776. May You Love Leaves, by Vernon Watkins

May you love leaves, complete yet unfulfilled,
Dancing in the light, in the shade where light is stilled.
May the wild woodpecker, knocking on the hollow
Treetrunk remind you, and the voice of the late swallow
That distance is mortal. May you then run complete
Into that circle created by your feet
And may you be astounded, when the rest are gone,
By the chill water splashing on the stone.
Wait, then, for patience is the friend of love,
Wait, on the last breath, last echo where you move,
Then it shall come, the miracle you sought,
Not in the leaves, nor in your own thought,
Joy will surround you, which you thought had fled,
In safety, in silence, in the steps of the dead.

Source: Collected Poems of Vernon Watkins

777. Untitled, by Bhavabhuti

Critics scoff
at my work
and declare their contempt—
no doubt they've got
their own little wisdom.
I write nothing for them.
But because time is
endless and our planet
vast, I write these
poems for a person
who will one day be born
with my sort of heart.

(trans Andrew Schelling)

Source: Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India

778. The Simplon Pass, by William Wordsworth

                                      —Brook and road
Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass,
And with them did we journey several hours
At a slow step. The immeasurable height
Of woods decaying, never to be decayed,
The stationary blasts of waterfalls,
And in the narrow rent, at every turn,
Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn,
The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky,
The rocks that muttered close upon our ears,
Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside
As if a voice were in them, the sick sight
And giddy prospect of the raving stream,
The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens,
Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light—
Were all like workings of one mind, the features
Of the same face, blossoms upon one three,
Characters of the great Apocalypse,
The types and symbols of Eternity,
Of first, and last, and midst, and without end.

Source: Selected Poetry of William Wordsworth

779. Let It Be Forgotten, by Sara Teasdale

Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
    Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten for ever and ever,
    Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
    Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
    In a long forgotten snow.

Source: Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale

780. The Speech of Birds, by Kathleen Raine

It is not birds that speak, but men learn silence;
They know and need no language; leaf-wise
In shadowy flight, threading the leafy trees,
Expressive only of the world's long thoughts,
Absolute rises their one-pointed song,
Not from a heart divided, and in pain.

The sweet-eyed, unregarding beasts
Waking and sleeping wear the natural grace.
The innocent order of the stars and tides
An impulse in the blood-stream circulates.
Obedient to the one living pulse,
With them, at heart, converse the saints.

We, ignorant and outcast, stand
Wondering at the swallow's flight
Gazing at the open hand,
Questioning the lines of fate—
Each individual destiny
Preying on an exiled mind.

Our words, our concepts, only name
A world of shadows; for the truth is plain
That visited Jacob in a dream,
And Moses, from the burning desert heard,
Or angels in annunciation bring.

Source: Collected Poems of Kathleen Raine

781. Lines from The Odyssey, by Homer

"Of mortal creatures, all that breathe and move,
earth bears none frailer than mankind. What man
believes in woe to come, so long as valor
and tough knees are supplied him by the gods?
But when gods in bliss bring miseries on,
then willy-nilly, blindly, he endures.
Our minds are as the days are, dark or bright,
blown over by the father of gods and men.

So I, too, in my time thought to be happy;
but far and rash I ventured, counting on
my own right arm, my father, and my kin;
behold me now.
                                                     No man should flout the law,
but keep in peace what gifts the gods may give.

I see you young blades living dangerously,
a household eaten up, a wife dishonored—
and yet the master will return, I tell you,
to his own place, and soon; for he is near.
So may some power take you out of this,
homeward, and softly, not to face that man
the hour he sets foot on his native ground.
Between him and the suitors I foretell
no quittance, no way out, unless by blood,
once he shall stand beneath his own roof-beam."

Gravely, when he had done, he made libation
and took a sip of honey-hearted wine,
giving the cup, then, back into the hands
of the young nobleman. Amphinomos, for his part,
shaking his head, with chill and burdened breast,
turned in the great hall.
                                                      Now his heart foreknew
the wrath to come, but he could not take flight,
being by Athena bound there.
                                                      Death would have him
broken by a spear thrown by Telemakhos.
So he sat down where he had sat before.

