Monday, June 6, 2011

"In a Clearing" by W.S. Merwin


The unnumbered herds flow like lichens
Along the darkness each carpet at its height
In silence
Herds without end
Without death
Nothing is before them nothing after
Among the hooves the hooves' brothers the shells
In a sea

Passing through senses
As through bright clearings surrounded with pain
Some of the animals
See souls moving in their word death
With its many tongues that no god could speak
That can describe
Nothing that cannot die

The word
Surrounds the souls
The hide they wear
Like a light in the light
And when it goes out they vanish

In the eyes of the herds there is only one light
They cherish it with the darkness it belongs to
They take their way through it nothing is
Before them and they leave it
A small place
Where dying a sun rises

Source of the text - W.S. Merwin, The Second Four Books of Poems.  Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1993, pp. 123-4.

TJB: Vast prairie or tiny clearing? Herds pass through a forest of death, pain; round a clearing of sense, of life, not of a light but the light.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Ode to the Lemon" by Pablo Neruda

Oda al Limón

De aquellos azahares
por la luz de la luna,
de aquel
olor de amor
hundido en la fragancia,
del limonero el amarillo,
desde su planetario
bajaron a la tierra los limones.

Tierna mercadería!
Se llenaron las costas,
los mercados,
de luz, de oro
y abrimos
dos mitades
de milagro,
ácido congelado
que corría
desde los hemisferios
de una estrella,
y el licor más profundo
de la naturaleza,
intransferible, vivo,
nació de la frescura
del limón,
de su casa fragante,
de su ácida, secreta simetría.

En el limón cortaron
los cuchillos
una pequeña
el ábside escondido
abrió a la luz los ácidos vitrales
y en gotas
resbalaron los topacios,
los altares,
la fresca arquitectura.

Así, cuando tu mano
empuña el hemisferio
del cortado
limón sobre tu plato
un universo de oro
copa amarilla
con milagros,
uno de los pezones olorosos
del pecho de la tierra,
el rayo de la luz que se hizo fruta,
el fuego diminuto de un planeta.

English translation by Margaret Sayers Peden:

Ode to the Lemon

From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from an
aroma of exasperated
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.

Tender yield!
The coasts,
the markets glowed
with light, with
unrefined gold;
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
born of the cool, fresh
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.

sliced a small
in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened,
revealed acid stained glass,
oozed topaz,
cool architecture.

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
yellow goblet
of miracles,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth’s breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.

Source of the text - Pablo Neruda, Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda, translated with an introduction by Margaret Sayers Peden.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990, pp. 324-327.

Bourguignomicon: Lemonawe. Neruda portrays the harvesting, opening, carving & squeezing of a lemon as heavenly, churchlike, acidic & worthy of our attention.

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