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poetry magazine, poetry translations, S. Ye Laird, Susan Laird
     with S. Ye Laird

--  Translating  William Edgar Stafford ( 1914 - 1993 )

A Ritual to Read to Each Other 

If you don't know the kind of person I am

and I don't know the kind of person you are

a pattern that others made

may prevail in the world

and following the wrong god home

we may miss our star.


For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,

a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break

sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood

storming out to play through the broken dike.


And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,

but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,


I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty

to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.[1]


And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,

a remote important region in all who talk:

though we could fool each other, we should consider—

lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.


For it is important that awake people be awake,

or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;

the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —

should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

唱对台戏    by S. Ye Laird

























所有信以为真的人:  是与非 或是或非

--  必须 言从心镜

世道的黑暗 何其甚乎?

[1]Note:  This marks a turning point in the translation when it deviated from the tone of the original. "Not recognize the fact" gets translated as 「對戲路不聞不問」. The English original alludes to a type of unintentional ignorance whereas the Chinese version explicitly mentions it as indifference. On a related note, the  translated version perhaps overemphasizes the elephant/circus imagery in the original and takes it all the way to the end of the poem. For example, 「人生舞台」 (life as a stage), 「假戲真做」(loose translation: "acting"out fictional plot lines in real life).  - by H.Lee

        Two poems by Daniil Kharms (1905 - 1942)     

        --  Translated by Alex Cigale*    


«Люблю порой смотреть в окно…»


Люблю порой смотреть в окно

И наблюдать других людей заботы

Люблю порой смотреть в окно

Тем самым уклоняясь от работы.


Я долго, пристально смотрю

В лицо молоденькой еврейки

Стараясь прочитать в чертах её лица

Законы женских чар


        I love at times to look out the window

        And to observe other people's concerns.

        I love at times to look out the window

        And through this leave behind my work.


        For a long time I stare very intently

        Into the face of a young Jewish girl

        Seeking to decipher in her expressions

        The regulations of womanly charms.


                1936 - 1937



poetry magazine, poetry translations

    Я долго думал об орлах

     и понял многое:

     орлы летают в облаках,

     летают никого не трогая.


     Я понял, что живут орлы на скалах и в горах

     и дружат с водяными духами.

     Я долго думал об орлах,

     но спутал, кажется, их с мухами.


        I thought of eagles for a long time

        and understood such a whole lot:

        the eagles soar above the clouds,

        they fly and fly and touch no one.


        They live on cliffs and on mountains

        and are intimate with water sprites,

        I thought a long time about eagles

        but confused them, I think, with flies.


             15 марта 1939

Poems by Jan Saturnovsky ( 1913 - 1982)

                   translated by Alex Cigale 

        Kha and Veh


        and Vvedensky.


        The forest resurrects.

        Rust-colored scum—

        even it again rises.

        But these two

        will never wake again.

                --   July 4, 1967

        I am a small man.

        I write small poems.


        I want to write one thing

        and another emerges.


        The poem realizes itself.

        The poem itself urges.


                 -- Jan. 26, 1969


As long as intellectual labor

provides aesthetic satisfaction

let us consider this: what if we turn

our attention to the sphere of conscience?


      -- Feb 11, 1971

In perfect pitch the outdoor brass orchestra,

the horns in pace with the concert master,

the sound quality ascending to the stars,

violins on key - like on his web the spider;

and swooning couples stride along the street

(as it was written, two of every monster.)

       --  Yalta, Apr. 30, 1974

Above all else the gall to know this is poetry.

*permission generously granted by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg, editors with

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