(trans Robert Fitzgerald)

Source:  The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation

782. Report from a Besieged City, by Zbigniew Herbert

Too old to carry arms and to fight like others—

they generously assigned to me the inferior role of a chronicler
I record—not knowing for whom—the history of the siege

I have to be precise but I don't know when the invasion began
two hundred years ago in December in autumn perhaps yesterday
     at dawn
here everybody is losing the sense of time

we were left with the place an attachment to the place
still we keep ruins of temples phantoms of gardens of houses
if we were to lose the ruins we would be left with nothing

I write as I can in the rhythm of unending weeks
monday: storehouses are empty a rat is now a unit of currency
tuesday: the mayor is killed by unknown assailants
wednesday: talks of armistice the enemy interned our envoys
we don't know where they are being kept i.e. tortured
thursday: after a stormy meeting the majority voted down
the motion of spice merchants on unconditional surrender
friday: the onset of plague saturday: the suicide of
N.N., the most steadfast defender sunday: no water we repulsed
the attack at the eastern gate named the Gate of the Alliance

I know all this is monotonous nobody would care

I avoid comments keep emotions under control describe facts
they say facts only are valued on foreign markets
but with a certain pride I wish to convey to the world
thanks to the war we raised a new species of children
our children don't like fairy tales they play killing
day and night they dream of soup bread bones
exactly like dogs and cats

in the evening I like to wander in the confines of the City
along the frontiers of our uncertain freedom
I look from above on the multitude of armies on their lights
I listen to the din of drums to barbaric shrieks
it's incredible that the City is still resisting
the seige has been long the foes must replace each other
they have nothing in common except a desire to destroy us
the Goths the Tartars the Swedes the Emperor's troops regiments of
                       Our Lord's Transfiguration
who could count them
colors of banners change as does the forest on the horizon
from the bird's delicate yellow in the spring through the green the red
                       to the winter black

and so in the evening freed from facts I am able to give thought
to bygone far away matters for instance to our
allies overseas I know they feel true compassion
they send us flour sacks of comfort lard and good counsel
without even realizing that we were betrayed by their fathers
our former allies from the time of the second Apocalypse
their sons are not guilty they deserve our gratitude we are so grateful
they have never lived through the eternity of a siege
those marked by misfortune are always alone
Dalai Lama's defenders Kurds Afghan mountaineers

now as I write these words proponents of compromise
have won a slightly advantage over the part of the dauntless
usual shifts of mood our fate is still in the balance

cemeteries grow larger the number of defenders shrinks
but the defense continues and will last to the end
and even if the City falls and one of us survives
he will carry the City inside him on the roads of exile
he will be the City

we look at the face of hunger the face of fire the face of death
and the worst of them all—the face of treason

and only our dreams have not been humiliated

                                                              (Warsaw 1982)

(trans Czeslaw Milosz)

Source: New York Review of Books, August 18, 1983

783. Zazen on Ching-t'ing Mountain, by Li Po

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
(trans Sam Hamill)

784. from The Conference of the Birds, by Farid ud-Din Attar

The hoopoe answered them: 'How can love thrive
In hearts impoverished and half alive?
"Beggars," you say—such niggling poverty
Will not encourage truth or charity
A man whose eyes love opens risks his soul—
His dancing breaks beyond the mind's control.
When long ago the Simorgh first appeared—
His face like sunlight when the clouds have cleared—
He cast unnumbered shadows on the earth,
On each one fixed his eyes, and each gave birth.
Thus we were born; the birds of every land
Are still his shadows—think, and understand.
If you had known this secret you would see
The link between yourselves and Majesty.
Do not reveal this truth, and God forfend
That you mistake for God Himself God's friend.
If you become that substance I propound,
You are not God, though in God you are drowned;
Those lost in Him are not the Deity—
This problem can be argued endlessly.
You are His shadow, and cannot be moved
By thoughts of life or death once this is proved.
If He had kept His majesty concealed,
No earthly shadow would have been revealed,
And where that shadow was directly cast
The race of birds sprang up before it passed.
Your heart is not a mirror bright and clear
If there the Simorgh's form does not appear;
No one can bear His beauty face to face,
And for this reason, of His perfect grace,
He makes a mirror in our hearts—look there
To see Him, search your hearts with anxious care.

