Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

January 26, 2007

Li Bai drinking alone (with the moon, his shadow, & 43 translators)

The Tang poet Li Bai–a.k.a. Li Po, Li Bo and the Poet Immortal–left us over 1,000 poems. Besides these, he is also known by the way it is said he died. He supposedly drowned drunk, trying to embrace the moon’s reflection in the Yangtze River.

Below are 41 English translations (from 43 translators (and counting)) to one of his three poems most commonly titled with some variation of “Drinking Alone in the Moonlight” or “Drinking Alone with the Moon.” I have ordered them in rough chronological order, and put the date of each translation, or my best approximation, before it. If you know I am wrong about a date (or anything else, for that matter), please let me know and I will make the correction.
 
 

_____

 
 

by 李 白 (Li Bai) (701-762)

 
 

花間一壺酒
獨酌無相親
舉杯邀明月
對影成三人
月既不解飲
影徒隨我身
暫伴月將影
行樂須及春
我歌月徘徊
我舞影零亂
醒時同交歡
醉後各分散
永結無情遊
相期邈雲漢

 
 

_____

 
 
tr Herbert A. Giles ~1900?
 
 
Last Words
 
 
An arbor of flowers and a kettle of wine:
Alas! In the bowers no companion is mine.
Then the moon sheds her rays on my goblet and me,
And my shadow betrays we’re a party of three!
Thou’ the moon cannot swallow her share of the grog,
And my shadow must follow wherever I jog,
Yet their friendship I’ll borrow and gaily carouse,
And laugh away sorrow while spring-time allows.
See the moon–how she dances response to my song;
See my shadow–it dances so lightly along!
While sober I feel, you are both my good friends;
While drunken I reel, our companionship ends,
But we’ll soon have a greeting without a goodbye,
At our next merry meeting away in the sky.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr W.A.P.Martin ~1900?
 
 
On Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
Here are flowers and here is wine,
But where’s a friend with me to join
Hand in hand and heart to heart
In one full cup before we part?

Rather than to drink alone,
I’ll make bold to ask the moon
To condescend to lend her face
The hour and the scene to grace.

Lo, she answers, and she brings
My shadow on her silver wings;
That makes three, and we shall be.
I ween, a merry company

The modest moon declines the cup,
But shadow promptly takes it up,
And when I dance my shadow fleet
Keeps measure with my flying feet.

But though the moon declines to tipple
She dances in yon shining ripple,
And when I sing, my festive song,
The echoes of the moon prolong.

Say, when shall we next meet together?
Surely not in cloudy weather,
For you my boon companions dear
Come only when the sky is clear.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Ezra Pound, 1915
 
 
Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine
 
 
Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine
I pour alone but with no friend at hand
So I lift the cup to invite the shining moon,
Along with my shadow we become party of three

The moon although understands none of drinking, and
The shadow just follows my body vainly
Still I make the moon and the shadow my company
To enjoy the springtime before too late

The moon lingers while I am singing
The shadow scatters while I am dancing
We cheer in delight when being awake
We separate apart after getting drunk

Forever will we keep this unfettered friendship
Till we meet again far in the Milky Way
 
 

_____

 
 
tr W.J.B.Fletcher, 1919(?)
 
 
We Three
 
 
One pot of wine amid the Flowers
Alone I pour, and none with me.
The cup I lift; the Moon invite;
Who with my shadow makes us three.
The moon then drinks without a pause.
The shadow does what I begin.
The shadow, Moon and I in fere
Rejoice until the spring come in.
I sing: and wavers time the moon.
I dance: the shadow antics too.
Our joys we share while sober still.
When drunk, we part and bid adieu.
Of loveless outing this the pact,
Which we all swear to keep for aye.
The next time that we meet shall be
Beside you distant milky way.
 
 
 
[note: Douglas McNeal points out that this last line may have been written: “Beside yon distant milky way.”]
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Arthur Waley, 1919
 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Florence Ayscough & Amy Lowell, 1921
 
 
Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
 
 
A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing–the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obligated to wander without intention.
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Amy Lowell &/or Florence Ayscough
 
 
Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
 
 
A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing–the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments, we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obliged to wander without intention;
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Shigeyoshi Obata, 1922
 
 
Three with the Moon and his Shadow
 
 
With a jar of wine I sit by the flowering trees.
I drink alone, and where are my friends?
Ah, the moon above looks down on me;
I call and lift my cup to his brightness.
And see, there goes my shadow before me.
Ho! We’re a party of three, I say,–
Though the poor moon can’t drink,
And my shadow but dances around me,
We’re all friends to-night,
The drinker, the moon and the shadow.
Let our revelry be suited to the spring!

I sing, the wild moon wanders the sky.
I dance, my shadow goes tumbling about.
While we’re awake, let us join in carousal;
Only sweet drunkenness shall ever part us.
Let us pledge a friendship no mortals know,
And often hail each other at evening
Far across the vast and vaporous space!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Witter Bynner, 1929(?)
 
