translated from the Spanish by William George Williams

Lord, I ask a garden in a quiet spot
where there may be a brook with a good flow,
an humble little house covered with bell-flowers,
and a wife and a son who shall resemble Thee.

I should wish to live many years, free from hates,
and make my verses, as the rivers
that moisten the earth, fresh and pure.
Lord, give me a path with trees and birds.

I wish that you would never take my mother,
for I should wish to tend to her as a child
and put her to sleep with kisses, when somewhat old
she may need the sun.

I wish to sleep well, to have a few books,
an affectionate dog that will spring upon my knees,
a flock of goats, all things rustic,
and to live off the soil tilled by my own hand.

To go into the field and flourish with it;
to seat myself at evening under the rustic eaves,
to drink in the fresh mountain perfumed air
and speak to my little one of humble things.

At night to relate him some simple tale,
teach him to laugh with the laughter of water
and put him to sleep thinking that he may later on
keep that freshness of the moist grass.

And afterward, the next day, rise with dawn
admiring life, bathe in the brook,
milk my goats in the happiness of the garden
and add a strophe to the poem of the world.

 


 

Señor, yo pido un huerto 

 

Señor, yo pido un huerto en un rincón tranquilo
donde haya una quebrada con aguas abundantes
una casita humilde cubierta de campánulas,
y una mujer y un hijo que sean como Vos.

Yo quisiera vivir muchos años, sin odios,
y hacer como los ríos que humedecen la tierra
mis versos y mis actos frescos y de puros.
Señor, dadme un sendero con árboles y pájaros.

Yo deseo que nunca os llevéis a mi madre,
porque a mi me gustara cuidarla cual a un niño
y dormirla con besos, cuando ya viejecita 
necesite del sol.

Quiero tener buen sueño, algunos pocos libros
un perro cariñoso que me salte a las piernas,
un rebaño de cabras, toda cosa silvestre,
y vivir de la tierra labrada por mis manos.

Salir a la campiña, y florecer en ella;
sentarme por la tarde, bajo el rústico alero,
a beber aire fresco y olorosa a montaña,
y hablarle a mi pequeño de las cosas humildes

Por la noche contarle algún cuento sencillo,
enseñarle a reír con la risa del agua
y dormirle pensando en que pueda, a la tarde,
guardar esa frescura de la hierba embebida;

y luego, al otro día, levantarme a la aurora
admirando la vida, bañarme en la quebrada,
ordeñar a mis cabras en la dicha del huerto,
y agregar una estrofa al poema del mundo.

From Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated From the Spanish by English and North American Poets (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920), edited by Thomas Walsh. Translated from the Spanish by William G. Williams. This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

              10

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

Copyright © 1956, 1984, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust from The Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage. Reprinted by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,--

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

This poem is in the public domain.

The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift, 
  The road is forlorn all day, 
Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift, 
  And the hoof-prints vanish away. 
The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
  Expend their bloom in vain. 
Come over the hills and far with me, 
  And be my love in the rain. 

The birds have less to say for themselves 
  In the wood-world’s torn despair
Than now these numberless years the elves, 
  Although they are no less there: 
All song of the woods is crushed like some 
  Wild, easily shattered rose. 
Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,
  Where the boughs rain when it blows. 

There is the gale to urge behind 
  And bruit our singing down, 
And the shallow waters aflutter with wind 
  From which to gather your gown.    
What matter if we go clear to the west, 
  And come not through dry-shod? 
For wilding brooch shall wet your breast 
  The rain-fresh goldenrod. 

Oh, never this whelming east wind swells   
  But it seems like the sea’s return 
To the ancient lands where it left the shells 
  Before the age of the fern; 
And it seems like the time when after doubt 
  Our love came back amain.      
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout 
  And be my love in the rain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Remember not the promises we made
In this same garden many moons ago.
You must forget them. I would have it so.
Old vows are like old flowers as they fade
And vaguely vanish in a feeble death.
There is no reason why your hands should clutch
At pretty yesterdays. There is not much
Of beauty in me now. And though my breath
Is quick, my body sentient, my heart
Attuned to romance as before, you must
Not, through mistaken chivalry, pretend
To love me still. There is no mortal art
Can overcome Time’s deep, corroding rust.
Let Love’s beginning expiate Love’s end.

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.

Let it be said
that Tim's year was divided
into two seasons: sneakers
and flip-flops. Let us
remember that Tim
would sometimes throw a football
with all the requisite grip, angle
and spiral-talk. Let us recall
that for the sake of what was left
of appearances, my mother
never once let him sleep
in her bed; he snored all over
our dog-chewed couch, and in
the mornings when I tip-toed
past him on my way
to school, his jowls
fat as a catcher's mitt, I never cracked
an empty bottle across that space
where his front teeth
rotted out. Nor did I touch
a struck match to that mole
by his lip, whiskery dot that—he 
believed—made him irresistable
to all lovelorn women.
Still, let us remember
sweetness: Tim lying face down,
Mom popping the zits
that dotted his broad, sun-spotted back,
which, though obviously
gross, gets the January photo
in my personal wall calendar
of what love should be,
if such a calendar
could still exist above my kitchen table
junked up with the heretos and
therefores from my
last divorce.
              Let us not forget
how my mother would slip
into her red cocktail dress
and Tim would say,
"Your mother is beautiful,"
before getting up
to go dance with someone else.
              In fairness, let me
confess that I pedaled
my ten-speed
across the Leaf River bridge
all the way to Tim's
other woman's house
and lay with that woman's daughter
beside the moon-
cold weight
of the propane tank, dumb
with liquor, numb to
the fire ants that we spread
our blanket over until
I stopped for a second
and looked up
because I wondered if
her mother could hear us,
or if Tim might not
have stood in the kitchen,
maybe looked out
the window and saw
my white ass pumping
in the moonlight,
and whispered
to himself, "That's my boy."

"Elegy for My Mother's Ex-Boyfriend" from Smote. Copyright © 2015 by James Kimbrell. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Sarabande Books, www.sarabandebooks.org.