‘Blows The Swan Wind…’ by Anna Akhmatova

Blows the swan wind,

The blue sky’s smeared

With blood; the anniversary

Of your love’s first days draws near.

 

You have destroyed

My sorcery; like water the years

Have drifted by. Why

Aren’t you old, but as you were?

 

Your tender voice even more ringing…

Only your serene brow

Has taken from time’s wing

A scattering of snow.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1922)

– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas

The Sunlight On The Garden by Louis MacNeice

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)

The Constancy of Merriment and Dirt by Daniil Kharms

Cool Water gurgles in the river

and the mountains’ shadow lies on the fields

and light fades in the sky. And birds

are already flying in dreams.

And the yardman with the black moustache

stands all night by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

A day goes by, then a week,

and then the years go by

and people vanish

in neat ranks into their graves.

While the yardman with the black moustache

stands for years by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

The moon and the sun have paled,

constellations have changed shape,

motion has become sticky

and time has become like sand.

While the yardman with the black moustache

stands again by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms, 1933)

translated by Robert Chandler

The Sunlight On The Garden by Louis MacNeice

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)

Time by R. S. Thomas

The pessimist says: Time

goes; the optimist: It is coming.

 

What is this thing, time?

Let Augustine be our spokesman.

 

Its competitor knows its neurosis;

the lover the dragging of its chained feet.

 

Now, we say, looking at the moon

that is the sun in Australia.

 

We keep saving it for the future

and arriving there are insolvent.

 

Young, our hobby was assassinating it.

Old we pray for its recuperation.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Mass for Hard Times (1992)

Here In This Spring by Dylan Thomas

Here in this spring, stars float along the void;

Here in this ornamental winter

Down pelts the naked weather;

This summer buries a spring bird.

 

Symbols are selected from the years’

Slow rounding of four seasons’ coasts,

In autumn teach three seasons’ fires

And four birds’ notes.

 

I should tell summer from the trees, the worms

Tell, if at all, the winter’s storms

Or the funeral of the sun;

I should learn spring by the cuckooing,

And the slug should teach me destruction.

 

A worm tells summer better than the clock,

The slug’s a living calender of days;

What shall it tell me if a timeless insect

Says the world wears away?

 

by Dylan Thomas