to run down the street
who have lost a center I never had
who have become the general laughing-stock
because I live in limbo
who shall find no one to put up with me

who was ignored so that attention should be paid to those
more abject than myself
who shall carry on my whole life like this and who next year
will be mocked many more times for my ridiculous ambitions
who am tired of taking advice from others more lethargic than myself
(,,you’re half asleep, get moving, wake up”)
who shall never be able to travel to India
who have accepted favors and given nothing in return
who wander from one side of the city to the other like a feather
who let myself be carried along by the others

who have no personality nor want one
who stifle my rebelliousness all day long
who have not joined the guerrillas
who have done nothing for my people
who do not belong to the *F A L N and who despair over all these things
and others that would make an endless list
who cannot get out of my prison
who have been turned down everywhere because I am of no use
who to tell the truth have not been able to get married
nor go to Paris nor spend a peaceful day
who refuse to recognize facts
who always dribble over my story

who since birth have been an imbecile and an imbecile twice over
who lost the thread of the speech that was being delivered within me
and have not found it
who do not cry when I want to cry,
who am late for everything

who have been ruined by so many advances and retreats
who yearn for perfect immobility and impeccable promptness
who am neither what I am nor what I am not
who in spite of everything have a satanic pride even though
at certain moments my humility has made me feel no taller than the stones
who have lived for fifteen years within the same circle
I who believed myself predestined for something unusual
and have achieved nothing
who shall never wear a tie
who cannot find my body

who have seen my duplicity in lightning flashes
and have not been able to throw myself to the ground, to sweep everything away
and to create a new freshness out of my indolence, my drifting, my eccentricity,
and obstinately [continue] to commit suicide with whatever my hand touches.
I shall get up from the ground more ridiculous than ever
and go on mocking myself and others until the day of the last
judgement.

Rafael Cadenas

*F A L N: (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional) Armed Forces of National Liberation,
military arm of the National Liberation Front of Venezuela.

poem 174

[Although in vain, she wishes to convert the sufferings of a jealous man
to a rational process.]

What’s this, Alcino? How could your good sense
allow its own defeat by jealousy,
and show the world, in wild extremes of rage,
this spectacle of one gone mad or worse?
Now how has Celia hurt you, if she grieves?
Again, why do you blame Love of deceit
if he has never promised, for all his power,
lasting possession of such loveliness?
Our possession of temporal things
is temporal, my friend; it is abuse
to wish to guard them always as they were.
Your ignorance or your error I accuse,
because both Fate and Love, of things like these,
have given us not ownership, but use.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

poem 166

She resolves the question of which
be the more trying role in conflicting
relationships: to love or to abhor

That Fabio does not love me, though adored,
is grief unmatched by any I have known,
a lesser hurt, though no less bothersome,
is that Silvio loves me, he in turn abhorred.
What patience, sorely tried, would not deplore,
what ringing ear, assaulted, not bemoan,
the ever-plaintive sighs of one disowned,
the arrogance of a vain conqueror.
If I am bored by Silvio’s submission,
it bores Fabio to tears that I submit;
if from Fabio I forever court permission,
Silvio seeks from me what I permit;
if dual torment is to be my one condition,
both of loving and being loved I would be quit.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

the walls, nothing else

Walls, nothing else.
Lifeless, noiseless,
Without harsh words,
Life lies inert.

Livid light escapes
And glass nerves its glass
Against uncertain night,
With its violent squalls.

Once more as it used to be
The house comes back to life;
Times are just the same,
Different eyes see.

Have I shut the door?
Oblivion opens
Its bare rooms for me,
Grey, white, airless.

But nobody sighs.
My hands have nothing
To hold but tears. Silence;
Darkness trembling; nothing.

Luis Cernuda

annie

On the shores of Texas
Between Mobile and Galveston there is
A great garden filled with roses
There is also a villa
Which is one huge rose

A woman passes often
In the garden alone
And when I pace the road edged with lime trees
Our eyes meet

As she is a Mennonite
Her rose trees and her garments have no buttons
My jacket’s missing two
That lady and I observe almost the same rite

Guillaume Apollinaire