translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky
(To My Mother)
A great star will fall into my lap. . .
We would hold vigil tonight,
Praying in languages
That are carven like harps.
We would be reconciled tonight—
So fully God overwhelms us.
Our hearts are only children,
Eager for weary-sweet slumber.
And our lips would kiss each other,
Why are you fearful?
Does not your heart border upon mine—
Your blood always dyes my cheeks red.
We would be reconciled tonight,
If we clasp each other, we shall not perish.
A great star will fall into my lap.
Es wird ein großer Stern in meinen Schoß fallen. . .
Wir wollen wachen die Nacht,
In den Sprachen beten,
Die wie Harfen eingeschnitten sind.
Wir wollen uns versöhnen die Nacht—
So viel Gott strömt über.
Kinder sind unsere Herzen,
Die möchten ruhen müdesüß.
Und unsere Lippen wollen sich küssen,
Was zagst du?
Grenzt nicht mein Herz an deins—
Immer färbt dein Blut meine Wangen rot.
Wir wollen uns versöhnen die Nacht,
Wenn wir uns herzen, sterben wir nicht.
Es wird ein großer Stern in meinen Schoß fallen.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
If I should worship at thine ancient shrine,
Where thy good sons, incensed by love of war,
Now clamor, as their fathers did of yore—
If I should sacrifice what is not mine,
Nor any living god’s, nor even thine—
If for the sake of honor I must pour
This cup of life upon thy barren shore,
How will it fare then with my love divine?
No! let thy sons go forth to burn and slay:
Let them for love of thee and glory smear
And tear the love of all that’s pure and dear;
Let them this loveless love in rage display;
I can not join them; no, I can not cheer
As they beneath my window pass to-day.
What care I for the tears the maudlin crowd
Sheds o’er my bier—for praise of Church and State—
For glory that remains within the gate
Of worldly things—for men’s esteem avowed—
For freedom that is not with love endowed—
For fame that lingers oft and comes too late,
When these the sorrow of my love create
And haunt her with the shadow of my shroud?
How cowardly, self-centered have I grown—
How dead to true and noble feelings all?
Why not, when they the human soul enthrall—
Why not, when they the beast in man enthrone?
I cling to love, and with love I will fall,
Unwept, unsung, unhonored and unknown.
What will these kings and war-lords of the land
And all their ministers of murder fell
Do with their arms and fleets—all tools of hell—
If every son of man resolve to stand
A-wielding, king-like, in his home the wand,
Beside the ones he loves and honors well?
Can force this gentle host of peace compel,
When loving hearts their amber wings expand?
O love, though hounded, outlawed we may be—
Though Slander, dagger-drawn, be on our trail—
Though Hatred with her hydra tongues should rail
At us, and though left sinking in the sea
Of ostracism, ay, never will I quail,
But will now and forever cling to thee.
From Myrtle and Myrrh (The Gorham Press, 1905) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.
Incised in concrete
frond a perfect
arrest of clarity
a palm frond arrow
from a declining sun
shadow and light
lust of epiphany
the illusion that walks
with me on concrete
shadow and light
epiphany of the shadow
tangible as light palm shape
holds me timeless until
without thinking I pass by
an arrest of clarity held
and released by a declining
sun : step over the shadow
light vanishes a passerby
From Writing the Silences (University of California Press, 2010) by Richard O. Moore. Copyright © 2010 by the Regents of the University of California. Used with permission of University of California Press Books.