The Lover’s Hope by Salbri Powel

I’m but an ailing poet,
I cannot keep it secret:
My voice grows faint for her fair face
Who’s gone chase flibbertigibbet.

And now, no lad’s so simple
Or lusty cheery damsel
But’s glad enough to joke and pick
And hand me a stick of hazel.

In Gwaun y Plu I’ll gather
And plant each stick together;
If you can trust an old wive’s tale
The twigs can’t fail to prosper.

And when the nuts shall ripen
And the birds sing their burden,
Fairer than fair she’ll come therein
Like a linnet in my garden.

And there, there’ll be no coupling
Of art in my new dwelling –
Only the birdsong, sweet on the bud,
And gentle greenwood growing.

And there I’ll be desiring
A bed, in shelter hiding,
To have, O lovely form, with her
A skilful, tender loving.

by Saldri Powel
(16th century)

‘All that is human slips away’ by Varlam Shalamov

All that is human slips away;

everything was mere husk.

All that is left, indivisible,

is birdsong and dusk.

A sharp scent of warm mint,

the river’s far-off noise;

all equal, and equally light –

all my losses and joys.

Slowly, with its warm towel

the wind dries my face;

moths immolate themselves

in the campfire’s flames.

 

by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)

(1955)

translated by Robert Chandler