The Swan by Euros Bowen

Today the art of our retreat
is to see portents and mystery –
To see colour and sinew, the flash of white
As the bare hills of the age are visited from heaven:
His solitude swims in the quiet of the water,
A pilgrim acquainted with sedges,
And he washes the weather of the lake with his form
That (as it were) spotlights the passion
Of a soul’s breath
As it goes its slow, bare way in the chill of March:
His neck became a vigil,
The immaculate arm of a hunter,
The poise there, the stance of his eye! –
And the flame of his beak plummeted down to the pool:
The mountains looked disquieted
As he resumed his glide, easing himself to the flood:
A shiver ran through his wings, then stopped,
And on a sharp beat he broke from the water:
Slowly he went, then up to the high air,
And the fire of his wings draws a soul from its cold.

by Euros Bowen (1904-1988)
(December 1987)
translated by Tony Conran

Additional information: The Welsh version is titled ‘Yr Alarch‘ but, unfortunately, I was unable to source a copy to confirm its wording and provide it as I have some other poems in translation previously. If you can, for the benefit of future readers to compare the translation and original, provide in the comments a link or the Welsh version it would be greatly appreciated.

That sanity be kept by Dylan Thomas

That sanity be kept I sit at open windows,
Regard the sky, make unobtrusive comment on the moon.
Sit at open windows in my shirt,
And let the traffic pass, the signals shine,
The engines run, the brass bands keep in tune,
For sanity must be preserved.

Thinking of death, I sit and watch the park
Where children play in all their innocence.
And matrons on the littered grass
Absorb the daily sun.

The sweet suburban music from a hundred lawns
Comes softly to my ears. The English mowers mow and mow.

I mark the couples walking arm in arm.
Observe their smiles,
Sweet invitations and inventions,
See them lend love illustration
By gesture and grimace.
I watch them curiously, detect beneath the laughs
What stands for grief, a vague bewilderment
At things not turning right.

I sit at open windows in my shirt,
Observe, like some Jehovah of the westerners
What passes by, that sanity be kept.

by Dylan Thomas
(1933)

Additional information: This was one of his first poems published in ‘Poet’s Corner’ of the Sunday Referee.

Recited to music by Cerys Matthews (Welsh musician and broadcaster)

Emerging by R. S. Thomas

Well, as I said, better to wait
for him on some peninsula
of the spirit. Surely for one
with patience he will happen by
once in a while. It was the heart
spoke. The mind, sceptical as always
of the anthropomorphisms
of the fancy, knew he must be put together
like a poem or a composition
in music, that what he conforms to
is art. A promontory is a bare
place; no God leans down
out of the air to take the hand
extended to him. The generations have
watched there
in vain. We are beginning to see
now it is matter is the scaffolding
of spirit; that the poem emerges
from morphemes and phonemes; that
as form in sculpture is the prisoner
of the hard rock, so in everyday life
it is the plain facts and natural happenings
that conceal God and reveal him to us
little by little under the mind’s tooling.

.

By R. S. Thomas
from Frequencies (1978)

Another Diet by Helen Hough

The more I think about losing weight,
The more I pile upon my plate.
The more I look in the mirror and see,
The more depressed I get about me.
I’ve tried all the diet’s that you can name,
It’s just that I hate the starvation pain.
I wish I had the will-power to fight,
Instead of eating night after night.
I’d like to lose quite a few stone,
Start to exercise and begin to tone,
I’d like to have the perfect figure,
Instead of feeling bigger and bigger.
they tell us to eat smaller quantities.
instead of a hoard.
But I know I eat because I’m bored.
I’m going to try and try again
It’s just that I hate the starvation pain.

.

By Helen Hough

(1992)

Cwyn y Gwynt (The Wind’s Lament) by John Morris-Jones

Sooner tears than sleep this midnight
Come into my eyes.
On my window the complaining
Tempest groans and sighs.

Grows the noise now of its weeping,
Sobbing to and fro –
On the glass the tears come hurtling
Of some wildest woe.

Why, O wind against my window,
Come you grief to prove?
Can it be your heart’s gone grieving
For its own lost love?

.

By John Morris-Jones
(1864 – 1929)
translated by Tony Conran

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Additional information: Sir John Morris-Jones (17 October 1864 – 16 April 1929) was a Welsh grammarian, academic and Welsh-language poet. In 1889 Morris-Jones was appointed as a lecturer in Welsh at the University College of North Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University) where he was promoted to professor in 1895, a post he held until his death. Morris-Jones worked to standardise Welsh orthography.

Beneath is the original Welsh language version of the poem.

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Cwyn y Gwynt

Cwsg ni ddaw i’m hamrant heno,
Dagrau ddaw ynghynt.
Wrth fy ffenestr yn gwynfannus
Yr ochneidia’r gwynt.

Codi’i lais yn awr, ac wylo,
Beichio wylo mae;
Ar y grwydr yr hyrddia’i ddagrau
Yn ei wylltaf wae.

Pam y deui, wynt, i wylo
At fy ffenestr i?
Dywed im, a gollaist tithau
Un a’th garai di?