Poetry Translations

with Susan McLean

Merciless Beauty

I  Captivity

Your eyes will slay me suddenly;

their beauty I cannot sustain;

I am wounded so, through my heart keen.

 

Unless with your word you will hastily

heal my heart’s wound while it remains green,

    your eyes will slay me suddenly;

    their beauty I cannot sustain.

 

In all truth, I tell you faithfully

you are of life and death my queen;

for with my death this truth shall be seen:

   your eyes will slay me suddenly;

   their beauty I cannot sustain;

   I am wounded so, through my heart keen.

 

 

II  Rejection

 

Your beauty from your heart has so erased

Pity, that it’s useless to complain,

For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

I’m guiltless yet my sentence has been passed.

I tell you truly, needless now to feign—

   Your beauty from your heart has so erased

   Pity, that it’s useless to complain.

Alas, that Nature in your face has placed

Beauty so great that no man may attain

Your mercy, though he perish from the pain;

   Your beauty from your heart has so erased

   Pity, that it’s useless to complain,

   For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

III  Escape

 

Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,

I never plan to be locked up and lean;

Now free, I think Love isn’t worth a bean.

He may answer me and argue this and that;

I care not: I will say whatever I mean.

   Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,

   I never plan to be locked up and lean.

Love struck me from his roster, short and flat,

And he is struck from my books, just as clean

Forevermore; there is no other mean.

   Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,

   I never plan to be locked up and lean;

   Now free, I think Love isn’t worth a bean.

Michael R. Burch has over 5,000 publications, including poems that have gone viral. His poems have been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by five composers. He also edits The HyperTexts.

Merciles Beaute

I

Your yën two wol sle me sodenly,

I may the beaute of hem not sustene,

So woundeth hit through-out my herte kene.

 

And but your word wol helen hastily

My hertes wounde, whyl that hit is grene,

     Your yën two wol sle me sodenly;

     I may the beaute of hem not sustene.

 

Upon my trouthe I sey yow feithfully,

That ye ben of my lyf and deth the queen;

For with my deth the trouthe shal be sene.

     Your yën two wol sle me sodenly,

     I may the beaute of hem not sustene,

     So woundeth hit through-out my herte kene.

II

 

So hath your beaute fro your herte chaced

Pitee, that me ne availeth not to pleyne;

For Daunger halt your mercy in his cheyne.

 

Giltles my deth thus han ye me purchaced;

I sey yow soth, me nedeth not to feyne;

    So hath your beaute fro your herte chaced

    Pitee, that me ne availeth not to pleyne

Allas! that Nature hath in yow compassed

So gret beaute, that no man may atteyne

To mercy, though he sterve for the peyne.

    So hath your beaute fro your herte chaced

    Pitee, that me ne availeth not to pleyne;

    For Daunger halt your mercy in his cheyne.

III

 

Sin I fro Love escaped am so fat,

I never thenk to ben in his prison lene;

Sin I am fre, I counte him not a bene.

He may answere, and seye this and that;

I do no fors, I speke right as I mene.

    Sin I fro Love escaped am so fat,

    I never thenk to ben in his prison lene.

Love hath my name y-strike out of his sclat,

And he is strike out of my bokes clene

For ever-mo; [ther] is non other mene.

    Sin I fro Love escaped am so fat,

    I never thenk to ben in his prison lene;

    Sin I am fre, I counte him not a bene.

 

 

Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340-1400) has been called the “Father of English literature.” Most famous for The Canterbury Tales, he has also been credited with legitimizing the literary use of the English vernacular.

Childhood Memory

 

An afternoon in winter.

Cold. The students see

beyond the windowpane

the rain’s monotony.

 

We’re in class. A poster

depicts the flight of Cain,

and Abel, his dead brother,

beside a crimson stain.

 

A geriatric teacher,

with voice both loud and bland,

in shabby clothes, addresses us.

A book is in his hand.

 

A chanting junior choir

responds in unison:

“Ten times ten is a hundred.

Nine times nine is eighty-one.”

 

An afternoon in winter.

Cold. The students see

beyond the windowpane

the rain’s monotony.

from Proverbs and Songs

 

Not once did I pursue my fame.

That people might recall my name,

and song, was not my hope;

 

I am in love with subtle worlds,

weightless globes of gentle swirls,

like bubbles made of soap.

 

I like to see their painted art

of sun and scarlet, watch them fly

beneath the blue and trembling sky

before they break apart.

 

First published in Alabama Literary Review.

 

 

Robert Schechter’s poems for children have appeared in Highlights, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, The Caterpillar, and various anthologies. His translations have appeared in The Raintown Review, The Evansville Review, Redactions, and String Poets. His website is http://bobschechter.com.

Recuerdo Infantil

 

Una tarde parda y fría

de invierno. Los colegiales

estudian. Monotonía

de lluvia tras los cristales.

 

Es la clase. En un cartel

se representa a Caín

fugitivo, y muerto Abel,

junto a una mancha carmín.

 

Con timbre sonoro y hueco

truena el maestro, un anciano

mal vestido, enjuto y seco,

que lleva un libro en la mano.

 

Y todo un coro infantil

va cantando la lección:

«mil veces ciento, cien mil;

mil veces mil, un millón».

 

Una tarde parda y fría

de invierno. Los colegiales

estudian. Monotonía

de la lluvia en los cristales.

desde Proverbios y Cantares

 

Nunca perseguí la gloria

ni dejar en la memoria

de los hombres mi canción;

 

yo amo los mundos sutiles,

ingrávidos y gentiles

como pompas de jabón.

 

Me gusta verlos pintarse

de sol y grana, volar

bajo el cielo azul, temblar

súbitamente y quebrarse.

 

 

Antonio Machado (1875-1939) was a leading member of Spain’s Generation of ’98 and is regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest poets. After the collapse of the Republic in 1939, Machado fled into exile and died soon after.

water and tree scape

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