These figures moving in my rhyme, Who are they? Death and Death's dog, Time. - N. Scott Momaday
Reading: Zebra by C.K. Williams
The great American poet C.K. Williams (1947-2105) writes in characteristically very long lines. He was a very engaged poet, for example with the nuclear disaster at Three Miles Island in Tar. He earned many awards and honors (National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize). I read a seemingly simple poem called Zebra: Zebra Kids once carried tin ...
Reading: Lives by Derek Mahon
We travel to Northern Ireland. Derek Mahan (b. 1941)'s poetry has been compared to Louis MacNeice and W.D. Auden. Some critics have called it 'too controlled'. I found this poem worth reading, with an attribution to yet another famous Irish poet: Lives (for Seamus Heaney) First time out I was a torc of gold And ...
Reading: A prayer that will be answered by Anna Kamieńska
Anna Kamieńska (1920-1986) was a Polish poet, literary critic, translator and children's book author. I read a short elegy by her hand, in a
Reading: A Dirge by Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was an American poet and Trappist monk in Kentucky who published over 70 books including a very popular autobiography. I selected a poem about the victims of war (Merton was a social activist) because I like its powerful language: A dirge Some one who hears the bugle neigh will know How cold ...
Reading: For The Anniversary Of My Death by W.S. Merwin
W.S. Merwin (b. 1927) is an American poet who became famous as an anti-war poet in the 1960s. He later developed an interest in buddism and deep ecology and moved to an old banana plantation on Maui, Hawai, which he restored to its original rainforest state. I read a timeless poem about celebrating the
Reading: Strange Fruit by Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) was a giant of Northern Irish poetry. He translated Beowulf into lively, modern language. Heaney was an immensely popular ambassador of poetry. Today, I read 'Strange fruit' - what a muscular and earthly use of language: Strange Fruit Here is the girl's head like an exhumed gourd. Oval-faced, prune-skinned, prune-stones for teeth. ...
Death is not my friend
your grave is paid until the end of the decade when a yellow bulldozer comes rolling on the churchyard gravel somebody is paid to do this, paid. it won't take long, they are discreet your stone becomes the pavement on which children meet or some guy commits a heinous crime and your memory is strung ...
, in which we are all gummy bears competing with each other on the birthday table of a child who has yet to be diagnosed colorblind
Reading: Stagnant water by Wen Yiduo
Chinese poet Wen Yiduo (1899-1946) was assassinated by the Kuomintang. According to many, he was an important figure in Chinese intellectual life. He "Wen never resolved the conflicts that existed within him: The elitist and the proletarian, the scholar and the activist, the traditionalist and the innovator, the personal man and the public man, fought ...
Reading: La fausse morte by Paul Valéry
Paul Valéry (1971-1945) I found a short poem in a remarkable translation by
Reading: The drowned woman by Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes (1930-1998). British giant of poetry. Married twice with ladies who committed suicide, then a third time to live a quiet rural life until his death from cancer. Very prolific. Today I want to read this poem about a drowned woman, published 1957, six years before Plath's suicide at age thirty, which charges it ...
Reading: Beautiful Youth by Gottfried Benn
German poet Gottfried Benn (1886-1956) supported Hitler when he came to power, but changed his mind after the 'night of the long knives'. Still, he was naive enough to join the Wehrmacht, where some officers respected his disaproval of the regime. I don't care too much about the details, but it wasn't pretty. The nazis, ...
Reading: Do not go gentle… by Dylan Thomas
Today a poem that people like myself can't hear anymore, so often has it been repeated and analysed. Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) wrote this for his ailing father. I found a formal analysis online, that is devoid of passion and reminded me why I am doing this. Poetry gets so boring if you must interfere with ...
Reading: Yet to die. Unalone still by Osip Mandelstam
Here is a pretty translation I found of a poem by Osip
Reading: To Death by Anna Akhmatova
Today I read fragment number 8 from the cycle 'Prologue', called 'To death' by one of the most famous Russian poets of the twentieth century, Anna Akmatova (1889-1966) in a translation by A.S. Kline . Translations of a lot of other Akhmatova poetry is also available on his
Great was that chase with the hounds for the unattainable meaning of the world. And now I am ready to keep running When the sun rises beyond the borderlands of death. - Czesław Miłosz
Reading: I hear that the axe has flowered by Paul Celan
Today, let's dive into a mysterious poem by the great Paul Celan, in a translation by Michael Hamburger. I hear that the axe has flowered I hear that the axe has flowered, I hear that the place can't be named, I hear that the bread which looks at him heals the hanged man, the bread ...
Reading: L’Orangerie by Yves Bonnefoy
The French poet Yves Bonnefoy (1923-2016) published major collections of poetry throughout his livetime. He lived, and died, in Paris in 2016. Today, I read a poem headed 'L'Orangerie'. I didn't like the
I created this illness together with histamines and B lymphocytes to you, I imagine the pain worse: you nod and I recoil I have no heavens to curse and shallow is the temptation of the soil
On people who live on in our dreams
I dreamt that the late British American public intellectual Christopher Hitchens was walking next to me. He was bald, like in the last months of his life when he underwent chemotherapy, but appeared in excellent health and was obviously not aware of his impending death. The image was so vivid that I could see the ...
Floating on the invisible surface of a sea I hear music playing on the coastline somewhere to my right. They are playing jazz. I know some time I was expected there but I move away from the shore towards the silent starless sky Everywhere on my left. The shore bends itself towards me. It gives ...