Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vladimir Holan


After this life here, we're to be awakened one day
by the terrible screams of trumpets and bugles?
Forgive me, Lord, but I trust
that the beginning and the resurrection of us, the dead,
will be announced by the crowing of a rooster . . .

We'll lie on for a little longer . . .
The first to rise
will be mother . . . We'll hear her
quietly making the fire,
quietly putting the kettle on,
and cozily taking the coffee grinder out of the cupboard.
We'll be at home again.

tr. C. G. Hanzlicek and Dana Hábová

in Mirroring: Selected Poems of Vladimir Holan
[Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1984]

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Max Jacob

Literature and Poetry

It was in the neighborhood of Lorient, there was a brilliant sky and we were strolling, watching in these September days how the sea rose, rose and covered the woods, the landscape, the cliffs. Soon there was nothing left for the sea to battle with except the meanders of paths under the trees, and the families got closer together. There was among us a child dressed in a sailor suit. He was sad; he took my hand: "Sir," he said, "I have been in Naples; do you know that in Naples there are many small streets; in the streets you can stay all alone without being seen: it isn't that there are many people in Naples, but there are so many little streets that there is only one street per person." "What kind of lie has this child been telling you again," said the father. "Sir, your son is a poet." "That's fine, but if he is a man of letters, I'll wring his neck!" The meanders in the path left dry by the sea made him day dream about the streets of Naples.

fr. Le cornet à dés
tr. James Vladimir Gill

inThe Prose Poem: An International Journal, vol. 3

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Miroslav Holub

Vanishing Lung Syndrome

Once in a while somebody fights for breath.
He stops, getting in everyone's way.
The crowd flows around, muttering
about the flow of crowds,
but he just fights for breath.

Inside there may be growing
a sea monster within a sea monster,
a black, talking bird,
a raven Nevermore that
can't find a bust of Athena
to perch on and so just grows
like a bullous emphysema with cyst development,
fibrous masses and lung hypertension.

Inside there may be growing
a huge muteness of fairy tales,
the wood-block baby that gobbles everything,
father, mother, flock of sheep,
dead-end road among fields,
screeching wagon and horse,
I've eaten them all and now I'll eat you,
while scintigraphy shows
a disappearance of perfusion, and angiography
shows remnants of arterial branches
without the capillary phase.

Inside there may be growing
an abandoned room,
bare walls, pale squares where pictures hung,
a disconnected phone,
feathers settling on the floor
the encyclopaedists have moved out and
Dostoevsky never found the place,

lost in the landscape
where only surgeons
write poems.

fr. Vanishing Lung Syndrome
tr. David Young and Dana Hábová
[London: Faber and Faber, 1990]