(trans Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis)

Source:The Conference of the Birds

785. The Evening, by Georg Trakl

With dead shapes of heroes
You, moon, fill
The silent forests,
Sickle moon—
With the gentle embrace
Of lovers,
The shadow of times of renown,
Fill the moldering rocks all around;
So bluish it glitters
Against the city,
Where, cold and evil,
A rotting generation dwells
And prepares a dark future
For white grandchildren.
You moon-swallowed shadows,
Sighing in the empty crystal
Of the mountain lake.

(trans Robert Firmage)

 Source: Song of the Departed: Selected Poems of Georg Trakl

786. The Wild Flower Man, by Lu Yu

Do you know the old man who
Sells flowers by the South Gate?
He lives on flowers like a bee.
In the morning he sells mallows,
In the evening he has poppies.
His shanty roof lets in the
Blue sky. His rice bin is
Always empty. When he has
Made enough money from his
Flowers, he heads for a teahouse.
When his money is gone, he
Gathers some more flowers.
All the spring weather, while the
Flowers are in bloom, he is
In bloom, too. Every day he
Is drunk all day long. What does
He care if new laws are posted
At the Emperor's palace?
What does it matter to him
If the government is built
On sand? If you try to talk
To him, he won't answer but
Only give you a drunken
Smile from under his tousled hair.

(trans Kenneth Rexroth)

Source:One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

787. Archaic Torso of Apollo, by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

(trans Stephen Mitchell)

Source: The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

788. Portrait of a Woman, by Wislawa Szymborska

She must be a variety.
Change so that nothing will change.
It's easy, impossible, tough going, worth a shot.
Her eyes are, as required, deep blue, gray,
dark, merry, full of pointless tears.
She sleeps with him as if she's first in line or the only one on earth.
She'll bear him four children, no children, one.
Naive, but gives the best advice.
Weak, but takes on anything.
A screw loose and tough as nails.
Curls up with Jaspers or Ladies' Home Journal.
Can't figure out this bolt and builds a bridge.
Young, young as ever, still looking young.
Holds in her hands a baby sparrow with a broken wing,
her own money for some trip far away,
a meat cleaver, a compress, a glass of vodka.
Where's she running, isn't she exhausted.
Not a bit, a little, to death, it doesn't matter.
She must love him, or she's just plain stubborn.
For better, for worse, for heaven's sake.

(trans Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Source: Poems New and Collected

789. Flying Home from Utah, May Swenson

Forests are branches of a tree lying down,
its blurred trunk in the north.
Farms are fitted pieces of a floor,

tan and green tiles that get smoother,
smaller, the higher we fly.
Heel-shaped dents of water I know are deep

from here appear opaque, of bluish glass.
Curl after curl, rivers are coarse locks
unraveling southward over the land;

hills, rubbed felt, crumpled bumps
of antlers pricking from young bucks' heads.
Now towns are scratches here and there

on a wide, brown-bristled hide.
Long roads rayed out from the sores of cities
begin to fester and crawl with light—

above them the plane is a passing insect
that eyes down there remark, forget
in the moment it specks the overcast.

It climbs higher. Clouds become ground.
Pillows of snow meet, weld into ice.
Alone on a moonlit stainless rink

glides the ghost of a larva, the shadow
of our plane. Lights go on
in the worm-belly where we sit;

it becomes the world, and seems to cease
to travel—only vibrates, stretched out tense
in the tank of night.

The room of my mind replaces the long, lit room.
I dream I point my eye over a leaf
and fascinate my gaze upon its veins:

A sprawled leaf, many-fingered, its radial
ridges limber, green—but curled,
tattered, pocked, the brown palm

nibbled by insects, nestled in by worms:
One leaf of a tree that's one tree of a forest,
that's the branch of the vein of a leaf

of a tree. Perpetual worlds
within, upon, above the world, the world
a leaf within a wilderness of worlds.