 
Drinking Alone with the Moon
 
 
From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me–
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends.
To cheer me through the end of spring . . .
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
. . . Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Robert Payne, 1958
 
 
Drinking Alone under Moonlight
 
 
Holding a jug of wine among the flowers,
And drinking alone, not a soul keeping me company,
I raise my cup and invite the moon to drink with me,
And together with my shadow we are three.
But the moon does not know the joy of drinking,
And my shadow only follows me about.
Nevertheless I shall have them as my companions,
For one should enjoy life at such a time.
The moon loiters as I sing my songs,
My shadow looks confused as I dance.
I drink with them when I am awake
And part with them when I am drunk.
Henceforward may we always be feasting,
And may we meet in the Cloudy River of Heaven.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr William Acker, 1967
 
 
Amidst the Flowers a Jug of Wine
 
 
Amidst the flowers a jug of wine–
I pour alone lacking companionship,
So raising the cup I invite the moon,
Then turn to my shadow which makes three of us.
Because the moon does not know how to drink
My shadow merely follows my body.
The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while,
The practice of mirth should keep pace with spring.
I start a song and the moon begins to reel,
I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely.
While I’m still conscious let’s rejoice with one another,
After I’m drunk let each one go his way.
Let us bind ourselves for ever for passionless journeyings.
Let us swear to meet again far in the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr J.C. Cooper, 1972
 
 
The Little Fete
 
 
I take a bottle of wine and I go to drink it among the flowers.
We are always three–
counting my shadow and my friend the shimmering moon.
Happily the moon knows nothing of drinking,
and my shadow is never thirsty.

When I sing, the moon listens to me in silence.
When I dance, my shadow dances too.
After all festivities the guests must depart;
This sadness I do not know.
When I go home,
the moon goes with me and my shadow follows me.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Irving Yucheng Lo, 1975
 
 
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
 
 
A pot of wine among the flowers:
I drink alone, no kith or kin near.
I raise my cup to invite the moon to join me;
It and my shadow make a party of three.
Alas, the moon is unconcerned about drinking,
And my shadow merely follows me around.
Briefly I cavort with the moon and my shadow:
Pleasure must be sought while it is spring.
I sing and the moon goes back and forth,
I dance and my shadow falls at random.
While sober we seek pleasure in fellowship;
When drunk we go each our own way.
Then let us pledge a friendship without human ties
And meet again at the far end of the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Rewi Alley, 1980
 
 
Alone and Drinking Under the Moon
 
 
Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Barry Hughart, 1984
 
 
from his novel Bridge of Birds
 
 
Among the flowers, with a flask of wine,
I drink all alone–no one to share.
Raising my flask, I welcome the moon,
And my shadow joins us, making a threesome.

As I sing, the moon seems to sway back and forth;
As I dance, my shadow goes flopping about.
As long as we’re sober, we’ll enjoy one another,
And when we get drunk, we’ll go our own ways.

Thus we’ll pursue our own avatars,
And we’ll all meet again in the River of Staaaaaaars!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Burton Watson, 1986
 
 
Drinking Alone Under the Moon
 
 
A jug of wine among flowers
I drink alone, for there’s no companion.
I raise the cup and invite the moon,
With my shadow we become three.
Of course the moon does not understand drinking;
The shadow purposelessly traces my body.
But I accompany the moon and the shadow anyway
The pursuit of pleasures must continue until the spring.
The moon wanders as I sing;
The shadow rattles when I dance.
Still sober, we share our joys;
After drunk, each goes its way.
Permanently joined for feelingless journeys–
Perhaps to the remote Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Innes Herdan, 1987
 
 
Drinking Alone With The Moon
 
 
From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me –
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring….
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
…Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Daniel Palkowski
 
 
Among the flowering vines:
A flask of wine
Alone, I sip..no one to share my reverie
So I raise my cup, beckon the moon come down to dine
And see my shadow flicker forth–
From one is born a band of three!
Since the moon cannot enjoy my drink
And my shadow only follows my weaving hand
These fleeting friends will do, I think
At least while spring still warms the land!
I sing: the moon reels above
I dance: my shadow flickers wildly about
As long as I can stay awake
This party of three will joyfully shout..
Soon drunken sleep will quell our fun
And my trio will separate back into one
Cold hearted friends, we’ll pass each other by
And wave by the light of the river in the sky..
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Elling O. Eide, 1994
 
 
Drinking Alone in the Moonlight
 
 
Beneath the blossoms with a pot of wine,
No friends at hand, so I poured alone;
I raised my cup to invite the moon,
Turned to my shadow, and we became three.
Now the moon had never learned about drinking,
And my shadow had merely followed my form,
But I quickly made friends with the moon and my shadow;
To find pleasure in life, make the most of the spring.

Whenever I sang, the moon swayed with me;
Whenever I danced, my shadow went wild.
Drinking, we shared our enjoyment together;
Drunk, then each went off on his own.
But forever agreed on dispassionate revels,
We promised to meet in the far Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Stephen Owen, 1996
 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
Here among flowers one flask of wine,
with no close friends, I pour it alone.

I lift cup to bright moon, beg its company,
then facing my shadow, we become three.

The moon has never known how to drink;
my shadow does nothing but follow me.

But with moon and shadow as companions a while,
this joy I find must catch spring while it’s here.

I sing, and the moon just lingers on;
I dance, and my shadow flails wildly.

When still sober we share friendship and pleasure,
then, utterly drunk, each goes his own way–

Let us join to roam beyond human cares
and plan to meet far in the river of stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Winifred Galbraith, 1997
 
 
Drinking under the Moon
 
 
The wine among the flowers,
O lonely me!
Ah moon, aloof and shining,
I drink to thee.

Beside me, see my shadow,
Rejoice we three!
Moon, why remote and distant?
Dance with my shade and me.

                                    *

This joy shall last for ever,
Moon, hear my lay,
My shade and I can caper
Like clouds away.

