30 March 2010

George Herbert and Easter time

I feel obliged to post a poem related to Easter time. The poet I have chosen today is George Herbert because he has a poem whose form resembles that of a pair of wings and I like it. I hope you like it too.

Easter wings
by George Herbert (1593-1633)

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
   Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:
With thee
Oh let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.
With thee
Let me combine
And feel this day thy victorie:
For, if I imp my wing on thine
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

26 March 2010

Those little things

The sky welcomes spring by turning into blue. The birds welcome spring by singing happily early in the morning from my balcony. Kids also welcome spring by playing outside their houses (something that they had not been able to do for the past six months!). There are many different ways to welcome spring and all of them are positive: we are all happy that snow and cold is over.

Spring is like an invitation to see life from another perspective: birds everywhere, ants in every corner, spiders in the windowsills, or kids playing in the park are different ways to show how happy we are for having left below zero temperatures behind. Little things make more sense in Spring, little elements like that transform reality the way we perceive it, like the little dot on top of the letter "i", like a comma, like the unconventionality of the poet Edward Estlin Cummings, who used to refer to himself as “i” and used to sign his name in lowercase letters: e.e. cummings. He wrote a poem full of small details that show how powerful God is and to thank him for those little things that make our life worth living.

i thank You God
by e.e.cummings (1894-1962)

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

23 March 2010

Spring is here

Today is a beautiful day. The sun is on the top and I can see it ! I do not remember last time the clouds let me see the colour of the sun. Either I forget very easily or the winter that has just left us has been far too long with us.

I am so happy that the low temperatures are gone that I have just put my winter anorak right at the end of the wardrobe. I do not want to see it until next winter. This winter has been one of the longest and coldest ones I have lived in my life, but today the grey colour of the sky has turned into a beautiful blue sky that reminds me of the sea. I have already seen a couple of small spiders trying to get into my kitchen but I have blocked their way in. I guess they were looking for a warm place where to spend a few days but I have closed the window and let them follow their way outside. I hope they did not take me wrong: I do not have anything against spiders; I am just trying to keep the kitchen clean. Soon there will be birds in the balcony and ants in the garden. Spring is already here and I am happy again !

The Ecchoing Green

by William Blake (1757-1827)

The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring,
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells chearful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Click here to read the entire poem

19 March 2010

What about them ?

Nobody talks anymore about the kids who lost their parents in Haiti and Chile. Newspapers are busy with other news and the tragic effects of those two devastating earthquakes seem to have faded away. However, "no news" does not mean "good news" in this case; rather the opposite. The less we speak about what is going to happen to all those children who lost their families, who sleep in the streets, who do not have any possibility to go to school regularly, the worst for them.

The last thing I heard on TV was that plenty of countries had sent millions of dollars and thousands of tons in food, in water and in medicines to relieve the pain of the people. But I heard about it a month ago. What is going on now?, Who is looking after all those children whose future look really black?

If they do not have a proper childhood, they will not have a proper life. They will carry all their lives the pain, the suffering and the sorrow of a stormy childhood. They will not be "as others were" (2), they will not see "as others saw" (3), they will not know what a "common spring" (4) is. They will not be able to take away their "sorrow" (6) and their life will be like a long and frightening storm that will only bring big and grey clouds with ugly shapes. Whenever they look at the clouds to look for a nice form, they will only see that "the cloud took the form [...] of a demon." (23).

That is too bad.

From childhood´s hour
by Edgard Allan Poe (1809-1849)

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken (5)
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then - in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life - was drawn (10)
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled (15)
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form (20)
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view. (23)

17 March 2010

The power of water

Countries fight for its control. Even though the 70% of the planet's surface is water, there are millions of people who do not have it. There are also millions of people who pay a lot of money to have it on a daily basis. When I was a kid they told me that it has no taste, no colour and no smell but very often it stinks, it is green or yellow and it can be sweet or salty. It can be solid, liquid or it can evaporate. Civilizations have survived or dissappeared because of it. It gives life when it comes at the right time and in the right amount. It brings death very often too.It is water.


by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

The water understands

Civilization well;

It wets my foot, but prettily,

It chills my life, but wittily,

It is not disconcerted,

It is not broken-hearted:

Well used, it decketh joy,

Adorneth, doubleth joy:

Ill used, it will destroy,

In perfect time and measure

With a face of golden pleasure

Elegantly destroy

14 March 2010


When I was a kid I used to look at the clouds to try and discover faces, the shape of animals or numbers. I do not do it anymore because when I look at the sky from where I live, I only see that the sky is grey and I cannot distinguish any cloud.
Clouds are in many ways like human beings: there are some people who are always ready to help you, people who will bring you fresh water to refresh you in hard times. However, there are others who will only bring you grey comments to make you feel bad. Some clouds are far away like those friends who say that they are always ready to help but at the end of the day they are never at hand. Some others are closer like a good friend who you can always trust. Some others change their opinion from time to time and some others do so very often. The poet Percy B. Shelley called it mutability.

