The Perceval Press Anthology of Verse 2007

December 2007

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The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the
rigidity of the system of ideological control - "indoctrination," we
might say - exercised through the mass media.
-Noam Chomsky


Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.
-Noam Chomsky


All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system,
there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless,
that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
-Noam Chomsky


Trouble no man about his religion - respect him in his view of the Great Spirit... Treat with respect such things as he holds sacred. Do not force your religion on anyone.
-Red Jacket


Dos cuerpos
Dos cuerpos frente a frente
son a veces dos olas
y la noche es océano.

Dos cuerpos frente a frente
son a veces dos piedras
y la noche desierto.

Dos cuerpos frente a frente
son a veces raíces
en la noche enlazadas.

Dos cuerpos frente a frente
son a veces navajas
y la noche relámpago.

Dos cuerpos frente a frente
son dos astros que caen
en un cielo vacío.
-Octavio Paz


Thank you, government of Australia, for finally joining all nations except the United States in doing the very least for our planet's future by ratifying the Kyoto protocol
-Viggo Mortensen


Dissent is the highest form of patriotism
-Howard Zinn


If love does not know how to give and take without restrictions, it is not love, but a transaction that never fails to lay stress on a plus and a minus.
-Emma Goldman


Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.
-Niels Bohr


Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
-Rainer Maria Rilke


There are some things so serious you have to laugh at them.
-Niels Bohr


Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.
-Thomas Merton


Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.
-Thomas Merton


Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.
-Thomas Merton


You can't have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.
-Charles F. Kettering


God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.
-Isak Dinesen


Nothing has changed.
The body is susceptible to pain,
it must eat and breathe air and sleep,
it has thin skin and blood right underneath,
an adequate stock of teeth and nails,
its bones are breakable, its joints are stretchable.
In tortures all this is taken into account.

Nothing has changed.
The body shudders as it shuddered
before the founding of Rome and after,
in the twentieth century before and after Christ.
Tortures are as they were, it's just the earth that's grown smaller,
and whatever happens seems right on the other side of the wall.

Nothing has changed. It's just that there are more people,
besides the old offenses new ones have appeared,
real, imaginary, temporary, and none,
but the howl with which the body responds to them,
was, is and ever will be a howl of innocence
according to the time-honored scale and tonality.

Nothing has changed. Maybe just the manners, ceremonies, dances.
Yet the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same.
The body writhes, jerks and tries to pull away,
its legs give out, it falls, the knees fly up,
it turns blue, swells, salivates and bleeds.

Nothing has changed. Except for the course of boundaries,
the line of forests, coasts, deserts and glaciers.
Amid these landscapes traipses the soul,
disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away,
alien to itself, elusive, at times certain, at others uncertain of its own existence,
while the body is and is and is
and has no place of its own.
-Wislawa Szymborska


Hay cementerios solos,
tumbas llenas de huesos sin sonido,
el corazon pasando un tunel
oscuro, oscuro, oscuro,
como un naufragio hacia adentro nos morimos.
como ahogarnos en el corazon,
como irnos cayendo desde la piel al alma.

Hay cadaveres,
hay pies de pegajosa losa fria,
hay la muerte en los huesos,
como un donido puro,
como un ladrido sin perro,
saliendo de ciertas campanas, de ciertas tumbas,
creciendo en la humedad com el llanto o la lluvia.

Yo veo, solo, a veces,
ataudes a vela
zarpar con difuntos palidos, con mujeres de trenzas muertas,
con panaderos blancos como angeles,
con ninas pensativas casadas con notarios,
ataudes subiendo el rio vertical de los muertos,
el rio morado,
hacia arriba, con las velas hinchadas por el sonido
de la muerte,
hinchadas por el sonido silencioso de la muerte.

A lo sonoro llega la muerte
como un zapato sin pie, como un traje sin hombre,
llega a golppear con un anillo sin piedras y sin dedo,
llega a gritar sin boca, sin lengua,
sin garganta,
Sin embargo sus pasos suenan
y su vestido suena, callado como un arbol.

Yo no se, yo conozco poco, yo apenas veo,
pero creo que su canto tiene color de violetas humedas,
de violetas acostumbradas a la tierra,
porque la cara de la muerte es verde,
con la aguda humedad de una hoja de violeta
y su grave color de invierno exasperado.

Pero la muerte va tambien por el mundo vestida de escoba,
lame el suelo buscando difuntos,
la muerte esta en la escoba,
es la lengua de la muerte buscando muertos,
es la aguja de la muerte buscando hilo.

La muerte esta en los catres:
en los colchones lentos, en las frazadas negras
vive tendida, y de repente sopla:
sopla un sonido oscuro que hincha sabanas,
y hay camas navegando a un puerto
en donde esta esperando, vestida de almirante.
-Pablo Neruda


A Walk
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated from the German by Robert Bly)


Yo siento por la luz un amor de salvaje.
Cada pequeña llama me encanta y sobrecoge.
¿No será cada lumbre un cáliz que recoge
el calor de las almas que pasan en su viaje?

