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World Poetry

Be still, my soul, be still

Alfred Edward Housman

Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,
Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong.
Think rather,-- call to thought, if now you grieve a little,
The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long.

Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry
I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn;
Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry:
Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born.

Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,
I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.
Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season:
Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.

Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation;
All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:
Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation--
Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?

Translated by


Amanda Bell

To make durable Writing on Paper,
dissolve gum-arabic in water,
and add thereto ivory black
– extremely well ground –
and write therewith.

Acids cannot discharge this writing;
and if you wish to secure it
against the steams of hot water,
the writing may be covered
with white of egg, clarified.

To revive old Writings
which are almost defaced,
boil gall nuts in wine;
then steep a sponge into the liquor,
and pass it on the lines of the old writing:
by this method the letters
– which were almost undecipherable –
will appear as fresh as if newly done.


Chun Scríbhneoireacht ar Pháipéar a dhéanamh marthanach,
leáigh guma arabach in uisce
agus cuir leis sin eabhardhubh –
an-mheilte go deo –
agus bí ag scríobh leat.

Ní ghlanfadh aigéid an scríbhneoireacht seo:
dá mba mhaith leat í a chosaint
ar ghal ó uisce te,
is féidir an scríbhneoireacht a chlúdach
le gealacán uibhe, léirghlanta.

Chun sean-Scríbhinnní atá beagnach millte
a athnuachan,
beirigh cnó-ghál i bhfíon,
cuir spúinse ar maos sa leacht ansin,
is cuimil ar línte na seanscríbhinne é:
ar an mbealach sin beidh na litreacha
- a bhí doléite geall leis –
chomh húr is dá mbeidís nuascríofa.

Translated by Gabriel Rosenstock into Irish from English

Picture me

Folina Chongthu

1. Picture me in a pictur eless book half-written
With no ending and no tears to chance upon as you leave yourself baffled
A script where the persona's fortune can be well transmuted.
Picture me in a road less taken
Where the street nourishes sand that has not been stepped on for forever
The wind carries crystals to the horizon in a duly demeanour
No one knows neither the book nor the road and where they will lead to.

2. Picture me in a chaotic modern art
Colours splash on every nook and cranny of the canvas
Imagine black, inexplicable artistry, residing in it.
Picture me in a lunar eclipse half-swallowed
A face that plays two aspects of emotions
And the implacable sadness that overshadows the light
Here is a root of the root that falsifies.

3. Picture me in a rising fire or high water
In a touch-me-not or a lost boat sailing under the drizzling rain.
In a random chat between two homeless people.
Picture me in a state of reverie inside a hollow bus or an unused station
Where lies the bitter truth revealed after the city sleeps.
I am but a frail moment of things empty and aimless
Like a gypsy wandering off to god knows where.

4. Picture me in a clock ticking back and forth
Everything exists on the verge of eternal timelessness
The ticking hand is merely a hand to tell a day's time.
Picture me in a woman loving a woman
The rough world throwing stones and casting them off
We are but ridicules of lost souls anxious to encounter righteousness
And time is merely time to remind us of our short, mortal lives.

Translated by


Gabriel Rosenstock

Arrows do not make him flee, sling stones are like chaff to him. Tanakh

A whale came into the shallows of Machaire Rabhartaigh
all attempts at resuscitation failed
. . . trembling purple orchids among the dunes

They buried it fifteen feet below
but full of gas
it rose again

Holding their noses
they cut it into three
and re-interred it in the sand
. . .trembling purple orchids among the dunes

What had brought it in?
The Royal Navy:
“We were not in that area.
Furthermore, our sonar signals are not considered to be –”
. . . trembling purple orchids among the dunes

Music in the pubs was muted that night
a fiddle played a slow air
the moon came out, briefly,
Enbarr, the sea-god’s horse, was heard
thundering along the strand
his long white mane billowing
… trembling purple orchids among the dunes

