Sunday, 31 March 2013



You tell me that silence
is nearer to peace than poems
but if for my gift
I brought you silence
(for I know silence)
you would say
This is not silence
this is another poem
and you would hand it back to me. 

Leonard Cohen (1961),
The Spice-Box of Earth

London: Jonathan Cape, p.11

Thursday, 28 March 2013

the language of flowers and silent things

Au-dessus des étangs, au-dessus des vallées,
Des montagnes, des bois, des nuages, des mers,
Par delà le soleil, par delà les éthers,
Par delà les confins des sphères étoilées,

Mon esprit, tu te meus avec agilité,
Et, comme un bon nageur qui se pâme dans l'onde,
Tu sillonnes gaiement l'immensité profonde
Avec une indicible et mâle volupté.

Envole-toi bien loin de ces miasmes morbides;
Va te purifier dans l'air supérieur,
Et bois, comme une pure et divine liqueur,
Le feu clair qui remplit les espaces limpides.

Derrière les ennuis et les vastes chagrins
Qui chargent de leur poids l'existence brumeuse,
Heureux celui qui peut d'une aile vigoureuse
S'élancer vers les champs lumineux et sereins;

Celui dont les pensers, comme des alouettes,
Vers les cieux le matin prennent un libre essor,
— Qui plane sur la vie, et comprend sans effort
Le langage des fleurs et des choses muettes!

Charles Baudelaire, Fleurs du mal

Above the ponds, above the valleys,
Mountains, woods, clouds, and seas,

Beyond the sun, beyond the heavens,
Beyond the confines of starry spheres,
My spirit, you roam with agility,
And, like a good swimmer bracing the waves,
You soar happily into profound immensity
With exquisite male delight.

Fly, far away from these noxious surroundings;
And cleanse yourself in the pure air above,
And drink, the clear fire that fills lucid spaces,
As you would a pure and divine liqueur.

Behind the nuisances, and the vast chagrins
Amassing with their weight our bewildered existence,
Happy is he who can with a vigorous wing
Propel towards the luminous and serene realms;

He whose thoughts, like larks,
Free, in the morning take flight,
— Hover over life, and understand with ease
The language of flowers and silent things!

translated by Said Leghlid 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013



I sing because the instant exists
and my life is complete.
I am neither happy nor sad: 
I am a poet.

Kin to fleeting things,
I feel neither pleasure nor torment.
I cross night and day 
In the wind.

Whether I collapse or I build, 
Whether I last or am unmade,
I do not know. I do not know 
Whether I pass or stay.

I know I sing; the song is all;
And the rhythm’d wing’s blood is eternal.
I know I will be mute one day 
— and that is all. 

Cecília Meireles (before 1937)

Thursday, 21 March 2013



Ich bin wie eine Fahne von Fernen umgeben. 
Ich ahne die Winde, die kommen, und muß sie leben, 
während die Dinge unten sich noch nicht rühren: 
die Türen schließen noch sanft, und in den Kaminen 
ist Stille; 
die Fenster zittern noch nicht, und der Staub ist noch 

Da weiß ich die Stürme schon und bin erregt wie das 
Und breite mich aus und falle in mich hinein 
und werfe mich ab und bin ganz allein 
in dem großen Sturm. 

Rainer Maria Rilke (1906), Das Buch der Bilder 

I am like a flag in the center of open space.

I sense ahead the wind which is coming, and must live
it through.
while the things of the world still do not move:
the doors still close softly, and the chimneys are full
of silence,
the windows do not rattle yet, and the dust still lies down.

I already know the storm, and I am troubled as the sea.
I leap out, and fall back,
and throw myself out, and am absolutely alone
in the great storm.

Translated by Robert Bly 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


'Come here, let me share a bit of wisdom with you.
Have you given much thought to our mortal condition?
Probably not. Why would you? Well, listen.
All mortals owe a debt to death.
There's no one alive
who can say if he will be tomorrow.
Our fate moves invisibly! A mystery.
No one can teach it, no one can grasp it.
Accept this! Cheer up! Have a drink!
But don't forget Aphrodite--that's one sweet goddess.
You can let the rest go. Am I making sense?
I think so. How about a drink.
Put on a garland. I'm sure
the happy splash of wine will cure your mood.
We're all mortal you know. Think mortal.
Because my theory is, there's no such thing as life,
it's just catastrophe.'

Anne Carson, Grief  lessons: four plays


Studying the sky

'Once I was beset by anxiety but I pushed the fear away by studying the sky, determining when the moon would come out and where the sun would appear in the morning.'

 Louise Bourgeois

Sunday, 17 March 2013


'Always comforting to assume that there is a secret behind what torments you.'

Anne Carson, Nox

Friday, 15 March 2013

'the quiet hum of knowing'

Some days I think I know things

'Often, truth sounds like a sigh,
release of knowing previously
held in the soles of the feet.
Visions come, uninvited guests
overstaying at a party. I am
barely welcome myself. If I
gasp and can then predict 
your death, who wants to know?
Who would rather not go on
eating canapés, spilling last 
year's wine, watching a rose
bloom on the white carpet
pretending it says nothing?
I am not stupid. What marks
a woman is silence, the quiet
hum of knowing behind
conversation, the soft wind
of history held prisoner inside.'

Rhonda Douglas (2008), Some days I think I know things: the Cassandra poems.
Winnipeg/Manitoba: Signature Editions, p. 45

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

corazón espinado

Corazón espinado by Santana

click here for music
click here for lyrics

a kiss

'The stars were beginning to show. How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.'

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

a question

'Why do we remember the past but not the future?'

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Monday, 11 March 2013

the weight of woe

'But I shall bear the weight of woe, but I
Shall shed the ceaseless tear; for sad the dawn,
and sad the day shall rise when thou art slain!
Saddest, while Time athwart the deep serene
Rolls on the silver circle of the moon.

Thee too I weep, no more thy youthful form
Shall blossom with new beauties, now no more
Thy brother's arms shall twine around your neck
In strict embrace, but to the dragon's heart
Swift shalt thou send thy shafts entipped with flame,
And round his bosom weave the lim'ed nets
Of love; but loathing shall possess thy soul,
Thy blood shall flow upon they father's hearth,
And low the glories of thine head shall lie.'


Lycophron, Cassandra
Translated from the original Greek of Lycophron and illustrated
with notes by Viscount Royston.


Cambridge : Printed by R. Watts at the University Press, 1806, p.24 

Saturday, 9 March 2013


'My dreams are over, I have ceased to cry
Against the fate that made men love my mouth
And left their spirits all too deaf to hear
The little songs that echoed through my soul.
I have no anger now.  The dreams are done;
Yet since the Greeks and Trojans would not see
Aught but my body's fairness, till the end,
In all the islands set in all the seas,
And all the lands that lie beneath the sun,
Till light turn darkness, and till time shall sleep,
Men's lives shall waste with longing after me,
For I shall be the sum of their desire,
The whole of beauty, never seen again.
And they shall stretch their arms and starting, wake
With "Helen!" on their lips, and in their eyes
The vision of me.  Always I shall be
Limned on the darkness like a shaft of light
That glimmers and is gone.'

Sara Teasdale, Helen of Troy

Saturday, 2 March 2013


'Take joy in your digressions. Because that is where the unexpected arises.' 

Massumi, Brian, 2002. Parables for the virtual. Durham & London: Duke University Press, p.18