elegy

Let us gather, let us gather the rose in the morning of life;
at least breathe the flowers of fleeting Springs;
let us abandon our hearts to chaste pleasures;
let us love without limit, O my only friend!

When the boatman beaten by angry waves
sees his frail bark threatened by shipwreck,
he turns his glance to the shores he has left
and regrets too late the land’s leisure.
Ah! how he then wishes he had never forsaken his country or his gods,
passing obscure days without danger or fame
beneath the roof of his fathers near the beloved objects
that are present in his memory!

So man, bent beneath the weight of years,
weeps for his sweet Spring that cannot return.
,,Ah! give me back, he says, those hours I profaned!
O gods! I forgot to enjoy them in their season.’’

He speaks; death replies; and those gods to whom he prays,
pushing him into the grave without relenting,
do not let him stoop again to pick up those flowers
which he has not known how to gather.
O my beloved, let us love one another!
And let us laugh at the cares that cradle mortal men.
For the foolish lure of empty smoke
half their days, alas!
Are used up on neglect of the real wealth.
Let us not envy their sterile pride;
let us leave far-off hopes to the masters of men!
For us, uncertain of our hour,
let us hasten to empty life’s cup
while it is in our hands.

Whether the bays crown us and our names
are inscribed on marble or brass in the bloody annals of proud Bellona;
or whether love adorns our humble brows
with the simple flowers harvested by beauty,
we shall all be cast away on the same shore:
at the moment of shipwreck what does it matter
whether we have cleft the air on a famous ship
or timidly skirted the sea-shore,
the sole traveler on a light bark ?

Alphonse de Lamartine

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myth

Through shallow fields
of dwarf bamboo
clinging to our waist
we struggle.
We cannot soar through the sky
but must go on foot.

We go through the sea,
and through the water
clinging to our waists
we struggle.
Like watergrasses
on a broad river,
we hesitate in the sea.

The beach plover
does not fly over the beach
but follows the rocky strand.

Yamato Takeru

coldness

Sunset on the sea:
The voices of the ducks
Are faintly white…

Matsuo Bashō

winter

Darkening sea:
a mallard’s call
sounds dimly white.

Matsuo Bashō

oracle

To depart while seated or standing is all one.
All I shall leave behind me
Is a heap of bones.
In empty space I twist and soar
And come down with the roar of thunder
To the sea.

Koho Kennichi

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