And drunk we are united
(But lone by day)
Let’s fix eternal trysting
In the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Xu Yuanchong, 1997
 
 
Drinking Alone under the Moon
 
 
Amid the flowers, from a pot of wine
I drink alone beneath the bright moonshine,
I raise my cup to invite the Moon who blends
Her light with my Shadow and we’re three friends.
The Moon does not know how to drink her share;
In vain my Shadow follows me here and there.
Together with them for the time I stay
And make merry before spring’s spent away.
I sing and the Moon lingers to hear my song;
My Shadow’s a mess while I dance along.
Sober, we three remain cheerful and gay;
Drunken, we part and each may go his way.
Our friendship will outshine all earthly love,
Next time we’ll meet beyond the stars above.
 
 

_____

 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
Among the flowers a pot of wine,
I drink alone; no friend is by,
I raise my cup, invite the moon,
And my shadow; now we are three.
But the moon knows nothing of drinking,
And my shadow only apes my doings;
Yet moon and shadow shall be my company.
Spring is the time to have fun.
I sing, the moon lingers,
I dance, my shadow tangles,
While I’m still sober, we are gay together,
When I get drunk, we go our different ways.
We pledge a friendship no mortals know,
And swear to meet on heaven’s Silver River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Sun Dayu, 1997
 
 
Drinking Alone under the Moon
 
 
With a jug of wine among the flowers,
I drink alone sans company.
To the moon aloft I raise my cup,
With my shadow to form a group of three.
As the moon doth not drinking ken,
And shadow mine followeth my body,
I keep company with them twain,
While spring is here to make myself merry.
The moon here lingereth while I sing,
I dance and my shadow spreadeth in rout.
When sober I am, we jolly remain,
When drunk I become, we scatter all about.
Let’s knit our carefree tie of the good old day;
We may meet above sometime at the milky way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Sam Hamill, 2000
 
 
Drinking Alone
 
 
I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.

But the moon doesn’t drink,
and my shadow silently follows.

I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

We share life’s joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.

Constant friends, although we wander,
we’ll meet again in the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Vikram Seth, 2001
 
 
Drinking Alone with the Moon
 
 
A pot of wine among the flowers.
I drink alone, no friend with me.
I raise my cup to invite the moon.
He and my shadow and I make three.

The moon does not know how to drink;
My shadow mimes my capering;
But I’ll make merry with them both–
And soon enough it will be Spring.

I sing–the moon moves to and fro.
I dance–my shadow leaps and sways.
Still sober, we exchange our joys.
Drunk–and we’ll go our separate ways.

Let’s pledge–beyond human ties–to be friends,
And meet where the Silver River ends.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Dongbo
 
 
Solitary Moonlight Drunk
 
 
One jug of wine
                a thicket of flowers,
A solitary drunk
                no friends around.
I raise my cup
                urge Moon to drink,
But Moon has no stomach for wine!
Shadow stalks my tettering form,
Moon and Shadow
                my transient chums,
The three of us
                giddy as springtime,
I sing out!
                Startled!
                                Moon stops dead,
I jitterbug!
                Shadow boogies drunkenly.
Sober we’re bosom friends,
                Pickled we scatter.
I yearn to trek to the frigid beyond,
And together plunge into Star River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Paul Rouzer
 
 
Drinking Alone Under the Moon
 
 
Among the flowers, a single jug of wine;
I drink alone. No one close to me.
I raise my cup, invite the bright moon;
facing my shadow, together we make three.
The moon doesn’t know how to drink;
and my shadow can only follow my body.
But for a time I make moon and shadow my companions;
taking one’s pleasure must last until spring.
I sing–the moon wavers back and forth.
I dance–my shadow flickers and scatters.
When I’m sober we take pleasure together.
When I’m drunk, we each go our own ways.
I make an oath to journey forever free of feelings,
making an appointment with them to meet in the Milky Way afar.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Keith Holyoak, 2005
 
 
Drinking Alone Under the Moon
 
 
Alone among the flowers with a jug of wine,
Without a single friend to drink with me,
I lift my glass and invite the bright moon to come
Join in—now the moon, my shadow and I make three.

I know the moon is not a famous drinker,
My shadow’s toast no more than mimicry,
And yet for a little while the three of us
Carouse in springtime camaraderie.

I sing, and the moon sways to and fro in rhythm;
I dance, and my shadow floats in harmony.
Drinking, we share our joys with one another;
After, we’ll need to find them separately.

Let’s meet again, at the end of the Silver River,
And there, my friends, resume our revelry!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping, 2005
 
 
Drinking Alone by Moonlight
 
 
A pot of wine in the flower garden,
but no friends drink with me.
So I raise my cup to the bright moon
and to my shadow, which makes us three,
but the moon won’t drink
and my shadow just creeps about my heels.
Yet in your company, moon and shadow,
I have a wild time till spring dies out.
I sing and the moon shudders.
My shadow staggers when I dance.
We have our fun while I can stand
then drift apart when I fall asleep.
Let’s share this empty journey often
and meet again in the milky river of stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Zhang Tingshen & Wei Bosi, 2005
 
 
Drinking Alone under the Moon
 
 
A jug of wine amidst the flowers:
Drinking alone, with no friend near.
Raising my cup, I beckon the bright moon;
My shadow included, we’re a party of three.
Although the moon’s unused to drinking
And the shadow only apes my every move
For the moment I’ll just take them as they are,
Enjoying spring when spring is here.
Reeling shadow, swaying moon
Attend my dance and song.
Still sober, we rejoice together;
Drunk, each takes his leave.
To seal forever such unfettered friendship
Let’s rendezvous beyond the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr David Landrum 2007
 
 
We Three
 
 
Some wine, a flower garden, I alone
To pour the wine and drink it here, unknown.
I lift the cup aloft and I invite
The Moon to drink with me. To my delight,
She joins me—then my shadow makes us three!
Together we indulge in revelry.
The Moon drinks, and my shadow—what a laugh!—
Now imitates me down the moonlit path!
I dance, my shadow dances with me there.
Still sober, here a moment’s joy we share.
When drunk, we part as friends and say farewell
But make a promise none would dare to tell:
To meet again and drink another day,
Not long from now, beyond the Milky Way!
 
