Tuesday, 29 November 2016

News Report

NEWS REPORT - (a found poem out of prose)

~ by John le Carré

'He turned on the
BBC World News
and switched
it off again.

Half truths.
Quarter truths.

What that world
really knows
about itself, it
doesn't dare say."

* John le Carré, in 'Our Kind Of Traitor' (2010)

The Unknown Bird


~ by Edward Thomas (1878-1917) Welsh Poet

Three lovely notes he whistled, too soft to be heard
If others sang; but others never sang
In the great beech-wood all that May and June.

No one saw him: I alone could hear him
Though many listened. Was it but four years
Ago? or five? He never came again.

Oftenest when I heard him I was alone,
Nor could I ever make another hear.
La-la-la! he called, seeming far-off —
As if a cock crowed past the edge of the world,
As if the bird or I were in a dream.

Yet that he travelled through the trees and sometimes
Neared me, was plain, though somehow distant still
He sounded. All the proof is — I told men
What I had heard.

* * *
I never knew a voice,
Man, beast, or bird, better than this. I told
The naturalists; but neither had they heard
Anything like the notes that did so haunt me,
I had them clear by heart and have them still.

Four years, or five, have made no difference. Then
As now that La-la-la! was bodiless sweet:
Sad more than joyful it was, if I must say
That it was one or other, but if sad
‘Twas sad only with joy too, too far off
For me to taste it. But I cannot tell
If truly never anything but fair
The days were when he sang, as now they seem.

This surely I know, that I who listened then,
Happy sometimes, sometimes suffering
A heavy body and a heavy heart,
Now straightway, if I think of it, become
Light as that bird wandering beyond my shore.

* * *

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Tourists -by Yehuda Amichai




- by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)

Visits of condolence is all
we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.

They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel's Tomb
And Herzl Tomb
And on the top of Ammunition Hill.

They weep over our sweet boys
And lust over our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool blue bathrooms.

Once I sat on the steps by a gate
At David's Tower, I placed my
Two heavy baskets at my side.
A group of tourists was standing around
Their guide and I became their target marker.

"You see that man with the baskets?
Just right of his head there's an arch from
The Roman Period. Just right of his head."
'But he's moving!' I said to myself, redemption
Will come only if their guide tells them,

"You see the arch
from the Roman period?
It's not important; but next to it,
Left and down a bit, there sits
a man who's bought fruit and
vegetables for his family."

- translated from the Hebrew of Yehuda Amichai by Glenda Abramson & Tudor Parfitt

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Image: János Pilinszky (1921 – 1981 Budapest )


- by János Pilinszky

What day is today?
The way I live
I keep on confusing
time's timetable.

"Like thieves" -
in Simone Weil's wonderful words
"on the cross of space and time
we human beings are nailed."

I drift off,
and the splinters
shock me

At such times I
see the world with piercing
sharpness, try to turn my
head in your direction.

* * *
-Translated from the Hungarian of János Pilinszky by Peter Jay.

Our Epoch


by Vladimir Holan

By the image of things
we are still in time.

But today, before
the sower has taken

a step, the reaper
is already there.

It seems there will be
neither dead nor living.

* * *
-translated from the Czech
of Vladimir Holan (1905-1980)
by Ian & Jarmila Milner

An Amazon of Wattle Flows To Christmas

An Amazon of Wattle Flows To Christmas

"It's the Wattle River -no,
river is too small a term, unless
you say Amazon, and imagine
an Amazon a continent wide.

Well, the Wattle River rises
in Queensland about, say May every
year, and it flows in foaming golden crest
on crest through June and New South Wales,
and July and Riverina, and August and September
and Victoria, trickling through every valley
and every day, and lapping every mountain side,
and disregarding even the sea, plashes and tumbles,
and leaps and rolls over October and Tasmania and
November and December, until it reaches Christmas
and the Pacific and sends back over its course
such an echo of its memory, that we long
and linger for the promise of the echo,
that its rising time will soon return.

* * *

- Bernard O'Dowd (1866-1953) Australian white-collar poet, radical parliamentary draughtsman, educator and activist bureaucrat, journalist and author of several books of law and poetry - from 'Fantasies' (Melbourne, 1942) p.7



- by James McAuley

The thin distraction of a spider’s web
collects the clear cold drops of night.
Seeds falling on the water spread
a rippling target for the light.

The rumour in the ear now murmurs less,
the snail draws in its tender horn,
the heart becomes a bare attentiveness,
and in that bareness light is born.