Translated by

From four saints in three acts

Gertrude Stein

Pigeons on the grass alas.
Pigeons on the grass alas.
Short longer grass short longer longer shorter yellow grass. Pigeons
large pigeons on the shorter longer yellow grass alas pigeons on the
If they were not pigeons what were they.
If they were not pigeons on the grass alas what were they. He had
heard of a third and he asked about if it was a magpie in the sky.
If a magpie in the sky on the sky can not cry if the pigeon on the
grass alas can alas and to pass the pigeon on the grass alas and the
magpie in the sky on the sky and to try and to try alas on the
grass alas the pigeon on the grass the pigeon on the grass and alas.
They might be very well they might be very well very well they might
Let Lucy Lily Lily Lucy Lucy let Lucy Lucy Lily Lily Lily Lily
Lily let Lily Lucy Lucy let Lily. Let Lucy Lily.

Translated by

The Twilight turns

James Joyce

The twilight turns from amethyst
To deep and deeper blue,
The lamp fills with a pale green glow
The trees of the avenue.

The old piano plays an air,
Sedate and slow and gay;
She bends upon the yellow keys,
Her head inclines this way.

Shy thought and grave wide eyes and hands
That wander as they list -- -
The twilight turns to darker blue
With lights of amethyst.

Translated by

The Last Lap

Rudyard Kipling

How do we know, by the bank-high river,
Where the mired and sulky oxen wait,
And it looks as though we might wait for ever,
How do we know that the floods abate?
There is no change in the current's brawling--
Louder and harsher the freshet scolds;
Yet we can feel she is falling, falling
And the more she threatens the less she holds,
Down to the drift, with no word spoken,
The wheel-chained wagons slither and slue....
Achtung! The back of the worst is broken!
And--lash your leaders!--we're through--we're through!

How do we know, when the port-fog holds us
Moored and helpless, a mile from the pier,
And the week-long summer smother enfolds us--
How do we know it is going to clear?
There is no break in the blindfold weather,
But, one and another, about the bay,
The unseen capstans clink together,
Getting ready to up and away.
A pennon whimpers--the breeze has found us--
A headsail jumps through the thinning haze.
The whole hull follows, till--broad around us--
The clean-swept ocean says: "Go your ways!"

How do we know, when the long fight rages,
On the old, stale front that we cannot shake,
And it looks as though we were locked for ages,
How do we know they are going to break?
There is no lull in the level firing,
Nothing has shifted except the sun.
Yet we can feel they are tiring, tiring--
Yet we can tell they are ripe to run.
Something wavers, and, while we wonder,
Their centre-trenches are emptying out,
And, before their useless flanks go under,
Our guns have pounded retreat to rout!

Translated by

Home sickness

Shelly Bhoil

These ballerinas,
the migratory birds
lift their toes
unfolding feathers
in harmony
to perform the sky dance
and exit the horizon
leaving behind empty-nes(t)s
echoing with joyous, envious
songs of home and return
for this solitary immigrant
whose path is chartered on
a seamless ocean
of individual drops

In the sprawling waves
of loneliness and longing
I drift between things banal
tv, tea, smokes and car
to the corner street
where someone's soot-clad feet
comfortably dislodged
from a card box home
shatter my ballerina romance

for I realize-
home sickness is a luxury
unavailable to the homeless!

Translated by


Shelly Bhoil

That's right, I carry
between my legs
a bag with a napkin
soaked in blood.

Wait, haven't I been carrying
in me a fountain
of blood since the first mother
ever came on earth?

Indeed, I am, oh goodness,
an enduring river of blood
flowing in your veins
from my uterus urn!

And you! Where do you drain off
your mothers' blood each time
you carry your bloodless body
to the exclusive shrine of your mind?

Translated by
Home sickness


Shelly Bhoil

it was about then when we didn’t understand what it is
and set out into meaning-making exercises

                                  i gently stole a strand of hair from my class-
                                  mate’s blazer and pulled one mine to juxtapose
                                  the two in sunshine. a few more strands got
                                  pulled and stolen. then my head scratched to not
                                  understand how some hair could be ‘thin’ and
                                  some not!

my talkative twin chased words that danced on elders’
lips and struggled to speak every split second their lips
sealed that she should be speaking now because she has
understood a ‘conversation’ (at the end of which she was
allowed to speak) means a word.

    the father’s face became red while the mother tapped her forehead!

we traced the patterns of O and C in the moon, Y the trees
we climbed, V W and M in valleys and mountains we saw,
hanging from the trees, upside down. the mountains, a few
walks away on our last birthday, appeared distant now. the
grandfather explained the phenomenon to our growing tall.