 

_____

 
 
tr 2007
 
 
By Myself Pouring Wine as the Moon Shines
 
 
From the filled jug of wine left within the blossoming bed,
I pour with no love nor family by. Loneliness sets in.

Drawn to its beam, I raise a brimming cup and face the moon–
an encounter that spawns a shadow. We’ve become a trio.

The aloof moon, as of late, has been declining to imbibe
and the faithful shaver, my shadow, follows my every move.

For tonight, anyway, we three will be boon companions.
Turned on, we’ll be stepping out. Spring leaves us too soon.

I try to sing, and the moon starts its little swaying move,
which gets me dancing till my poor shadow’s all confused.

With so much in common, we rouse to the time of our lives
until, in a drunken fog, we let go, dispensed into a cured world.

Ever cast to find passion in an age of fruitless wandering,
our feelings are mutual. I’ll see you in that cosmic cloudy dynasty.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Carol Saba, 2007
 
 
Li Bai’s Solitary Considerations in the Moonlight
 
 
A bottle found on the garden path
is invitation enough for friendless me.
I beckon the moon and smile at my shadow
for I’m no longer alone; now we are three.

The moon is not much of a drinking companion,
my shadow can’t share an original thought;
yet I will spend time with these as my friends
to relish the waning spring eve as I ought.

I sing to the moon, it sways to my song,
I dance with my shadow, it bounces along;
awake, we three are the same as one
but drunk I fall back to being alone.

Eternally bound to the mythic journey
we each have our place on the way to the stars.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Luisetta Mudie, 2007?
 
 
Drinking alone
 
 
Here among the flowers I have a flask of wine
To pour out just for me: no company tonight.
I raise my glass instead to the bright moon,
And my shadow makes the third.

Though the moon declines, says she can’t hold her liquor,
And my shadow dogs me stupidly wherever I turn,
I’ll make do with these strange companions,
And enjoy the fleeting music of spring.

I sing, and the moon wavers, as if at a crossroads.
My shadow dances along with me.
Friends might keep their pleasures sober
Parting once drunkenness sets in

Or they might swear to keep an otherworld feast–
Time-honoured, out beyond the star-cloud river.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Robert S Whilde, 2008?
 
 
Alone; Drinking in the Moonlight
 
 
Amidst the flowers, with a jug of wine,
I drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon
That, and my shadow, makes us three

Sigh. Because the moon cannot drink,
My shadow silently follows.

But the moon has brought my shadow
And I shall travel with them, happy ‘till the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances
When I dance, my shadow dances, too

While I’m conscious let us rejoice together;
After I’m drunk each will go his way.

Let us pledge a friendship few mortals know,
And bind ourselves, for ever, to this journeying;
Let us swear to meet again in the clouded river of the stars
 
 

_____

 
 
tr David Lunde, 2008
 
 
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
 
 
One jar of wine among the flowers,
no dear friend to drink with:
I offer a cup to the moon.
With my shadow there are three of us,
but the moon doesn’t know how to drink,
and my shadow can’t help but follow me.
Still, I’ll make do with their company,
have fun and make the most of spring.
I sing and the moon rolls around,
I dance and my shadow leaps about.
While I’m lively we enjoy each other,
when I get too drunk we go our own ways.
Let’s keep this undemanding friendship
till we join together in the far Cloud River.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Chris Weimer, 2009
 
 
Among the flowers with a jug of wine
I drink alone no friends for company
I lift my cup inviting the bright moon
Its face my shadow and myself make three

Alas the moon does not know how to drink
And all my shadow does is follow me
I beg you moon and shadow stay a while
And play with me before the spring can flee

I sing the moon’s glow flickers too and fro
I dance my shadow falls in frantic play
When sober we shared happiness together
Now drunk farewells are all we’ve left to say

Pledge never ending level headed friendship
We’ll meet again on the far Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Ying Sun, 2009
 
 
Drinking Alone with the Moon
 
 
From a wine pot amidst the flowers,
I drink alone without partners.
To invite the moon I raise my cup.
We’re three, as my shadow shows up.
Alas, the moon doesn’t drink.
My shadow follows but doesn’t think.
Still for now I have these friends,
To cheer me up until the spring ends.
I sing; the moon wanders.
I dance; the shadow scatters.
Awake, together we have fun.
Drunk, separately we’re gone.
Let’s be boon companions forever,
Pledging, in heaven, we’ll be together.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Bill Thomas, 2009
 
 
Off His Face in the Flower Border
 
 
Sitting in the flowers with a bottle of wine,
alone, I pour another glass
and raise it to salute the moon,
who, with my shadow, makes three of us.

The moon’s not drinking;
my shadow’s a copycat;
let’s have fun anyway,
enjoy Spring while we can.

I sing: the moon dances.
I dance: my shadow staggers.
While I drink, they’re my best friends:
when I fall over, they scatter.

Promise me we’ll be friends for ever,
do this again with the stars in heaven.
 
