In that day language
shall expose its sores,
begging for the alms
we can not give. ‘Leave it’
we shall say, ‘on the pavement
of the quotidian.’ There is
a cause there is nobody
to plead, yet whose sealed lips
are its credentials. What
does the traveller to your door
ask, but that you sit down
and share with him that
for which there are no words?
I look forward to the peace
conferences of the future
when lies, hidden behind speeches,
shall have their smiles blown away
by the dove’s wings, fanning in silence.
by R. S. Thomas
Mass for Hard Times (1992)
the simplest, poorest words
as if they had never been said.
We were saying
sun, light, grass
as people pronounce
life, love, strength.
Remembered how we cleared
that eternal, accursed glacier
from the city streets – and an old man
stamped his foot against the pavement,
shouting, ‘Asphalt, friends, asphault!’
As if he were a sailor long ago,
calling out ‘Land, land!’
Ольга Фёдоровна Берггольц (Olga Fyodorovna Berggolts)
a.k.a. Olga Fyodorovna Bergholz
translated by Robert Chandler
Additional information: A Soviet poet, writer, playwright and journalist. She is most famous for her work on the Leningrad radio during the city’s blockade, when she became the symbol of the city’s strength and determination.