Hay unas pequeñitas, azules, temblorosas,
lo mismo que las almas taciturnas y buenas.
Hay otras casi blancas: fulgores de azucenas.
Hay otras casi rijas: espíritu de rosas.

Yo respeto y adoro la luz como si fuera
una cosa que vive, que siente que medita,
un ser que nos contempla transformado en hoguera.

Así, cuando yo muera he de ser a tu lado
una pequeña llama de dulzura infinita
para tus largas noches de amante desolado.
-Delmira Agustini


Us two in the room; my dog and me.... Outside a fearful storm is howling.

The dog sits in front of me, and looks me straight in the face.

And I, too, look into his face.

He wants, it seems, to tell me something. He is dumb, he is without words,
he does not understand himself--but I understand him.

I understand that at this instant there is living in him and in me the same
feeling, that there is no difference between us. We are the same; in each
of us there burns and shines the same trembling spark.

Death sweeps down, with a wave of its chill broad wing....

And the end!

Who then can discern what was the spark that glowed in each of us?

No! We are not beast and man that glance at one another....

They are the eyes of equals, those eyes riveted on one another.
And in each of these, in the beast and in the man, the same life huddles up
in fear close to the other.
-Ivan S. Turgenev


I was returning from hunting, and walking along an avenue of the
garden, my dog running in front of me.

Suddenly he took shorter steps, and began to steal along as though
tracking game.

I looked along the avenue, and saw a young sparrow, with yellow about
its beak and down on its head. It had fallen out of the nest (the wind was
violently shaking the birch-trees in the avenue) and sat unable to move,
helplessly flapping its half-grown wings.

My dog was slowly approaching it, when, suddenly darting down from a
tree close by, an old dark-throated sparrow fell like a stone right before
his nose, and all ruffled up, terrified, with despairing and pitiful
cheeps, it flung itself twice towards the open jaws of shining teeth.

It sprang to save; it cast itself before its nestling ... but all its
tiny body was shaking with terror; its note was harsh and strange.

with fear, it offered itself up!

What a huge monster must the dog have seemed to it! And yet it could not
stay on its high branch out of danger.... A force stronger than its will
flung it down.

My Trésor stood still, drew back.... Clearly he too recognised this force.

I hastened to call off the disconcerted dog, and went away, full of reverence.

Yes; do not laugh. I felt reverence for that tiny heroic bird, for its
impulse of love.

Love, I thought, is stronger than death or the fear of death. Only by
it, by love, life holds together and advances.
-Ivan S. Turgenev


(for Floyd Red Crow Westerman)
Come thou, thou last one, whom I recognize,
unbearable pain throughout this body's fabric:
as I in my spirit burned, see, I now burn in thee:
the wood that long resisted the advancing flames
which thou kept flaring, I now am nourishinig
and burn in thee.

My gentle and mild being through thy ruthless fury
has turned into a raging hell that is not from here.
Quite pure, quite free of future planning, I mounted
the tangled funeral pyre built for my suffering,
so sure of nothing more to buy for future needs,
while in my heart the stored reserves kept silent.

Is it still I, who there past all recognition burn?
Memories I do not seize and bring inside.
O life! O living! O to be outside!
And I in flames. And no one here who knows me.
-Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Cliff Crego)

Hvad var det dog, der skete?
Mit vinterfrosne hjertes kvarts
må smeltes ved at se det
den første dag i marts.
Hvad gennembrød den sorte jord
og gav den med sit søblå flor
et stænk af himlens tone?
Den lille anemone,
jeg planted der i fjor.

På Lolland jeg den hented,
et kærtegn fra min fødeø.
Så gik jeg her og vented
og tænkte, den må dø;
den savner jo sit skovkvarter,
sin lune luft, sit fede ler,
i denne fjendske zone
forgår min anemone;
jeg ser den aldrig mer.

Nu står den der og nikker
så sejersæl i Jyllands grus
ukuelig og sikker
trods ensomhed og gus,
som om alverdens modgang her
har givet den et større værd,
en lille amazone
og dog min anemone
som søens bølge skær.

Hvad er dog det der skete?
Mit hjerte koldt og hårdt som kvarts
der smelter ved at se det
den første dag i marts.
Jeg tænkte:"Evigt skiltes ad
min sjæl og glæden", da jeg sad
i vintrens grumme done. (fælde)
Nu gør min anemone
mit hjerte atter glad.

For denne rene farve
den er mig som en vårens dåb,
den lar mig nyfødt arve
en evighed af håb.
Så bøjer jeg mig da mod jord
og stryger ømt dit silkeflor,
en flig af nådens trone.
Du lille anemone,
hvor er din Skaber stor!"
-Kaj Munk
(Sidste digte. Samlerens forlag, 1945)

-Rainer Maria Rilke Sonnets to Orpheus (FIRST PART)

Da stieg ein Baum. O reine Übersteigung!
O Orpheus singt! O hoher Baum im Ohr.
Und alles schwieg. Doch selbst in der
ging neuer Anfang, Wink und Wandlung vor.