 

_____

 
 
tr Steven D. Owyoung, 2011
 
 
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
 
 
Amidst flowers with a pot of wine,
I drink alone, companionless.
Raising a cup, I invite the bright moon
To add my shadow, and we become three.
But the moon does not drink
And the shadow simply follows me.
Moon and shadow are but fleeting partners,
Yet one must find joy in life.
As I sing, the moon lingers;
I dance, and the shadow stumbles after.
While sober, we shared our happiness;
Now drunk, we go our separate ways.
Forever bound, roaming without a care,
We will meet again beyond the Milky Way.
 
 

_____

 
 

(extra credit)

 
 

George Thorogood’s I Drink Alone

 
 

Duration 5:45

 
 

_____

January 25, 2007

Turning the pages of William Blake’s notebook online.


 
 
Click on William Blake’s notebook above, and visit The British Library’s Sir John Ritblat Gallery. The site is called Turning the Pages™ and uses the Shockwave plug-in to fabulous effect.

Once there, you will have the experience of turning the pages of Blake’s notebook, wherein you will find such things as sketches, and his poem “The Tyger”–in his handwriting, of course. You will be supplied with a magnifying glass, so that you can examine the pages, and the options of listening to and/or reading the British Library’s notes on whatever aspect you are perusing at the moment.
 
 

_____

 
 
The Tyger
 
 
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
 
 

_____

 
 

William Blake (1757-1827)

 
 

_____

January 23, 2007

Amnesty International: Well-known satirist Sakit Zahidov imprisoned following an unfair trial with questionable evidence

   
   
   

   
   
   
from: Amnesty International USA: Azerbaijan: Appeal Cases

24 January 2007; AI Index: EUR 55/002/2007 (Public)
   
   
Well-known satirist Sakit Zahidov imprisoned following an unfair trial with questionable evidence

Sakit Zahidov, a well-known journalist in Azerbaijan, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on questionable charges of possessing illegal drugs. Amnesty International is concerned that the 47-year-old journalist was not given a fair trial and that he may have been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. The organization calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure an immediate retrial in compliance with international fair trial standards.

Sakit Zahidov is a journalist and satirist for the opposition newspaper Azadlıq (‘Freedom’), as well as a poet. He is married with five children. He was arrested on 23 June 2006 on a charge of possession of illegal narcotics with intent to distribute by Interior Ministry personnel belonging to its anti-narcotics department. A statement issued by the Ministry alleged that 10 grams of heroin had been found on Sakit Zahidov’s person and confiscated following his arrest. Sakit Zahidov’s brother and editor-in-chief of the Azadlıq newspaper, Qanimat Zahidov, and other prominent opposition journalists believe that his arrest was politically motivated and that the heroin was planted on Sakit Zahidov in order to incriminate him. Allegedly, a senior officer (his name was provided to Amnesty International) from the Investigation Department for the Fight Against Drug Trafficking planted drugs in Sakit Zahidov’s left pocket after the journalist was forced into a car at the time of the arrest. The alleged planting of incriminating evidence on victims targeted because of their political activities was documented by human rights activists in the context of the 2005 parliamentary elections, when a number of opposition party activists were arrested and two imprisoned on narcotics-related charges.

Sakit Zahidov’s trial opened on 18 August 2006. A large number of public figures, human rights activists and journalists came to attend the trial, but were unable to gain access as the preliminary hearing reportedly took place in a small room with capacity for only 25 people. No recording of the hearing was permitted, and it is therefore difficult for Amnesty International to ascertain what evidence was presented to prove whether Sakit Zahidov had used illegal substances. Amnesty International is not in a position to be able to verify the apparently contradictory medical evidence presented to the trial; however the organization is concerned by a number of procedural irregularities in Sakit Zahidov’s arrest and trial. A number of important witnesses were not called for questioning at his trial and appeal. Furthermore, allegations that Sakit Zahidov’s own testimony was partially omitted from the final protocol used as a record of the trial cannot be substantiated, as reportedly his lawyers have still not had access to this document.

On 4 October, Sakit Zahidov was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in Baku Court on a reduced charge of “possession of drugs for the purpose of personal consumption”. Opposition journalists believe that Sakit Zahidov was convicted on account of the satirical column he wrote for Azadlıq, in which he regularly criticized the Azerbaijani government. In December he was moved to Bailovsk detention facility in Baku to a penal colony in Gobustan region. Amnesty International is concerned that Sakit Zahidov was not given a fair trial and questions the evidence on which the conviction was based. Therefore Amnesty International calls for Sakit Zahidov’s immediate retrial in compliance with international fair trial standards. If it cannot be convincingly proved that he is guilty of a crime, he should be released immediately.
   
   
Background information

Amnesty International is extremely concerned that over the last two years there have been repeated encroachments on the rights of members of civil society, and in particular journalists, to exercise their rights to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.

Amnesty International has documented a number of developments of particular concern. First, the organization has received numerous reports regarding the harassment, including physical abuse, of journalists by law enforcement officials. Second, unidentified actors have carried out a series of violent attacks on journalists which have resulted in life-threatening injuries or even death, with the most recent attack taking place on 25 December 2006. These incidents have not been thoroughly, effectively or independently investigated, and have had a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country. Third, Amnesty International has received information indicating that there has been an increase in the number of politically motivated arrests. Also, the authorities continue to use criminal defamation charges as a means to silence critical views and scrutiny of official wrongdoing. The fact that the victims in virtually all cases are closely linked to opposition parties and independent media suggests a political context to these cases. Also, outspoken independent media outlets have been accused of violating administrative and regulatory standards, with consequences that have regrettably resulted in the disruption of their professional activities.

