The lotus pond is bristling with pink buds;
the nights grow shorter while the empyrean’s gem,
its cloak of frost unloosed, grows bold.
Now come the days resounding with the cuckoo
and sweet with mango scent
to cut the hearts of ladies separated from their lovers.




Sirens, do I not share your discontent
When in the night you far and wide lament?
Sea, I’m like you: machined cries fill my ears.
My vessels sing. They call themselves the years.

Guillaume Apollinaire

the dream

Then night brought the dark over the earth. Sailors
on the sea looked out from their ships to Orion
and the Bear. Both the traveler out there on the road
and the gatekeeper by this time were longing for sleep.
And a heavy slumber enclosed all around that woman
whose children had died, nor was there any dog barking
through the town, nor the echoing voices of men.
Silence held the black darkness…


nights of joy

Ah, many the long night thou and I
Have passed at ease with the wine-crowned cup,
Till the red dawn gleamed in the night-dim sky
And the stars of morn in the east rose up,
And along the west the stars of night
Like defeated armies pressed their flight.

Then the brightest of joys were ours to gain.
With never a care in the world to cloud,
And pleasure untouched by the hand of pain,
Were delight with eternal life endowed:
But alas! that even the fairest boon
Is doomed, like night, to be spent too soon.

Ibn Zaydun

the ransom

Come, let’s find the secret of the clear waters;
I’ll adore you, as a drowned person does the sea.

Those crabs whose hunger is sated on dead flesh
Will be our friendly escorts, in joy.

Queen, I raised to you this shining palace,
From the remains of a vessel shipwrecked at night . . .

The gardens of corals, anemones, and algae
Lose nothing from the autumn’s breath.

Laughing like harlequins in a burlesque,
We’ll mount astride the backs of sharks.

Your eyes will gleam like phosphor
Through the dusk where no dawn laughs.

I am the being your bare breast once charmed,
Unable to hate or love you enough,

Whom you devoured as does your own escort,
Those crabs whose hunger is sated on dead flesh . . .

Come, I’ll draw you the bitter water,
To love your death there in the sea’s night.

Renée Vivien