Category Archives: favorite poems

Favorite Poems: “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

(Listen to Benedict Cumberbatch reciting it.)

 

1.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
**My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
**One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
**But being too happy in thine happiness,—
****That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
**********In some melodious plot
**Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
****Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

2.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
**Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
**Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
**Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
****With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
**********And purple-stained mouth;
**That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
****And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

3.

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
**What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
**Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
**Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
****Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
**********And leaden-eyed despairs,
**Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
****Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

4.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
**Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
**Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
**And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
****Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
**********But here there is no light,
**Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
****Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

5.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
**Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
**Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
**White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
****Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
**********And mid-May’s eldest child,
**The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
****The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

6.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
**I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
**To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
**To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
****While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
**********In such an ecstasy!
**Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
****To thy high requiem become a sod.

7.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
**No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
**In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
**Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
****She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
**********The same that oft-times hath
**Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
****Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

8.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
**To toil me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
**As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
**Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
****Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep
**********In the next valley-glades:
**Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
****Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Advertisements

Favorite Poems: The Jars by Paul Celan

(translated by Pierre Joris)

 

At the long table of time
God’s jars are boozing.
They guzzle the eyes of the seeing and the eyes of the blind,
the hearts of the ruling shadows,
the hollow cheek of evening.
They are the mightiest of boozers:
they raise to their lips the empty as well as the full
and don’t spill over like you or I.

 

original German poem

 

 


Favorite Poems: The Black Messengers (Los Heraldos Negros) by César Vallejo

(translated by Rachel Benson)


There are some blows in life so hard… I don’t know!
Blows that seem to come from God’s hatred; as if before them,
the backwash of all suffering
were welling into my soul…I don’t know!

They are few, but they are… They open dark furrows
in the toughest faces and the strongest backs.
Perhaps they are the colts of barbarous attilas;
or the black messengers sent us by Death.

They are the grave downfall of the soul’s Christs,
of some adorable faith that Destiny curses.
Those bloody blows are the crackling
of bread heating for us at the oven door.

And man… Poor… poor man! He turns his head
the way we do when a hand is clapped on our shoulder;
he turns his crazed eyes, and all living
is damned up in that glance, like a puddle of guilt.

There are some blows in life so hard… I don’t know!

 

read the poem in the original Spanish

 


The Leper by Seo Jeong-ju

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Sun and sky
grieved the leper so

when the moon rose over the barley field
he ate a baby

and all night long cried a cry, red like a flower

 

*According to Korean folklore,  leprosy could be cured by eating the liver of a child.