Source: New and Selected Things Taking Place

790. On the Detraction Which Followed Upon My Writing Certain Treatises, by John Milton

I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
    By the known rules of ancient liberty,
    When straight a barbarous noise environs me
    Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs;
As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs
    Railed at Latona's twin-born progeny,
    Which after held the Sun and Moon in fee.
    But this is got by casting pearl to hogs,
That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
    And still revolt when Truth would set them free.
    Licence they mean when they cry Liberty;
For who loves that must first be wise and good:
    But from that mark how far they rove we see,
    For all this waste of wealth and loss of blood.

Source: Poetical Works

791. November Surf, by Robinson Jeffers

Some lucky day each November great waves awake and are drawn
Like smoking mountains bright from the west
And come and cover the cliff with white violent cleanness: then
The old granite forgets half a year's filth:
The orange-peel, eggshells, papers, pieces of clothing, the clots
Of dung in corners of the rock, and used
Sheaths that make light love safe in the evenings: all the droppings of
      the summer
Idlers washed off in a winter ecstasy:
I think this cumbered continent envies its cliff then…But all seasons
The earth, in her childlike prophetic sleep,
Keeps dreaming of the bath of a storm that prepares up the long coast
Of the future to scour more than her sea-lines:
The cities gone down, the people fewer and the hawks more numerous,
The rivers mouth to source pure; when the two-footed
Mammal, being someways one of the nobler animals, regains
The dignity of room, the value of rareness.

Source: The Selected Poetry Of Robinson Jeffers

792. The Beaver Pond, by Loren Eiseley

A beaver pond is so much like my mind
I look into its mirror and I glimpse
what lies up here behind my brows; I see
old sticks entangled that might be a thought
too stiff to move; the larval dragonfly,
stretching new wings into the glittering heat,
one hour ago was a masked deadly worm.
Within the shallows hover tiny fish,
minnows of thought, one might say, quick to go,
leaving the surface troubled, and dead leaves
fretted to merest skeletons like those
kept in late age someplace within the brain,
leached skeletons of girls, nameless, features etched away,
this one and that, the pain all sunk below,
not to be stirred, not ever to be stirred.
A beaver pond is silent, the leaves fall,
one leaf fell rather, without sound. This way
the pond accumulates, seeds sometimes grow
but mostly things lie here that try to work
their slow way back to the unreasoning mud.
It is a place of age, this mind, this beaver pond.
Into it I can stare, while thoughts like blue
great devil's darning needles pass, but where
I need not know, girls' skeletons, lost leaves—
what can one make of an old beaver pond?
Nothing, exactly nothing but a presence.
So, too, with mind, and so with God in essence.

Source: The Innocent Assassins

793. The Wren, by Chang Hua

The wren is a tiny bird.
It eats only a few grains;
it makes its nest
on a single branch;
it can only fly a few feet;
it takes up little space
and does no harm.

Its feathers are drab; it is useless
to humankind, but it
receives the force of life.

Ducks and geese can fly up to the clouds,
yet they are shot down with arrows,
for their flesh is plump.

Kingfishers and peacocks must die
because their feathers are beautiful.

The falcon is fierce, but is kept
on a tether; the parrot
is intelligent, but is locked
in a cage, where it is forced
to repeat its master's words.

Only the little wren,
worthless and unlovely,
is free.

(trans Eliot Weinberger; the spacing is mine)

Source: An Elemental Thing

794. Lala and La, by Jean Garrigue

Now that the first flowers are out,
What shall we ever do?
Rejoice, my dears, rejoice,
And kick up our heels.

And go to look at every one
New-come from the bud.
Not yet the tides of spring
Bring blossoms from the wood.
These are the ones that dare.

Yes, and welcome everywhere,
Welcome spider threads,
Welcome waked-up wasps,
And worms that the first birds need,

Welcome green-eyed love.
The boy is about.
Come now, not one tear.
Hear these violins of air.

Source: Studies for an Actress and Other Poems

795. "The warmth of their straw," by Yogesvara

The warmth of their straw borne off by icy winds,
time and again the peasants wake the fire
whose flame dies ever back, stirring with their sticks.
From the smoking bank of mustard chaff,
noisy with the crackling of the husks,
a penetrating odor spreads
to every corner of the threshing floor.

