Christmas; the themes are exhausted.
Yet there is always room
on the heart for another
snowflake to reveal a pattern.
Love knocks with such frosted fingers.
I look out. In the shadow
of so vast a God I shiver, unable
to detect the child for the whiteness.
by R. S. Thomas
from No Truce with the Furies (1995)
While the dolphin and the sea-horse
Played silly games together,
The ocean beat against the cliffs
And washed the cliffs with its water.
The scary water moaned and cried.
The stars shone. Years went by.
Then the horrid hour came:
I am no more, and so are you,
The sea is gone, the cliffs, the mountains,
And the stars gone, too;
Only the choir sounds out of the dead void.
And for simplicity’s sake, our wrathful God
Sprung up and blew away the dust of centuries,
And now, freed from the shackles of time
He flies alone, his own and only dearest friend.
Cold everywhere, and darkness blind.
by ‘Dandan‘ a pseudonym used by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Ivanovich Kharms)
a.k.a. Даниил Иванович Ювачёв (Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachov)
(15 October 1934)
translated by Matvei Yankelevich
Fun fact: A dandan or dendan is a mythical sea creature that appears in volume 9 of ‘The Book of One Thousand and One Nights’ (or more commonly ‘Arabian Nights’). It appears in the tale “Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman”, where the merman tells the fisherman that the dandan is the largest fish in the sea and is the enemy of the mermen. A dendan is capable of swallowing a ship and all its crew in a single gulp. Kharms was probably aware of this and thus played on it for one of his pseudonyms.
Don’t tempt me with your tender ruses,
with the return of passion’s blaze:
a disenchanted man refuses
inveiglements of former days!
My faith in faithfulness has faded,
my faith in love has passed its prime;
I won’t indugle another time
in dreams degrading and degraded.
Let blind despair not increase,
the things that were, pray, do not mention,
and, caring friend! allow the patient
to doze in long, untroubled peace.
I sleep, and sweet is relaxation;
let bygone dreams be laid to rest:
you will awaken agitation,
not love, in my tormented breast.
by Евгений Абрамович Баратынский (Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky)
translated by Boris Dralyuk
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themelves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you will purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
by R. S. Thomas
from H’m (1972)
I have banished God
further than the Antipodes
since my so-called accident.
He was the owner
of those mills of death,
his manager the old Cholera.
The preaching of Cheapjack remedies:
holding up heaven as a cure.
They took my eyes
and struck them
My mask and its perpetual night
is known to the pit-ponies.
Crossing the Iron Bridge
I hear the river’s voice
bring tune to my ballads,
the hooves of canal-horses
count beats and pauses come
as I breathe the welcome wind
from the west and eventual sea.
Night arrives and they all
share my mask: punchy drunkards,
rousing rebels and laughing ones
who sup to conquer daytime.
My daughter is the blackbird
giving flames to the begging hearth
of our basement with her song;
and I am the owl, I turn
to face their sufferings,
call them out to chase away
the chimney’s shadows. Masters
I magic to mice
under the death’s-head moon.
by Mike Jenkins
from Invisible Times
Fun fact: Richard Williams, better known as Dic Dywyll (Blind Dick) but also sometimes as Bardd Gwagedd (The Bard of Folly) was a renowned ballader in nineteenth century Merthyr, who was blinded working at the Crawshay ironworks. His daughter, Myfanwy, was immortalised in Joseph Parry‘s song.
This link gives you a little bit more information about Dic Dywyll if you’re interested: http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-WILL-RID-1790.html
Poor poet, was that really you,
addressing the moon in rhyme?
My eyes were dulled so long ago
by love, by cards and wine.
The moon climbs through the window frame.
White light, so white it blinds you…
I bet on the Queen of Spades,
but I played the Ace of Diamonds.
by Сергей Александрович Есенин (Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin)
a.k.a. Sergey Yesenin / Esenin
translated by Boris Dralyuk
Before death I have felt the dark of death;
I thought: like Ossian I shall lose my way
in mist by the grave’s edge and blindly stare
from wild moors down through the dim precipice
of dawnless night and see no trees, no fields
of freedom, no soft grass, no azure skies,
and no sun rising like a miracle.
Yet with the soul’s eye I shall see you, shades
of prophets, friends too soon flown out of sight,
and I shall hear the blessed poet’s song
and know each voice and recognize each face.
by Вильгельм Карлович Кюхельбекер (Wilhelm Karlovich Küchelbecker)
translated by Peter France
Fun fact: This was written after he went blind about a year before his death.