To live in the moment’s a well-worn routine
that most of the world has perfected;
for some, it’s the moment that’s already been,
for others, the one that’s expected.
Yet no sort of magic can kindle anew
a past that is over forever,
nor summon the future before it is due:
our moment is now – or it’s never.
So brief is the moment in which we may live,
and future or past it isn’t.
Whoever would know of what life hast to give
must gratefully welcome the present.
by Piet Hein (1905-1996), Denmark
The cuckoo I asked
How many years I would live… The
Pine tops shivered,
A yellow shaft fell to the grass.
In the fresh forest depths, no sound…
I am going
Home, and the cool wind
Caresses my hot brow.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1 June, 1919)
– from Подорожник (Plantain/Wayside Grass, 1921) translation by D. M. Thomas
Gift haphazard, unavailing,
Life, why wert thou given to me?
Why art thou to death unfailing
Sentencing by dark destiny?
Who in harsh despotic fashion
Once from Nothing called me out,
Filled my soul with burning passion
Vexed and shook my mind with doubt?
I can see no goal before me:
Empty heart and idle mind.
life monotonously o’er me
Roars, and leaves a wound behind.
by Александр Сергеевич Пушкин (Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin)
translated by C. M. Bowra
The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.
Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.
The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying
And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.
by Louis MacNeice (1907 – 1963)