                          we settled down to writing when my twin rhymed
           flower with shower. I wrote ‘a smiling flower in the
                          rain shower.’ we tried to bring in even ‘power.’ Then
           we discovered the dictionary and began replacing
                         ‘condition’ with ‘predicament’

the rhyming became inexpedient as meanings socialized

those un-publishable poems and experiential meanings had a joy lost to us like those years in the years we have grown up to understand what it is
                   and that my twin never was nor will be

Translated by
Home sickness



The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage——
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free——
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.


આ ટ્યૂલિપ્સ ઘણા ઉત્તેજક છે, અહીં શિયાળો છે
જોને કેટલું સફેદ છે બધ્ધું, કેટલું શાંત, કેટલું હિમાચ્છાદિત.
અજવાળું પથરાય છે આ દીવાલ, આ ખાટલા, આ હાથ પર
અહીં એકલી સૂતા સૂતા હું જાતને ભણાવું છું શાંતિના પાઠ
હું જાણે છું જ નહિ, મારે વિસ્ફોટ સાથે કોઈ લેવા દેવા નથી.
મારુ નામ ને દિવસે પહેરવાના કપડાં મેં નર્સને આપી દીધા છે
મારી અથથી ઇતિ શીશી સૂંઘાડનારને ને મારું શરીર દાક્તરને.

મારું માથું ટેકવીને મૂક્યું છે એમણે ઓશિકા ને ચાદરની કિનારની વચમાં
બે સફેદ પોપચાંની વચમાં બંધ ન થતી આંખની જેમ.
મૂર્ખ કીકી, એને બધું અંદર લીધે છૂટકો.
નર્સો આવે ને જાય, આવે ને જાય, એ નડતી નથી
એ તો આવે ને જાય પ્રવાસી સીગલ જેવી, માથે સફેદ ટોપી લઇ,
હાથથી કંઈ ને કંઈ કરતી, જેવી એક તેવી બીજી
એટલે બધી મળીને કુલ કેટલી એ કહેવું અશક્ય છે

મારું શરીર એમને માટે એક કાંકરી છે, જેને એ લોકો સાચવે છે પાણી જેમ
સાચવે છે, પસવારે છે હળવેકથી, એ કાંકરીને જેની ઉપર ફરી વળવાનું હોય
ચળકતી સોંયોમાં એ બધિરતા લઈને આવે છે, નિંદર લઇને આવે છે.
હું ખોવાઈ ગઈ છું, કંટાળી ગઈ છું સામાનથી---
મારો ખાસ ચામડાનો એક જોડી કપડાંભર્યો થેલો દવાઓના કાળા ખોખા જેવો,
મારો વર ને છોકરો ફોટોફ્રેમમાં બેઠાં હસે છે;
એમનું હાસ્ય ચોંટી જાય છે મારી ચામડી પર, નાની હસતી આંકડીઓ

મેં બધી ચીજોને સરકવા દીધી છે, ત્રીસ વર્ષ જૂનું માલભર્યું જહાજ
જિદ્દી થઇને લટકે છે મારા નામ ને સરનામાં પર.
ડેટોલવાળા રૂના ટુકડાથી ઘસી ઘસીને સાફ કરી નાખ્યા છે એમણે મારા પ્રેમાળ સંગાથો
લીલી પ્લાસ્ટિકની ટ્રોલી ઉપર ભયભીત ને ઉઘાડાં પડ્યાં જોઉં છું
મારા ચાના કપ રકાબી, મારા કપડાંભર્યા ખાનાં, મારા પુસ્તકો
નજર તળે ડૂબે છે, અને પાણી માથા ઉપર થઇ ચાલ્યું જાય છે.
હું હવે એક સાધ્વી છું, ક્યારેય આટલી નિષ્કલંક નહોતી