Tiere aus Stille drangen aus dem klaren
gelösten wald von Lager und Genist;
und da ergab sich, daß sie nicht aus List
und nicht aus Angst in sich so leise waren,

sondern aus Hören. Brüllen, Schrei, Geröhr
schien klein in ihren Herzen. Und wo eben
kaum eine Hütte war, dies zu empfangen,

ein Unterschlupf aus dunkelstem Verlangen
mit einem Zugang, dessen Pfosten beben,--
da schufst du ihnen Tempel im Gehör.

A tree has risen. O pure transcendence!
O Orpheus sings! O high tree of the ear.
And all was still. Yet in the stillness
new beginning, summoning, and change sprang

From the silence, creatures pushed out
of the clear, open forest from lair and nest;
and then it happened, that they were not
so quiet because of cunning or fear,

but because of listening. Shrieks, cries, roars
seemed small in their hearts. And where once
scarcely a hut stood to receive this,

a crude shelter made of the darkest of longings
with trembling posts at its entrance way, -
there you created a temple in their hearing.

Ein Gott vemags. Wie aber, sag mir, soll
ein Mann ihm folgen durch die schmale Leier?
Sein Sinn ist Zweispalt. An der Kreuzung zweier
Herzwege steht kein Tempel für Apoll.

Gesang, wie du ihn lehrst, ist nicht Begehr,
nicht Werbung um ein endlich noch erreichtes;
Gesang ist Dasein. Für den Gott ein Leichtes.
Wann aber sind wir? Und wann wendet er

an unser Sein die Erde und diem Sterne?
Dies ists nicht, Jüngling, daß du liebst, wenn auch
die Stimme dann den Mund dir aufstößt,--lerne

vergessen, daß du aufsangst. Das verrint.
In Wahrheit singen, ist ein andrer Hauch.
Ein Hauch um nichts. Ein Wehn im Gott. Ein wind.


A god can do it. But how, tell me, shall
a man follow him through the narrow lyre?
His senses are split. At the crossing of two
heartways stands no temple for Apollo.

Song, as you teach him, is not desire,
not the touting of some final achievement;
Song is Being. Easy for a god.
But when are we to be? And when does he turn

towards our existence the Earth and the Stars?
This is nothing, young one, that you love, when
the voice pushes the mouth open,- learn

to forget such murmurings. They will pass.
True singing is different kind of breath.
A breath around nothing. A sigh in a god. A wind...


Maybe when you die you come before a big, bearded man on a big throne, and you ask "Is this heaven?", and he says "Heaven? You just came from there.
-Kirk Douglas


Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Daily Reminders for Democratic Candidates:
-"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
-John F. Kennedy, 12 September, 1962

-Impeach, Remove, Jail. Get it done.


The Round
Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
"Light splashed . . ."

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.
- Stanley Kunitz


Touch Me
Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.
- Stanley Kunitz


If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.
-Charles Dickens


I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don't trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.
-Charles Dickens


Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.
-Charles Dickens


There is left to me
no stronger wish
than to rise
in search of a lost cry.

With or without
the help of a
paltry lantern
in every corner of the earth
in every cranny of the sky.

The cry that rose
one midnight
from my life
from I know not what neglected need,
and escaped into the shrouded skies...

All you gates of the universe!
assist me
in finding my lost cry!
-Ahmad Shamlu
(translated from farsi by Firoozeh Papan-Matin& Arthur Lane)


Having begun in thought there
in that factual embodied wonder
what was lost in the emptied lovers
patience and mind I first felt there
wondered again and again what for
myself so meager and finally singular
despite all issued therefrom whether
sister or mother or brother and father
come to love's emptied place too late
to feel it again see again first there
all the peculiar wet tenderness the care
of her for whom to be other was first fate.
-Robert Creeley


Unhappy German nation, how do you like the Messianic r�le allotted to you,
not by God, nor by destiny, but by a handful of perverted and bloody-minded men?
-Thomas Mann
("This War", 1939)


Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.
-Carl Jung


The Traveller
Into the forest again
whence all roads depend
this way and that
to lead him back.
Upon his shoulders
he places boulders,
upon his eye
the high wide sky.
-Robert Creeley


Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o'erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep's leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers' long discourse;
Much speed hath some defence,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.
-Thomas Campion


Cities shall suffer siege and some shall fall,
But man's not taken. What the deep heart means,
Its message of the big, round, childish hand,
Its wonder, its simple lonely cry,
The bloodied envelope addressed to you,
Is history, that wide and mortal pang.
-Stanley Kunitz


Ves aquí, hermana, entre los choperales...
Ves aquí, hermana, entre los choperales
que el mirlo ensaya su mejor tonada,
y es la piel del lagarto más dorada,
y hay en la hormiga reina alas nupciales.

Y tú, hoy que laten ímpetus brutales
en cada antena de esta selva alada,
has llegado ante mí tan sazonada
que no sé, hermana, ya de dónde sales.

Y hoy que es el tiempo, amor, y son tus galas
bellas como esas pieles y esas alas
y necesito, amor, que seas mía,

yo, tan torpe en hablar, ante tu encanto
tan dulce he echado a hablar, que ése sería,
si pudiera escribirse, mi gran canto.
-Agustín García Calvo


Last edited: 2 January 2008 15:25:12