Willow by Anna Akhmatova

In the young century’s cool nursery,

In its checkered silence, I was born.

Sweet to me was not the voice of man,

But the wind’s voice was understood by me.

The burdocks and the nettles fed my soul,

But I loved the silver willow best of all.

And, grateful for my love, it lived

All its life with me, and with its weeping

Branches fanned my insomnia with dreams. But

– Surprisingly enough! – I have outlived

It. Now, a stump’s out there. Under these skies,

Under these skies of ours, are other

Willows, and their alien voices rise.

And I am silent… As though I’d lost a brother.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), 1940

– from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)

– translation by D. M. Thomas

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The Just by Jorge Luis Borges

A man who cultivates a garden, the way Voltaire wanted.

One who is grateful there is music in the world.

Who delights in knowing where words come from.

Two workmen who, in a cafe in the South, play chess silently.

The potter who deliberates over form and colour.

The typesetter who lays out this page well but still is not pleased

A woman and a man reading the last tercets of a certain canto.

One who strokes a sleeping animal.

Who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done to him.

Who is grateful for Stevenson,

Who prefers others to be right.

These are people who, ignored, are saving the world.

 

by Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986, Argentina

translated by Kurt Heinzelman