These developments have taken place despite the fact that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is enshrined in the Azerbaijani Constitution, according to which ‘[E]veryone may enjoy freedom of thought and speech’ (Article 47). Furthermore, in a meeting with the Secretary General of the non-governmental organization Reporters Sans Frontières in April 2005, President Ilham Aliyev reportedly explicitly stated that it was “unacceptable for government officials to attack journalists”. Azerbaijan also has an obligation to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression as a State Party to a number of international treaties, such as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR; Article 10) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR; Article 19).
   
   
Recommended actions:

Please send courteous letters in Azeri, Russian, English, Turkish or your own language.

Express concern about allegations that the criminal charges against Sakit Zahidov were politically motivated and that the heroin was planted on him in order to incriminate him.

Express concern that Sakit Zahidov was not given a fair trial and about the uncertainty surrounding the evidence on which the conviction was based.
State that Amnesty International is calling for an immediate retrial in line with international fair trial standards.

State that the Azerbaijani authorities must ensure that no criminal charges are brought against journalists solely as a result of their lawful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Urge the Azerbaijani government to implement the March 2003 recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the July 2005 recommendations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of Media, in regard to freedom of expression.
   
   
Please send appeals to:


President
President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066 AZERBAIJAN
Fax: + 994 12 492 0625
Email: president@gov.az, office@apparat.gov.az
Salutation: Dear President
   
   

Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
7 Husu Hajiyev Street
Baku 370005, AZERBAIJAN
Fax: + 994 12 492 45 90, +994 12 492 7990
Salutation: Dear Minister
   
   

Procurator General
Zakir Qaralov
Procurator General; 7 Rafibeyli Street; Baku 370001, Azerbaijan
Fax: + 994 12 492 32 30 (if someone answers ask for a fax tone)
Email: prosec@azeri.com
Salutation: Dear Procurator General
   
   
COPIES TO:


Ombudsperson
Prof. Elmira Suleymanova
Office of the Ombudsman
40 Uz. Hajibeyov Street
Baku AZ1000, AZERBAIJAN
Fax: + 994 12 498 8574
Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.az
   
   
You may send copies to diplomatic representatives of Azerbaijan accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND ANY REPLIES FROM THE AUTHORITIES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO THE INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. (Eurasia Team, Europe and Central Asia Programme, Amnesty International; 1 Easton Street; London WC1X ODW; United Kingdom)
   
   

_____

   
   

   
   

_____

January 14, 2007

Sir Francis Bacon on Poetry

 
 

 
 
Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (1561-1626), is known both as the father of inductive reasoning through his Baconian method of scientific observation, and for introducing the essay to the English language. Below are snippets from his essays, through which he gives us his thoughts on poetry.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Truth
 
 
One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum daemonum, because it fireth the imagination; and yet, it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth the hurt; such as we spake of before.
 
 

. . . .

 
 
The poet, that beautified the sect, that was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a pleasure, to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a pleasure, to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling, or pride. Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man’s mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Unity: in Religion
 
 
The quarrels, and divisions about religion, were evils unknown to the heathen. The reason was, because the religion of the heathen, consisted rather in rites and ceremonies, than in any constant belief. For you may imagine, what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief doctors, and fathers of their church, were the poets.
 
 

. . . .

 
 

 
 
Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Agamemnon, that could endure the sacrificing of his own daughter, exclaimed: Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum.

What would he have said, if he had known of the massacre in France, or the powder treason of England? He would have been seven times more Epicure, and atheist, than he was. For as the temporal sword is to be drawn with great circumspection in cases of religion; so it is a thing monstrous to put it into the hands of the common people.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Adversity
 
 
It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other (much too high for a heathen), It is true greatness, to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God. Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei. This would have done better in poesy, where transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing, which figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the world.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Envy
 
 

 
 
They that desire to excel in too many matters, out of levity and vain glory, are ever envious. For they cannot want work; it being impossible, but many, in some one of those things, should surpass them. Which was the character of Adrian the Emperor; that mortally envied poets, and painters, and artificers, in works wherein he had a vein to excel.
 
 

_____

 
 

 
 
from Of Love
 
 
By how much the more, men ought to beware of this passion, which loseth not only other things, but itself! As for the other losses, the poet’s relation doth well figure them: that he that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection, quitteth both riches and wisdom.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Riches
 
 

 
 
The poets feign, that when Plutus (which is Riches) is sent from Jupiter, he limps and goes slowly; but when he is sent from Pluto, he runs, and is swift of foot. Meaning that riches gotten by good means, and just labor, pace slowly; but when they come by the death of others (as by the course of inheritance, testaments, and the like), they come tumbling upon a man.
 
 

_____

 
 

 
 
from Of Fortune
 
 
Certainly there be, whose fortunes are like Homer’s verses, that have a slide and easiness more than the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon’s fortune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminondas. And that this should be, no doubt it is much, in a man’s self.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Building
 
 
Houses are built to live in, and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had. Leave the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to the enchanted palaces of the poets; who build them with small cost.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Studies
 
 
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know, that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores. Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises.
 
 

_____

 
 
from Of Fame
 
 
The poets make Fame a monster. They describe her in part finely and elegantly, and in part gravely and sententiously. They say, look how many feathers she hath, so many eyes she hath underneath; so many tongues; so many voices; she pricks up so many ears.
 
