A message from God
delivered by a bird
at my window, offering friendship.
Listen, such language!
Who said God was without
speech? Every word an injection
to make me smile. Meet me,
it says, to-morrow here
at the same time and you will remember
how wonderful to-day
was: no pain, no worry;
irrelevant the mystery, if
unsolved. I gave you the X-ray
eye for you to use not
to prospect, but to discover
the un-malignancy of love's
growth. You were a patient, too,
anaesthetised on truth's table
with life operating on you
with a green scalpel. Meet me, I say,
to-morrow and I will sing it for you
all over again, when you have come to.
By R.S. Thomas
from Experimenting with an Amen (1986)
There is deep meaning in a parting:
fleeting love, eternal love –
love’s but a dream, a dream’s but a moment…
Today, tomorrow – awakening is imminent.
And you wake up, at last.
by Фёдор Иванович Тютчев (Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev)
translated by Irina Mashinski
Fun Fact: Counted amongst the admirers of Tyutchev‘s works were Dostoevsky and Tolstoy along with Nekrasov and Fet then later Osip Mandelstam who, in a passage approved by Shalamov, believed that a Russian poet should not have copy of Tyutchev in his personal library – he should know all of Tyutchev off by heart.
To live in the moment’s a well-worn routine
that most of the world has perfected;
for some, it’s the moment that’s already been,
for others, the one that’s expected.
Yet no sort of magic can kindle anew
a past that is over forever,
nor summon the future before it is due:
our moment is now – or it’s never.
So brief is the moment in which we may live,
and future or past it isn’t.
Whoever would know of what life hast to give
must gratefully welcome the present.
by Piet Hein a.k.a Kumbel (1905-1996), Denmark
“I am air and fire…”
She has kissed lips already grown inhuman,
On her knees she has wept already before Augustus…
And her servants have betrayed her. Under the Roman
Eagle clamour the raucous trumpets, and the dusk has
Spread. And enter the last hostage to her glamour.
‘He’ll lead me, then, in triumph?’ ‘Madam, he will.
I know’t.’ Stately, he has the grace to stammer…
But the slope of her swan neck is tranquil still.
Tomorrow, her children… O, what small things rest
For her to do on earth – only to play
With this fool, and the black snake to her dark breast
Indifferently, like a parting kindness, lay.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), 1940
– from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)
– translation by D. M. Thomas