Ooo, I love the Hips one
and @mellie, the Katie Donovan
and @Yossarian, both the ee cummings & the Elizabeth Bishop. Totally different & both beautiful.
To my delight, Ive found some poems by Menna Elfyn online, she writes in Welsh but now publishes bilingually, & she has some seriously good translators.
LET THE WORLD'S PEOPLE SHOUT
Have you noticed how time-free a person is
when approaching a new language?
Yes, you stumble over consonants,
encumbered with all the armour of your longing
for the conquest of expression.
And yes, your tongue is like
a baby bumping along on its bottom.
Well then, let each of the world's peoples learn
the excommunicated language of its neighbour,
yes, creep and crouch in corners,
lose sleep in messing it up,
since this is how tenses will be deleted.
The past will not come fluent on the tongue.
The language of today will stay. It will sue for peace,
pull down all the barbed-wire verbs.
The imperfect will never be so perfect
as when it ceases to exist.
And cleft, split, and rupture will be
made whole in the open mouth.
Each new learner will have the memory
of correcting constructions,
picking up one's bed, rectifying speech.
There will be no time for spreading hatred,
since the tribes will be overcome
by the riches of all the founding stones –
And through the babies in Babel
a yoke will be raised, a United Languages heal
in freeing oneself, freeing in sowing the seed.English translation by Joseph Clancy
Song of a voiceless person to British Telecom
Ga’ i rif yng Nghaerdydd , os gwelwch…’ *
‘GA I RIF YNG NGHAER-‘
‘Speak up- you’ll have to speak up’.
‘Speak up’ is, of course
The command to speak English.
I sentence myself to a lifetime
Of sentences that make no sense.
No pronunciation,no annunciation,
Inflection. I am infected
With dumbness. I can neither lampoon,
Sing in tune; much less can I
Intone. My grace-notes
Are neither music nor mumble.
I am not heard at Evening Prayer
Nor at triumphal Matins,
Nor am I that voice in the dusk
That is husky but vibrant.
An impediment, then? No. No thick tongue,
No chip on my shoulder, a compulsion to please.
And if I am without speech
What of the fluency of my people?
We are mutes, Trappists,
Conspirators in a corner.
The usurper’s language pierces
To the very centre of our being,
A minister of darkness before whose tread
Our civility must give ground.
From the safety of my television
I see nations forced into a hole,
Possessors of nothing but their dispossession,
Mufflers over their mouths,
Their captive craft under curfew.
There is an injunction against their speech,
And I perceive it is Y GYMMRAEG that we share.
So the next time I am commanded
To ‘speak up’
Deferring to the courtesy
That is our convention,
With like courtesy I will require the operator
To ‘pipe down’;
And like ‘sounding bras’
I will suggest the superfluousness of barbed wire,
Since our language has berylled wares.
I will sing and make contact
In cynghanedd**, as the small nations do,
A people in counterpoint
To the leit-motif, dominant
Though its pitch be,
Ending each time on the same
With the same passionate concern
Though mortally muted our metrics.
‘A nawr a ga i-
y rhif yna yng Nghaerdydd’.Translated from the Welsh by R.S Thomas* Can I have a number in Cardiff, please...
** Welsh traditional verse metre
Oh and I found a new poet (new to me), Tracey Herd.
When he’s away she doesn’t like it much,
Pushing the reheated food around the plate,
The big, brass key rigid in the lock
Which she’ll go back three times
To check before turning off the radio
And taking the water-glass to bed.
Christie, Sayers, Marsh are sitting
Well-mannered on the shelf
Pushed in tight to keep
Their suave murderers inside,
Their victims choked cries unheard.
She turns over onto her other side
Pushing the pillows forward, back,
Thinking of the spinster pulling weeds
And tidying the tubs in her well-tended
Garden in St. Mary Mead, between murders
As it were, but soon will come
The poison pen, the bullet in the dark
That could have been blindly fired
When the house’s lights went out
But was only ever meant for one.Tracey Herd