મારે કોઈ ફૂલો નહોતા જોઈતા, મારે ખાલી હાથ
ઉપર કરીને સૂવું'તું, સાવ સાવ ખાલી.
કેટલી મુક્તિ, કેટલું ખુલ્લાપણું તને અંદાજેય નથી---
એટલી બધી શાંતિ કે તું મૂઢ થઇ જાય,
અને એ તારી પાસે કંઈ માંગણીઓ ના કરે, નામની તક્તી, જરઝવેરાત.
અહીં આવીને જ તો અટકે છે મૃતકો, હું કલ્પી શકું છું એમને
પિંડ પરે મુખ બંધ કરતાં, જાણે પ્રસાદનો ઠોર.

પહેલી વાત કે આ ટ્યૂલિપ્સ સખ્ખત લાલ છે, વાગે છે મને.
ચળકતા કાગળની આરપાર સાંભળી શકું છું
એમના હળવા શ્વાસ, વીંટાળેલા સફેદ કપડાંની આરપાર, કોઈ ભૂંડા બાળકના જેવા.
એમની લાલાશ વાતો કરે છે મારા ઘાવ સાથે, સંવાદ કરે છે.
એ ઘણા સૂક્ષ્મ છે: લગભગ તરે છે, ને છતાંય હું લદાઈ જાઉં છું એમના બોજ તળે,
એકાદ ડઝન સીસાનાં ભારણ મારા ગળા ફરતે
વ્યાકુળ કરતાં મને એમની સફાળી જીભથી નેએમના રંગથી.

કોઈએ મારી કદી દેખરેખ રાખી નથી, ને હવે બધા પહેરો કરે છે.
ટ્યૂલિપ્સ મને જુએ છે, ને આ પાછળની બારી પણ
જ્યાં દિવસમાં એક વાર અજવાશ ધીમેથી ફેલાય છે ને આછો થાય છે,
ને હું જોઉં છું મારી જાતને, ચત્તીપાટ, હાસ્યાસ્પદ, સૂરજની આંખ ને ટ્યૂલિપની આંખની વચમાં
કાગળ-કાપ્યા છાયાચિત્ર જેવી ચહેરા વિનાની, મારે ભૂંસી જ નાખવી હતી મારી જાતને
આ તીવ્ર ટ્યૂલિપ્સ મારો ઓક્સિજન ખાઈ જાય છે.

એ આવ્યા એ પહેલાં હવા શાંત હતી
આવતી જતી, શ્વાસ પછી શ્વાસ, કોઈ ખટપટ વિના.
પછી આ ટ્યૂલિપ્સે અેને ભરી દીધી, જાણે કોઈ ગરજતો અવાજ.
હવે આ હવા ભોંકી જાય છે અને વમળાય છે એમની આસપાસ જાણે કોઈ નદી
ભોંકી જાય છે ને વમળાય છે ડૂબેલા કાટખાધા લાલ ઈંજનને ફરતે
એ મારું ધ્યાન કેન્દ્રિત કરે છે, જેને મોકળાશ હતી
કોઈ બંધન વિના રમવાની-આરામવાની

આ દીવાલો પણ પોતાને ચેતવણી આપતી લાગે છે:
ભયાનક જાનવર જેવા આ ટ્યૂલિપ્સને તો સળિયા પાછળ નાખવા જોઈએ
એમનું મોઢું તો જો, ફાડીને બેઠા છે, કોઈ આફ્રિકન બિલાડો જાણે,
અને મને ભાન છે મારા હૃદયનું, એ ખુલે છે ને બંધ થાય છે
એનો લાલ કટોરો ખીલે છે મારી પ્રત્યેના ભરપૂર પ્રેમને કારણે.
હું ચાખું છું પાણી, ગરમ ને ખારું, દરિયા જેવું,
આવતું તબિયત જેટલા દૂરના કોઈ દેશથી.