 
This is a flourish. There follow excellent parables; as that, she gathereth strength in going; that she goeth upon the ground, and yet hideth her head in the clouds; that in the daytime she sitteth in a watch tower, and flieth most by night; that she mingleth things done, with things not done; and that she is a terror to great cities. But that which passeth all the rest is: They do recount that the Earth, mother of the giants that made war against Jupiter, and were by him destroyed, thereupon in an anger brought forth Fame. For certain it is, that rebels, figured by the giants, and seditious fames and libels, are but brothers and sisters, masculine and feminine. But now, if a man can tame this monster, and bring her to feed at the hand, and govern her, and with her fly other ravening fowl and kill them, it is somewhat worth. But we are infected with the style of the poets.
 
 

_____

 
 

 
 

_____

January 4, 2007

Misplaced Leisure Water: The Displaced Function of Poetry

   
   
In a Books Inq. blog post from yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s books editor, Frank Wilson, linked to this item in Poetry Magazine:

Does Poetry Have a Social Function?

Here is some of what he wrote:

On New Year’s Eve, one of our dinner guests, a beautiful Chinese woman, read several classical Chinese poems for us. This proved that Auden was right when he said that when you hear real poetry it doesn’t matter if you know the language–you know it is poetry. Our friend also sang, with the voice of an angel, one of Li Bai’s poems. It is this sort of experience of poetry that makes such a question as the one posed on this link seem so banal. The essence of poetry is enchantment, not utility.

What follows, is a response to both Frank Wilson’s blog post and the article on Poetry’s web site, which is a conversation among poets Stephen Burt, Daisy Fried, Major Jackson, and Emily Warn.
   
   

_____

   
   

   
   
I found the answers banal. I was hoping Major Jackson would kick the discussion into gear. Daisy Fried spoke too often about what she considers politically correct for poets to write about. Whereas the poet must write what the poet is given to write, hopefully having gold and not mud, and whether it agrees with Fried’s politics or not.

To Joseph Campbell, the poet of current society was the shaman of the past, still being born as ever. Inspiration, whether something is carried over from primordial soup, communicated by muse-gods, given by God, whether from an extra-sensitivity to the sounds of earth or some yet-charted waves from distant novas exploding, there is a constancy to what shamans and poets produce. Wisdom is wisdom. Art is art. And poetry is poetry.

One social value of fresh poetry, then, is to say in current terms what had been said in classic poetry and scripture. For whatever the current society, it has inevitably misinterpreted its poetry, inevitably bringing about outdated customs and neurotic modes of thinking, but also grave consequences.

Poetry does not have to have such meaning, though. It may have only its sound or, as Frank Wilson points out, the sound and the poet present to speak it. I experienced this listening to Ko Un. As much enjoyment came from his speaking the poems as through the anticipation of what his translator would say in English. This is the music of poetry.

It is not necessary for a poem to contain both wisdom and music. But in some of the best poems, these aspects work together, the rhythm, the sounds, and language.

I want to take up the poem these poets were discussing, “The Mill-Race” by Anne Winters. Here is a link to the poem in full on the page:

PoetryFoundation.org: The Mill-Race

And here is a link to Anne Winters reading it:

New York Times: Books: Audio: Anne Winters Reads From ‘The Displaced of Capital’

I was struck by the “leisure water.” It represents poetry. A complaint within the poem is that the bus riders are losing the poetry of their lives, that even this was being placed at the whim and utility of the current economy and politics. How extraordinarily anti-poetry.

But this “leisure water” also answers the very question of a function of poetry. A thirst sure, but in the poem, the water reflects the sky, and it is in a “glib stretch” (italics mine).

Here are excerpts wherein the poets discuss that poem:
   
   
Daisy Fried:

Anne Winters’s “The Mill-Race,” about office workers in lower Manhattan, contains virtuoso description of the urban scene: workers, weather, light, limos of the bosses, buses of the employees. Though its subject matter and politics are both clear and attractive, content has very little to do with why the poem is extraordinary. Is it a useful poem? I like political poetry; it acknowledges that politics are part of life. Certainly at this historical moment, many of us are hungry for poems that look outward, not just into the self or into what seems like another kind of narcissism, a turning away via the knee-jerk (therefore empty) “avant garde” linguistic gesture. America’s crimes may be forcing poets back into the world. It’s not as though it’s optional. Eventually it becomes political necessity.
   
   
Emily Warn:

“The Mill-Race” by Anne Winters serves as proof text. How can its content not matter? How can one not relate to the drained faces of the women office workers on an evening bus, to their scant hope that, despite their misspent, dwindling hours in the service of Labor, they have preserved a shred of self? . . . .It won’t take us
altogether, we say, the mill-race–it won’t churn us up altogether. We’ll keep
a glib stretch of leisure water, like our self’s self–to reflect the sky.
But we won’t (says the bus rider now to herself). Nothing’s
left over, really, from labor. They’ve taken it all for the mill-race.Will this poem end drudgery? No. Does it disclose the pathos of other human beings and the source of their suffering? Yes. Is it this capacity that will help us, better than ammo or dollars, find a way through these harrowing times? Absolutely.
   
   
Daisy Fried:

Emily Warn seems to argue that content supplies poems’ utility. Content matters–poetry is far more than a formal game–but does not supply utility. Quality does. “The Mill-Race” is good and useful because it presents in extraordinary language an aspect of the human condition, not some false solution having to do with feel-good “relat(ing) to drained faces.” Emily should reread the very lines she quotes if she thinks this poem is about workers “preserv(ing) a shred of self.” The poet is there on the bus, we are there, we are all in the mill-race.
   
