Here I think of the centuries,
six million of them, they say.
Yesterday a fine rain fell;
today the warmth has brought out the crowds.
After Christ, what? The molecules
are without redemption. My shadow
sunning itself on this stone
remembers the lava. Zeus looked down
on a brave world, but there was
no love there; the architecture
of their temples was less permanent
than these waves. Plato, Aristotle,
all those who furrow the calmness
of their foreheads are responsible
for the bomb. I am charmed here
by the serenity of the reflections
in the sea's mirror. It is a window
as well. What I need
now is a faith to enable me to out-stare
the grinning faces of the inmates of its asylum,
the failed experiments God put away.
by R. S. Thomas
from Frequencies (1978)
In rainy weather
they gather together
To double – redouble –
a stake was no trouble,
They did not find it hard
to entrust to a card
So no day of rain
ever slipped by in vain,
by Александр Сергеевич Пушкин (Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin)
a.k.a. Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin
translated by Robert Chandler
This piece of course precedes Pushkin’s famous short story ‘The Queen of Spades’.
I found this 1916 silent film adaption in the Expressionist style, made famous by works such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, with burnt in English subtitles (give it a few moments at the start as they don’t show up immediately) which might be of interest if you have an hour to spare.
They say I pretend or lie
All I write. No such thing.
It simply is that I
Feel by imagining.
I don’t use the heart-string.
All that I dream or lose,
That falls short or dies on me.
Is like a terrace which looks
On another thing beyond.
It’s that thing leads me on.
And so I write in the middle
Of things not next one’s feet,
Free from my own muddle,
Concerned for what is not.
Feel? Let the reader feel!
by Fernando Pessoa
translated by Jonathon Griffin after the Portuguese of Fernando Pessoa
‘Isn’t the violet a dear little flower? And the daisy, too.
What nice little thoughts arise from a daisy!
If I were a poet now – but no, not a poet,
For a poet is a wild and blasphemous man;
He talks about wine and women too much for me
And he makes mad songs about old pagans, look you.
Poets are dangerous men to have in chapel,
And it is bad enough in chapel as it is
with all the quarelling over the organ and the deacons;
The deacons are not too nice to saintly young men like me.
(Look at Jenkins John Jones, the old damn scoundrel!)
They know I can pray for hours and hours,
They know what a righteous young man I am,
They know how my Bible is always in my pocket
And Abraham and Jonah like brothers to me,
But they prefer the proper preacher with his collar turned around;
They say he is more cultured than I am,
And what is culture but palaver and swank?
I turn up my nose at culture.
I stand up for faith, and very simple faith,
And knowledge I hate because it is poison.
Think of this devilish thing they call science,
It is Satan’s new trick to poison men’s minds.
When I shall be local councillor and a famous man –
I look forward to the day when I shall be mayor –
I will put my foot down on clever palaver,
And show what a righteous young man I am.
And they ought to know I am that already,
For I give all my spare cash to the chapel
And all my spare time to God.’
by Idris Davies