There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.
There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
And stare into the tangled fire garden,
Opening his slow lips like a snail.
There was Huw Puw, too. What shall I say?
I have heard him whistling in the hedges
On and on, as though winter
Would never again leave those fields,
And all the trees were deformed.
And lastly there was the girl:
Beauty under some spell of the beast.
Her pale face was the lantern
By which they read in life's dark book
The shrill sentence: God is love.
by R. S. Thomas
from The Bread of Truth (1963)
Winter approaches. And once again
The secret retreat of some bear
Will vanish under impassible mud
To a tearful child's despair.
Little huts will awaken in lakes
Reflecting their smoke like a path.
Encircled by autumn's cold slush,
Life-lovers will meet by the heath.
Inhabitants of the stern North,
Whose roof is the open air,
'In this sign conquer' is written
On each inaccessible lair.
I love you, provincial retreats,
Off the map, off the road, past the farm.
The more thumbed and grubby the book,
The greater for me its charm.
Slow lines of lumbering carts,
You spell out an alphabet leading
From meadow to meadow. Your pages
Were always my favourite reading.
And suddenly here it is written
Again, in the first snow – the spidery
Cursive italic of sleigh runners -
A page like a piece of embroidery.
A silvery-hazel October.
Pewter shine since the frosts began.
Autumnal twilight of Chekov,
Tchaikovsky and Levitan.
by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem:
Зима приближается. Сызнова
Какой-нибудь угол медвежий
Под слезы ребенка капризного
Исчезнет в грязи непроезжей.
Домишки в озерах очутятся,
Над ними закурятся трубы.
В холодных объятьях распутицы
Сойдутся к огню жизнелюбы.
Обители севера строгого,
Накрытые небом, как крышей!
На вас, захолустные логова,
Написано: сим победиши.
Люблю вас, далекие пристани
В провинции или деревне.
Чем книга чернее и листанней,
Тем прелесть ее задушевней.
Обозы тяжелые двигая,
Раскинувши нив алфавиты,
Вы с детства любимою книгою
Как бы посредине открыты.
И вдруг она пишется заново
Ближайшею первой метелью,
Вся в росчерках полоза санного
И белая, как рукоделье.
Блеск заморозков оловянный.
Осенние сумерки Чехова,
Чайковского и Левитана.
Solar batteries and
the great poets can
work directly off the sun;
while other batteries
and smaller poets need
charging up with fame,
or vodka, or perhaps
they get recharging from
other poets' usage.
by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий
(Boris Abramovich Slutsky)
translated by Elaine Feinstein
Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem (Honestly the translation above, though definitely based on the poem below, seem like it’s for a completely different poem with a similar theme but they share the name and I can find no alternatives that share the title!)
Физики поднаторели —
от солнца работают прямо.
А Гезиод задолго
до современной науки
только от солнца работал,
а также мы, его внуки.
Солнце, вёдро, счастье —
вот источники тока,
питающие все чаще
поэтов нашего толка.
Но мы и от гнева — можем,
и от печали — будем.
И все-таки книги вложим
в походные сумки людям.
Мы — от льгот и от тягот
вдоль вселенной несемся,
а батареи могут
только от солнца.
Additional information: I came across the following, that I’ve roughly translated from Russian, which is quite interesting about one of his other poems and a repeated theme he used.
“Physicists and Lyrics” ( 1959 ) – one of the most famous poems by Boris Slutsky .
According to the memoirs of Boris Slutsky, the poem was written in Tarusa inspired by the discussion of cybernetics theory by Igor Poletaev and Alexei Lyapunov with the writer Ilya Erenburg , which unfolded on the pages of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. The poem, where Slutsky sided with the opponents of Ehrenburg, was published in Literaturnaya Gazeta in the issue of October 13, 1959.
“Physicists and Lyrics” is one of the most famous poems by Slutsky. Its name has become a ‘winged expression’ [i.e what Russian like to refer to their ‘idioms’ as] and is used to refer to the division of “people of science and people of art”.
As Slutsky recalled, Erenburg reacted to the poem “with restrained perplexity,” and the poet Mikhail Dudin , when he was told that the poem was humorous, replied: “We do not understand jokes”. The motive of “physicists” sounded in Slutsky’s poetry both earlier and later (“They gave us black bread on cards …”, “Physicists and people”, “Solar batteries”, “Lyrics and physicists”), and the author’s attitude was not so clear. In a later poem, “Lyrics and Physics,” Slutsky refuses to acknowledge the victory of “physicists”.https://ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Физикиилирики_(стихотворение)
Friends recommended the new Polish film
at the Academy in Oxford Street.
