Childhood Memories

Those years are foliage of trees
their trunks hidden by bushes;
behind them a gray haze topped with silver
hides the swinging steps of my first love
the Danube.

On its face
grave steel palaces with smoking torches,
parading monasteries moved slowly to the Black Sea
till the bared branches scratched the north wind.

On its bed
a great Leviathan waited
for the ceremonies on the arrival of Messiah
and bobbing small fishes snapped sun splinters
for the pleasure of the monster.

Along its shores
red capped little hours danced
with rainbow colored kites,
messengers to heaven.

My memory is a sigh
of swallows swinging
through a slow dormant summer
to a timid line on the horizon.

More by William Saphier

Flamingo Dreams

A green and copper-backed frog
keeps me from seeing
brick-colored eucalyptus flowers
dancing on an apple-green sky;
large rose-hued cotton fists
with gold knuckles
chase a blushing sun
into a purple, lead sea:
I am hungry and he is cautious.

Conscience

This evening more than ever
my ancient, despised Hebrew priest,
warped by the hot Arabian sun,
inflicted his heart-scorching sermon;
burnishing with impatient feet
a whisper of duty in my heart,
commanding, beseeching,
that I offer on his altar.
And a strong white-hot wind blew
my brothers’ woes into my viens.

Sadness

It is a huge curtain,
stretched at a distance around me.
Aimless gypsies crawl up and over the curtain.
They are my days.
They neither sing nor laugh
but hop over the top of my sadness.
Here and there one wears a gay shirt.
He is faster than the rest.
Even in my sleep with closed eyes
I cannot pierce this drapery.
Some day I will wind a child's smile around my face
and thus disguised
Slip through the curtain and jump...
Where?
Ah, yes, where?

Related Poems

On Summer

Esteville begins to burn;
The auburn fields of harvest rise;
The torrid flames again return,
And thunders roll along the skies.

Perspiring Cancer lifts his head,
And roars terrific from on high;
Whose voice the timid creatures dread;
From which they strive with awe to fly.

The night-hawk ventures from his cell,
And starts his note in evening air;
He feels the heat his bosom swell,
Which drives away the gloom of fear.

Thou noisy insect, start thy drum;
Rise lamp-like bugs to light the train;
And bid sweet Philomela come,
And sound in front the nightly strain.

The bee begins her ceaseless hum,
And doth with sweet exertions rise;
And with delight she stores her comb,
And well her rising stock supplies.

Let sportive children well beware,
While sprightly frisking o’er the green;
And carefully avoid the snare,
Which lurks beneath the smiling scene.

The mistress bird assumes her nest,
And broods in silence on the tree,
Her note to cease, her wings at rest,
She patient waits her young to see.

The farmer hastens from the heat;
The weary plough-horse droops his head;
The cattle all at noon retreat,
And ruminate beneath the shade.

The burdened ox with dauntless rage,
Flies heedless to the liquid flood,
From which he quaffs, devoid of gauge,
Regardless of his driver's rod.

Pomaceous orchards now expand
Their laden branches o'er the lea;
And with their bounty fill the land,
While plenty smiles on every tree.

On fertile borders, near the stream,
Now gaze with pleasure and delight;
See loaded vines with melons teem—
'Tis paradise to human sight.

With rapture view the smiling fields,
Adorn the mountain and the plain,
Each, on the eve of Autumn, yields
A large supply of golden grain.

A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July—

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear—

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

A Dream of T'ien-mu Mountain

Speak of the Blessed Islands men from the Ocean’s brim.
Truth is hid in their endless billows and mist-wreaths dim.
Tell of the T’ien-mu Mountain men in the land of Yore,
Seen there, when rainbows scatter, and clouds conceal no more!
Reaching up to the zenith, the skyline it seems to fill,
Huge like the Sacred Mountains piled over Ch’ihch’eng Hill.
T’ien-t’ai Mountain is fifty myriads of feet in height,
Crushing, about to fall, soaring in awful might!
Seeing, I longed to dream of Wu and the land of Yore:
Flew one night on a moonbeam over the Mirror’s shore.
Moon, that reflected my shadow dark on the lake below,
Carried me thence to Yen-ch’i, land that the spirits know.
Place where the ancient Hsieh dwelt is yet to be seen.
Gibbons howl by the water dimpling so purely green.
Bound on my feet the clogs were used by Hsieh of old,
Mounting the dun clouds ladder, halfway up I behold
Sea and Sun; and I hear mystic carols in Space.
Crags and hollows commingled, hard is the road to trace.
Flower-drugged, I lean on a rock. Lo! Night her shadow flings!
Bears’ roars and dragons’ bellowings boom over rocks and springs!
Startled, how forests quake on ridge over ridge of crags!
Black are the sombre clouds, waiting the rain to pour.
Placid the water still; above it the mist wraith lags.
Flash! and the hollow hills blasting the lightning tore.
Crash! and the stone gates burst of the vaulted sky in twain.
Boundless those azure spaces; end is there none in view.
Sunlight and moonbeams commingle golden and silver hue.
Clad in rainbows, and mounted on coursers of rapid wind,
Lords of the clouds come trooping; and trooping more behind.
Tiger roar of the drums, psalteries’ oriole note.
Orderly mixing disorder, crowding the genii float.
Suddenly feared my soul; twanging my spirit leapt.
Startled and trembling sprang I. Sorely I sighed and wept,
Feeling that I was awake; that it was but a dream now past.
Gone all those roseate hues the mist-wreaths had mingled last!
Thus are the joys of life! for all things pass away.
Streamlike flowing a-down, old Time will never stay.
Now, as I bid you farewell, when will you turn again,
Over the verdant mountains loosing the White Deer’s rein?
Wishing to go, we ride it seeking the famous hills….
Eyes must I bow, and body bending, submit to serve
Rich and powerful below, where never I may deserve
Happy a thought to think, or carelessly laugh at ills?