Sunday, January 31, 2010

Night walk, by Franz Wright

Frederic Chopin - Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48, No. 1
with Arthur Rubistein

The all-night convenience store's empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to but a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday's newspaper --
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It's unendurable, unendurable.

from God's Silence: Poems

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.6 in B minor Op. 74
IV. Finale (Adagio lamentoso - Andante)
Leningrad Philharmonic, with Evgeny Mravinsky, 1960

The lungs hold grief hostage
behind bone bars, hold the grief
though its torch keeps singeing
bat memories on jagged flights.

The heart knows where the key
is that will cleave a door, a door
or many for the bats to break
down and steal fire, and the light.

The heart holds the key hostage,
wants to blunt it, hide it, kill it
for what would be left behind
the blood flood, a different death.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A poem from my diary, by Avrom Sutzkever

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - String Quartet No.1, Op. 11 in D major, 1871
II. Andante cantabile, with Borodin Quartet

Who will remain, what will remain? A wind will stay,
the blindness of the blind man who has gone away,
a string of foam, the sign of the sea,
a little cloud entangled in a tree.

Who will remain, what will remain?
A primeval seed will sprout again
A fiddle-rose honoring herself will live.
Seven blades of grass will know what's hers to give.

Of all the stars due north of here,
the one that landed in a tear will stay.
There will always be a drop of wine left over in its jug.
Who will stay? God will stay. Isn't that enough?

translated from the Yiddish by Myra Mniewski

thank you VV for this post

Sunday, January 3, 2010

At the End of the Year, by John O'Donohue

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Waltz of the Flowers, The Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline's longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.