So we joined the ever melancholy queue
of cinemas. A wind blew faint suggestions
of rain towards us, and an accordion.
Later, uneasy, in the velvet dark
we peered through the cut-out oblong window
at the spotlit drama of our nightmares:
images of Auschwitz almost authentic,
the human obscenity in close-up.
Certainly we could imagine the stench.
Resenting it, we forgot the barbed wire
was but a prop, and could not scratch the eye:
those striped victims merely actors like us.
We saw the Camp orchestra assembled,
we heard the solemn gaiety of Bach,
scored by the loud arrival of an engine,
its impotent cry, and its guttural trucks.
We watched, as we munched milk chocolate,
trustful children, no older than our own,
strolling into the chambers without fuss,
whilst smoke, black and curly, oozed from chimneys.
by Dannie Abse
from A Small Desperation
Interesting fact: Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family. He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Unusually for a middle-class Jewish boy, Dannie Abse attended St Illtyd’s College, a working-class Catholic school in Splott.
Lone sail against blue sea-mist:
what is it seeking?
Wind, waves, and bending mast:
In beam of gold, on azure
the rebel flees
for stormy seas.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов
(Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov)
translated by Anthony Wood
Below is the poem in its original Russian Cyrillic form:
Белеет парус одинокой
В тумане моря голубом!..
Что ищет он в стране далекой?
Что кинул он в краю родном?...
Играют волны — ветер свищет,
И мачта гнется и скрыпит...
Увы! Он счастия не ищет
И не от счастия бежит!
Под ним струя светлей лазури,
Над ним луч солнца золотой...
А он, мятежный, просит бури,
Как будто в бурях есть покой!
Additional notes: This is another alternative translation of Lermontov’s poem Парус compared to those made by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman and Robert Chandler which, respectively, closely reproduced the original’s external form and presented a version which is more condensed. This version is the most concise retaining the incredible impact of the poem without losing it’s meaning.
The Sail was written when Mikhail Lermontov was only 17 years old in 1832. This was the year when he was forced to leave Moscow and his university studies. Recorded in a letter sent by Maria Lopukhina, whom he had sent the first version of the poem, upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg Lermontov immediately produced this poem’s outline while walking along the Gulf of Finland’s shoreline.
Stopped the car, asked a man the way
To some place; he rested on it
Smiling, an impression of charm
As of ripe fields; talking to us
He held a reflection of sky
In his brushed eyes. We lost interest
In the way, seeing him old
And content, feeling the sun's warmth
In his voice, watching the swallows
Above him – thirty years back
To this summer. Knowing him gone,
We wander the same flower-bordered road,
Seeing the harvest ripped from the land,
Deafened by the planes' orchestra;
Unable to direct the lost travellers
Or convince them this is a good place to be.
by R. S. Thomas
from H'm (1972)
I still believe that I return to life,
shall wake early one day, at dawn,
in the light, early hours, in the transparent dew,
where the branches are studded with drops,
and a small lake stands in the sundew's bowl,
reflecting the swift flight of the clouds.
And, inclining my young face, I shall gaze
at a drop of water as on a miracle,
and tears of rapture will flow, and the world,
the whole world will be seen, wide and far.
I still believe that early one day,
in the sparkling cold, it will again
return to me in my poverty,
in my joyless wisdom,
not daring to rejoice and to sob...
by Ольга Фёдоровна Берггольц
(Olga Fyodorovna Berggolts)
a.k.a. Olga Fyodorovna Bergholz
translated by Daniel Weissbort
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.
Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.
Я все еще верю, что к жизни вернусь,-
однажды на раннем рассвете проснусь.
На раннем, на легком, в прозрачной росе,
где каплями ветки унизаны все,
и в чаше росянки стоит озерко,
и в нем отражается бег облаков,
и я, наклоняясь лицом молодым,
смотрю как на чудо на каплю воды,
и слезы восторга бегут, и легко,
и виден весь мир далеко-далеко...
Я все еще верю, что раннее утро,
знобя и сверкая, вернется опять
ко мне - обнищавшей,
не смеющей радоваться и рыдать...