White on the blue, the sail has gone, to vanish with the breeze; what does the sailor seek alone in far-off seas?
His tackle tautens in the stress of favouring winds astir; alas, he seeks not happiness, nor flies from her.
The sun is bright above; below, the ripples curve and crease; he, rebel, craves a storm, as though in storm were peace.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov) (1832) translated by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman
Additional information: The Sail was written when Mikhail Lermontov was only 17 years old in 1832. This was the year when he was forced to leave Moscow and his university studies. Recorded in a letter sent by Maria Lopukhina, whom he had sent the first version of the poem, upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg Leromontov immediately produced this poem’s outline while walking along the Gulf of Finland’s shoreline.
Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.
Белеет парус одинокой В тумане моря голубом!.. Что ищет он в стране далекой? Что кинул он в краю родном?...
Играют волны — ветер свищет, И мачта гнется и скрыпит... Увы! Он счастия не ищет И не от счастия бежит!
Под ним струя светлей лазури, Над ним луч солнца золотой... А он, мятежный, просит бури, Как будто в бурях есть покой!
All men. Or shall we say, not chauvinistic, all people, it is all people? Beasts manure the ground, nibble to promote growth; but man, the consumer, swallows like the god of mythology his own kind. Beasts walk among birds and never do the birds scare; but the human, that alienating shadow with the Bible under the one arm and under the other the bomb, as often drawn as he is repelled by the stranger waiting for him in the mirror – how can he return home when his gaze forages beyond the stars? Pity him, then, this winged god, rupturer of gravity's control accelerating on and outward in the afterglow of a receding laughter?
by R. S. Thomas from No Truce With The Furies (1995)
Dressed like a child for our ritual Sunday afternoon pilgrimage to the hillside: your pear-shaped hood, scarf wound like a snake and red ski-boots dragged along like grown-up things worn for a dare.
When I laugh, I don't mean it to hurt. It is the brother of the laugh at the end of our laugh-making - rigid bones melting into blood.
The moor grass has turned into a frosty yellow, its green gone deep into hibernation. We crunch mud, step streams, in games which strip us of years like the trees have been of their leaves. The water and your green eyes share the only motion.
You see a red berry and call it a ladybird. I think of your city upbringing; the seasons being passing strangers through Belfast streets where you cadged rides from the ice.
When the brook's chatter is snow-fed, your laughter is tangled in thorn. You discover an ice sculpture mounted on a spine of reed, and call it 'Teeth and Jaws'. The light of your words travels through it.
High above Merthyr, mountain lapping mountain. You are amazed at the rarified sunlight! When you speak, the numb streets are startled. We leave the childhood of the moorland, to grow taller with a tiredness which is the sister of when we lie, translucent and still, on the single spine of the bed.
by Mike Jenkins from Empire of Smoke
Additional information: Mike Jenkins (born 1953) is a Welsh poet, story writer and novelist writing in English. He taught English at Radyr Comprehensive School in Cardiff for nearly a decade and Penydre High School, Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil, for some two decades before that. At the end of the 2008–2009 academic year Jenkins took voluntary redundancy. He now writes full-time, capitalising on experiences gleaned from former pupils. He continues to live in Merthyr Tydfil, and has done so for over 30 years. He is also the father of Plaid Cymru politician Bethan Jenkins and journalist Ciaran Jenkins.
Armed with wasp-vision, with the vision of wasps that suck, suck, suck the earth's axis, I'm filled by the whole deep vein of my life and hold it here in my heart and in vain.
And I don't draw, don't sing, don't draw a black-voiced bow over strings: I only drink, drink, drink in life and I love to envy wasp- waisted wasps their mighty cunning.
O if I too could be impelled past sleep, past death, stung by the summer's cheer and chir, by this new air to hear earth's axis, axis, axis.
by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam.) His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam) (8 February 1937) translated by Robert Chandler
Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.
Вооруженный зреньем узких ос, Сосущих ось земную, ось земную, Я чую всё, с чем свидеться пришлось, И вспоминаю наизусть и всуе.
И не рисую я, и не пою, И не вожу смычком черпоголосым, Я только в жизнь впиваюсь и люблю Завидовать могучим, хитрым осам.
О, если б и меня когда-нибудь могло Заставить, сон и смерть минуя, Стрекало Еоздуха и летнее тепло Услышать ось земную, ось земную.
Extra information: The wasp-waist was a fashion regarding awomen’s fashion silhouette, produced by a style of corset and girdle, that has experienced various periods of popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its primary feature is the abrupt transition from a natural-width rib cage to an exceedingly small waist, with the hips curving out below. It takes its name from its similarity to a wasp’s segmented body. The sharply cinched waistline also exaggerates the hips and bust.
To put it bluntly Mandelstam is talking about admiring women, at least in part, in this poem.
Mandelstam was said to have had an affair with the poet Anna Akhmatova. She insisted throughout her life that their relationship had always been a very deep friendship, rather than a sexual affair. In the 1910s, he was in love, secretly and unrequitedly, with a Georgian princess and St. Petersburg socialite Salomea Andronikova, to whom Mandelstam dedicated his poem “Solominka” (1916).
In 1922, Mandelstam married Nadezhda Khazina in Kiev, Ukraine, where she lived with her family. He continued to be attracted to other women, sometimes seriously. Their marriage was threatened by his falling in love with other women, notably Olga Vaksel in 1924-25 and Mariya Petrovykh in 1933-34.
During Mandelstam’s years of imprisonment, 1934–38, Nadezhda accompanied him into exile. Given the real danger that all copies of Osip’s poetry would be destroyed, she worked to memorize his entire corpus, as well as to hide and preserve select paper manuscripts, all the while dodging her own arrest. In the 1960s and 1970s, as the political climate thawed, she was largely responsible for arranging clandestine republication of Mandelstam’s poetry.
The idiot goes round and around With his brother in a bumping car At the fair. The famous idiot Smile hangs over the car's edge, Illuminating nothing. This is mankind Being taken for a ride by a rich Relation. The responses are fixed: Bump, smile; bump, smile. And the current
Is generated by the smooth flow Of the shillings. This is an orchestra Of steel with the constant percussion Of laughter. But where he should be laughing Too, his features are split open, and look! Out of the cracks come warm, human tears.