Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two poems I'm thinking of today, rattling around with a wild fever

Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Archaic Torso of Apollo

by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.


aL min said...

Funny, I was just the other day explaining to my gf "love's austere and lonely offices", which had been running through my head all that day. And this past weekend I picked up a dual language edition of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus at the Strand. "You must change your life" is making me just now think of Wright's "Lying in a Hammock..." and its "I have wasted my life." Lot of confluence happening here.

Oh, it's me Lithen from LJ, by the bye.

sophie said...

Hey there- long time, no.. read. Good to hear from you.

I remember talking about the Wright poem in connection to the Rilke, in a workshop with M.Doty a few summers ago. Worth ruminating on.