--- સીલ્વીયા પ્લાથ
અનુવાદ: પ્રતિષ્ઠા પંડ્યા

Translated by Pratishta Pandya from English

what could be stranger

Waqas Khwaja

what could be stranger than the way
i experience you?
i taste you with my eyes
smell you with my touch
hear the pores of your skin
humming with bees
see the prickle of your body’s
untarnished desire
breathe its stinging melody on my breath
and i sip the ardent voice
of your eyes with my tongue

an bhféadfadh aon ní bheith níos aite

Waqas Khwaja

An bhféadfadh aon ní bheith níos aite
ná mo thaithíse ort?
Blaisim thú lem’ shúile
bolaím lem’ mhéara thú
cloisim póireanna do chraicinn
is iad ag crónán le beacha
feicim spíonta dhúil gan teimheal
do cholainne
is a ceolmhaireacht ghéar ar m’anáil
agus slogaim dianghuth
do shúl lem’ theanga

Translated by Gabriel Rosenstock into Irish from English

The Tyger

William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

વ્યાઘ્ર,વ્યાઘ્ર ઝળહળ જ્વલંત
રાત્રિના અરણ્યો મહીં
કો’ હાથ અવિનાશી , કો’ નેત્ર
ઘડે કોણ તુજ કરાલ આકૃતિ ?

કો’ દૂરની ઊંડાઈએ, કો’ આભની ઊંચાઈએ
જલે તુજ આંખના અંગાર, કહે ?
ચડી કઈ પાંખે એણે સેવી મનોકામના ?
કયે હાથે સાહસી ઝાલ્યો’તો દેવતા ?
ક્યો સ્કંધ ? કૌશલ ક્યું ?
આમળી જેણે હૃદયની કંદરા ?
ને ધબકતું જ્યાં થયું તારું હૃદય
કયા પ્રચંડ હાથ ?કયાં પગલાં પ્રચંડ ?

કઈ હથોડી ?સાંકળ કઈ ?
હતું કઈ ભઠ્ઠીમાં મસ્તક તહીં ?
કઈ એરણ ?કઈ પક્કડ વિકરાળ
લલકારતી એ કાતિલ ભીંસને !

હેઠાં મૂકી શસ્ત્રો જ્યારે તારલા
સીંચતા નિજ અશ્રુથી સુરભોમને
શું એ સમય એ હસેલો ખુદનું કામ જોઈને ?
શું એ જ તારો સર્જનહાર બનાવ્યું ઘેટું જેણે ?

વ્યાઘ્ર, વ્યાઘ્ર ,ઝળહળ જ્વલંત
રાત્રિના અરણ્યો મહી
કો’ હાથ અવિનાશી, કો' નેત્ર
કરે સાહસ ઘડવા તુજ કરાલ આકૃતિ ?

Translated by Pratishtha Pandya

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Translated by
The Poet Pleads with the Elemental Powers

The Poet Pleads with the Elemental Powers

William Butler Yeats

The Powers whose name and shape no living creature knows
Have pulled the Immortal Rose;
And though the Seven Lights bowed in their dance and wept,
The Polar Dragon slept,
His heavy rings uncoiled from glimmering deep to deep:
When will he wake from sleep?
Great Powers of falling wave and wind and windy fire,
With your harmonious choir
Encircle her I love and sing her into peace,
That my old care may cease;
Unfold your flaming wings and cover out of sight
The nets of day and night.
Dim powers of drowsy thought, let her no longer be
Like the pale cup of the sea,
When winds have gathered and sun and moon burned dim
Above its cloudy rim;
But let a gentle silence wrought with music flow
Whither her footsteps go.

Translated by
The Second Coming

The Worms' Contempt

William Henry Davies

What do we earn for all our gentle grace?
A body stiff and cold from foot to face.

If you have beauty, what is beauty worth?
A mask to hide it, made of common earth.

What do we get for all our song and prattle?
A gasp for longer breath, and then a rattle.

What do we earn for dreams, and our high teaching?
The worms' contempt, that have no time for preaching.

Translated by