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)
My breast grew cold and numb,
But my feet were light.
On to my right hand I fumbled
The glove to my left hand.
It seemed that there were many steps
-I knew there were only three.
An autumn whisper between the maples
Kept urging: ‘Die with me.
Change has made me weary,
Fate has cheated me of everything.’
I answered: ‘My dear, my dear!
I’ll die with you. I too am suffering.’
It was a song of the last meeting.
Only bedroom-candles burnt
When I looked into the dark house,
And they were yellow and indifferent.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1911, Tsarskoye Selo)
– from Вечер (Evening, 1912), translation by D. M. Thomas