(trans Daniel H. H. Ingalls)

Source: Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara's Treasury

796. Hazel Are My Lady's Eyes, by Nazim Hikmet

Hazel are my lady's eyes,
with waves and waves of green—
gold leaf overlaid with green moiré.
Brothers, what's the story?
For nine years our hands haven't touched:
I got old here,
she there.

My girl, your thick white neck is lined,
but we can't possibly get old
—we need another term for sagging flesh—
because people are old
only if they love no one but themselves.

(trans Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk)

Source: Poems of Nazim Hikmet

797. World, by A. R. Ammons

Breakers at high tide shoot
spray over the jetty boulders
that collects in shallow chips, depressions,

evening the surface to run-off level:
of these possible worlds of held water,
most can't outlast the interim tideless

drought, so are clear, sterile, encased with
salt: one in particular, though, a hole,
providing depth with little surface,

keeps water through the hottest day:
a slime of green algae extends into that
tiny sea, and animals tiny enough to be in a

world there breed and dart and breathe and
die: so we are here in this plant-created oxygen,
drinking this sweet rain, consumed this green.

Source: Collected Poems 1951-1971

798. Travelling, by Henry David Thoreau

If e'er our minds be ill at ease
It is in vain to cross the seas
Or when the fates do prove unkind
To leave our native land behind.
The ship becalmed at length stands still
The steed will rest beneath the hill.
But swiftly still our fortunes pace
To find us out in every place.

Source: Walden, Maine Woods, Essays, & Poems

799. Your Soul Is So Close to Mine, by Jalal al-din Rumi

Your soul is so close to mine
I know what you dream.
Friends scan each other's depths;
Would I be a Friend, if I didn't?
A Friend is a mirror of clear water;
I see my gains in you, and my losses.
Turn away from me for one moment
My mouth fills and chokes with gall.
Like a dream that flows from heart to heart,
I, too, flow continually through all hearts.
Everything you think, I know;
Your heart is so close to mine.
I have other symbols, even more intimate,
Come closer still, dare to invoke them.
Come, like a real dervish, and dance among us,
Don't joke, don't boast I am already present.
n the center of your house I am like a pillar,
On your rooftop I bow my head like a gutter.
I turn like a cup in the heart of your assembly;
In the thick of your battles, I strike like an arrow.
When I give my life for yours, what Grace descends!
Each life I give gives you a thousand new worlds!
In this house, there are thousands of corpses.
You sit and say: "Here is my kingdom."
A handful of dust moans: "I was hair."
Another handful whispers: "I was bones."
Another cries: "I was old."
Yet another: "I was young."
Another shouts: "Stop where you are! Stop!
Don't you know who I am! I am so-and-so's son!"
You sit destroyed, astounded, and then suddenly Love appears.
"Come closer still," Love says, "it is I, Eternal Life."

(trans Andrew Harvey)

Source: The Rumi Collection

800. Dialogue in a Dream, by Ryokan

Begging food, I went to the village.
On the road I met a wise old teacher.
He asked, "Monk, why are you living
among the white shrouded peaks?"
In return I asked him, "Why are you
growing old in the midst of the city's dust?"
We were each about to answer, but neither had
spoken before the bell shattered my dream.

(trans Dennis Maloney and Hide Oshiro)

Source: Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan

801. "Night fills the house with its funereal breeze..." by Victor Hugo

Night fills the house with its funereal breeze.
Not a sound. Darkness. Shadowy forms creep
To and fro beside those who are asleep.
While I become a thing,
                                    I feel the things nearby
Being transformed to living entities.
My wall's a face, and sees;
                                         Against the grayish sky
My two pale windows watch me slumbering.

(trans. E. H. and A. M. Blackmore)

Source: Selected Poems of Victor Hugo: A Bilingual Edition

802. Untitled, by Utpalaraja

When I think how I have known
parties where the lyre was heard
and the heavenly voice of poets,
and when I think of anguish
and of partings from my friends;
rejoicing for a moment, then despairing,
I know not what to call the world:
whether made of nectar or of poison.

(trans Daniel H. H. Ingalls)

Source: Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara's Treasury

803. America, by Claude McKay

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

Source: Selected Poems