How will the lion remain a lion
if it eat straw like the ox?
Where will the little child lead them
who has not been there before?
With our right hand off, with what
shall we beg forgiveness in the kingdom?
How shall the hare know it has not won,
dying before the tortoise arrive?
Did Christ crying ‘Neither do I condemn thee’,
condemn the prostitute to be good for nothing?
If he who increases riches increases sorrow
why are his tears more like pearls than the swine’s tusks?
by R. S. Thomas
from Mass for Hard Times (1992)
Freshness of words, simplicity of emotions,
If we lost these, would it not be as though
Blindness had stricken Fra Angelico,
Or an actor lost his power of voice and motion?
But don’t behave as if you own
What has been given you by the Saviour:
We ourselves know, we are condemned to squander
Our wealth, and not to save. Alone
Go out and heal the cataract,
And later, witness your own disciples’
Malice and jeers, and see the people’s
Stolid indifference to the act.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1915)
– from Белая стая (White Flock, 1917) translation by D. M. Thomas