Poetry Tuesday: Daytime Dream

By the marvelously simplistically named Tu Fu (China, 712-770).

In the second month, sleeping a lot, all sleepy and dazed,
Are the nights not shorter?—asleep at midday.
With warm air of plum blossoms, eyes grow drunk,
At sun’s set by the spring sandbar, dreams lead one away.
The gate and path to my old home lie beneath brambles and thorns,
Ruler and officials in the Central Plains lie by wolves and tigers.
When, when, may one attend to farming, the fighting ended,
And the whole world be without officials seeking money?



Poetry Tuesday: Epitaph for Cu Chuimne

Written 1300 years ago in Gaelic, by someone who preferred to remain anonymous. . .
BTW, I thought Cu meant dog; apparently not. And I can’t help but wonder how long it takes to get from the first stanza to the second. . .

Cu Chuimne in his youth
studied half the truth,
then turned from the second half
and studied women.

With the fullness of years
he developed wisdom,
and turned away from women
to complete his studies.


Poetry Tuesday: And Where Are the Graves

By Moses ibn Ezra, back in the halcyon days of the eleventh or twelfth century.

And where are the graves, so many graves
Of all who have died on the earth since the beginning?
Grave tunneling into grave,
Headstone and obelisk crumbled into one dust,
Bodies heaped upon bodies, in motionless orgy—
All sleeping together in deep holes,
Fragments of chalk,
Stained rubies.


Poetry Tuesday: Cossante

From some part of the Iberian peninsula in the thirteenth century, Pero Meogo cuts a mysterious figure.

Tell me, daughter, my pretty daughter,
Why you waited by the cold water.
It was love, alas!

Tell me, daughter, my pretty daughter,
Why you waited by the cold water.
It was love, alas!

I waited, mother, by the cold fountain
While the deer came down the mountain.
It was love, alas!

I waited by the cold river, mother,
To see the deer, and not for any other.
It was love, alas!

You lie, daughter, you lie for your lover,
I never saw deer come down from cover.
It was love, alas!

You lie, daughter, for your lover by the fountain,
I never saw deer going up to the mountain.
It was love, alas!


Poetry Tuesday: The Silver Swanne

Attributed to Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), but they ain’t sure.
In the original Olde English.

The silver swanne, who living had no Note,
When death approacht, unlockt her silent throat.
Leaning her breast against the reedie shore,
Thus sang her first and last, and sung no more:
Farewell all joyes, O death come close mine eyes,
More Geese than Swannes now live, more fooles than wise.


Poetry Tuesday: Six Haiku

Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for so long and hadn’t hit on the shortest form of all yet. These are by Matsuo Basho, who lived in Japan–duh–in the 17th century.
The first one is my fave.
(BTW, before you complain about the wrong number of syllables in each line, remember that these were originally written in Japanese.)

Ancient silent pond
Then a frog jumped right in!
Watersound: kerplunk

The temple bell stops–
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

Such stillness–
The cries of the cicadas
Sink into the rocks.

sings all day
and day not long enough.

Fish shop–
how cold the lips
of the salted bream.

Culture’s beginnings:
from the heart of the country
rice-planting songs.


Poetry Tuesday: Halflife

By Johann Christian Friedrich Holderlin, early 19th century poetry dude.

Yellow pears slope down
And wild roses brim
The rim of a lake
You gorgeous swans
So drunk on kissing
Dunk your heads in,
Sobering holy water.
Poor me where do I go for
Flowers in winter, where
On earth is there any
Sunshine with shade.
The walls stay
Speechless and cold, in wind
Creaks the weathervanes crazy.