I am sure the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley knew very well that clouds are different from each other, just like you and me: there are big clouds and small clouds. There are white clouds and black clouds. There are empty clouds and full clouds. All of them are different but necessary.

The Cloud
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skyey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

Click here to read the entire poem

11 March 2010

Thoreau in Spanish

Since I started this blog, I have published a couple of posts about how difficult is to translate poetry. The first post was in Jan, 30 and I included several translations in English of a Spanish poem written by Quevedo (1580-1645). As the blog reader may have noticed, even though all the English translations are great, there are certain differences in each stanza that can easily confuse any reader interested in Quevedo´s poetry. Those variations certainly show that, when it comes to poetry, there is not one perfect translation.

The second post goes back to Feb, 6 where I included a very popular poem written by Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) along with its translation in English. I am not sure to what an extent the English translation is faithful to the original but it is the one that appeared in Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads, 1928).

Today, I am including a short poem written by the American poet Thoreau. I also include an almost word- by- word translation in Spanish that, in my view, lacks of rhythm. I do not know whether you may agree or disagree with the translation but I would appreciate your comments about it.

by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Among the worst of men that ever lived,
Entre los peores hombres que jamás vivieron,

However we did seriously attend,
Aunque seriamente estuvimos presentes,

A little space we let our thoughts ascend,
Dejamos ascender algo nuestros pensamientos

Experienced our religion and confessed
Experimentamos nuestra religión y nos confesamos

´Twas good for us to be there-be anywhere:
Fue bueno estar allí, estar en cualquier sitio

Then to a heap of apples we addressed
Entonces nos dirigimos a un montón de manzanas

And cleared the topmost rider sine care,
y nos deshicimos sin contemplaciones de la más alta

But our Icarian thoughts returned to ground
Nuestros pensamientos icáricos regresaron al suelo

And we went on to to heaven the long way round
y fuimos hacia el cielo por el camino más largo.

9 March 2010

Dreams to buy

For some people, buying things is nothing to do with money: they simply buy what they want to. If they see a car whose colour matches with their favourite suit, they buy the car. If their stressful lives in the city do not let them enjoy life to the full, they book a couple of weeks in a five-star hotel somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Money does not matter because they have all they need and much more.

However, imagine there was a shop that sold people’s dreams. Imagine you could buy somebody’s dream and make it come true, which one would you buy? Would you buy a romantic dream or a gory dream? Would you buy a happy dream or a sad one? Would you buy a dream that made you laugh or one that made you cry?

If you could buy a dream that could change the world, would you buy it? What about if you had to pay with your own life?

by Thomas Lowell Beddoes (1803-1849)

IF there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown 5
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,
What would you buy?

8 March 2010

Looking forward to Spring

The weather man says that Spring is round the corner but it is so cold here that it is difficult to believe him. Although most snow has already melted down, there is still plenty of snow on the pavements, the clouds are grey and they look as if they were about to empty their content anytime. This is one of the worst and longest winters since I moved to Warsaw. The romantic connotations of snow and winter were gone long time ago.

Sometimes I think my body needs sunlight. I do not know if this need for sun is written in my genes, but after several weeks without seeing the sun, without feeling the sun in my skin, I feel blue.

I am looking forward to Spring.

To Spring

by William Blake (1757-1827)

O Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro' the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring! (4)

The hills tell each other, and the list'ning
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turned
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime. (8)

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee. (12)

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee. (16)

5 March 2010

Daily Stress

Stress is omnipresent in my life. It is not that my life is a real tragedy; it is not that I have huge problems I cannot solve. I guess what stresses me in my daily life are small problems, small nuisances, small annoyances that do not let me live my life the way I would like to.

Constant insecurity at work, problems at home, bills to pay, getting late because the bus was late, getting late because I got stuck in a traffic jam, queuing everywhere, the permanent noise of the little girl who lives upstairs and who spends a few hours everyday jumping on the floor or riding her bike. Those are the things that stress me. I guess I should be lucky for suffering this sort of stress but sometimes I have the feeling that so much stress will get me crazy one day. Do you know what I mean?

(Illustration by Henry Holiday in
Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark" )(Photograph taken from Wikipedia)

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

…It’s not the large things that
send a man to the
madhouse…no, it’s the
continuing series of small tragedies
that sends a man to the madhouse…
not the death of his love
but a shoelace that snaps
with no time left…

3 March 2010

February 2010 entry list

Here comes the February 2010 entry list. The following posts will contain a poem and a short comment, as usual. At the end of each month, there will be an entry list with all the entries published during the month.

February 2010 list

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