   
Emily Warn:

Poems such as “The Mill-Race” make us aware of the social conditions that shape our relations; their language helps us dwell in, puzzle out, and feel the conditions and the relations, no matter how terrible, making a change in them more possible. It is this possibility, this hope, that makes poetry as necessary as a paycheck. “The Mill-Race” ends on the word “salt,” (“but it’s mostly the miller’s curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-/mill, that makes sea, salt”). The salt sting is both our empathy for the workers’ weariness and the fact of their individual lives ground to salt. Over centuries, the poem also says, these workers have raised cathedrals, invented art. The work, “the curse-gift” of the poet, is to tell the story of a person who has no story other than the story of relations. As Celan wrote, “I am you/if I am.”
   
   
Stephen Burt:

Rather, my point is that different poems do different things, and good poems (such as “The Mill-Race”) do many things at once. If there are universal truths about the communicative functions in poems–truths about all good poems, not just about “The Mill-Race”–they are so universal that they do not count as social, by my lights: they concern communication among just two persons at a time, whether the two meet face-to-face, or whether implicit author and genuine reader live thousands of years apart.
   
   

   
   
. . . .
   
   
They never merge the point of the discussion with the point of the poem. It is almost as if the poem worked its way into everyone’s subconscious, but they never worked out why. No one mentioned that this poem is about a social function poetry can have. They simply used it as if it functioned.

This is part of how we participate in the art or poetry that we make of the sounds, clay, landscapes that we have. We take sounds and make music, fields and make golf courses, food and make fine cuisine, words and make poems, and so forth–and we use them in our lives. And just as sometimes the poet cannot fulfill the muse, the reader does not either. Thus more poetry needed.

I went to the web to get support for this point, and found it made in a most unlikely way by Dan Chiasson here:

Slate: The Anne Winters Challenge: Should a Marxist poet be stylistically ornate?

He quotes the last stanza:

It’s not a water-mill really, labor. It’s like the nocturnal
paper-mill pulverizing, crushing each fiber of rag into atoms,
or the workhouse tread-mill, smooth-lipped, that wore down a London of doxies and sharps,
or the flour-mill, faërique, that raised the cathedrals and wore out hosts of dust-demons,
but it’s mostly the miller’s curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-
mill, that makes the sea, salt.

Here is the question he is asking:

What to do about this “faerique in the flour mill” issue–the frisson between subject matter and poetic language?

Aha! Nice. Here we have a discussion of the disconcert between the language in the poem and the lives of the bus riders. That’s what’s missing in their lives, the poetry. Specifically this poem. Point made in the asking of a question. Thank you, Mr. Chiasson.

But here is what Chiasson says:

But when you start bringing these kinds of objections up–when they start interfering with your enjoyment of works of art—you realize what an impoverished discussion we’ve all been having, these past years, about art and its connection to experience. We’ve come to imagine that there needs to be a traceable, obvious connection between “style” in art and subject matter. An art of the people better have lots of swear-words and spitting in it. And honking horns. An art of the intellect should be about Big Ideas. An art of theoretical density has got to be unintelligible. An art of great beauty should mention snow fields and sunsets. Art by Southerners should be full of dirt-roads and hounds. If this sounds parodic, read around in contemporary literature with my inventory in mind. Contemporary literature is parodic.

Oh well.

By the way, the poets took up the idea of the “Hard-working Roto Rooter reading poetry.” But none of them mentioned that it is that guy writing it.
   
   

_____

   
   

   
   

_____

January 1, 2007

from Poem a Day: "New Year Snow" by Frances Horovitz

Filed under: dead poets, English poets, Frances Horovitz, lyric poetry, poems, poetry, poets — Clattery MacHinery @ 7:35 pm


For Christmas, I received two super poetry books, not yet in my library. My sister gave me one with the poem below, “New Year Snow” by Frances Horovitz. It is the poem for January 1st in: Poem A Day, Volume 3: 366 poems, old and new–one for each day of the year.

The book is edited by Retta Bowen, Nick Temple, Nicholas Albery, and Stephanie Wienrich, and published by Zoland Books. I am looking forward to reading the book as designed–throughout the year.

Also below, is the commentary on the page about the poet, an excellent feature of the book.
 
 
 

_____

 
 
 
by Frances Horovitz (1938-1983)
 
 
New Year Snow
 
 
For three days we waited,
a bowl of dull quartz for sky.
At night the valley dreamed of snow,
lost Christmas angels with dark-white wings
flailing the hills.
I dreamed a poem, perfect
as the first five-pointed flake,
that melted at dawn:
a Janus-time
to peer back at guttering dark days,
trajectories of the spent year.
And then snow fell.
Within an hour, a world immaculate
as January’s new-hung page.
We breathe the radiant air like men new-born.
The children rush before us.
As in a dream of snow
we track through crystal fields
to the green horizon
and the sun’s reflected rose.
 
 

_____

 
 

 
 
Frances Horovitz read English and Drama at Bristol University and trained as an actress at RADA. After graduating, she concentrated mainly on reading poetry and only began to write herself following her marriage to the poet Michael Horovitz in 1964. Her first pamphlet was published in 1967, followed by The High Tower in 1970. Her son Adam, now also a poet, was born in 1971 and the Horovitzs moved to a remote offshoot of the Slad Valley in Gloucestershire, which became a source of inspiration for many of the poems in her third book. It is from this book that “New Year Snow” is taken. She married Roger Garfitt shortly before her death in October 1983.
 
 

_____

Blog at WordPress.com.