Satyr

Were I (who to my cost already am
One of those strange prodigious Creatures Man)
A Spirit free, to choose for my own share,
What Case of Flesh, and Blood, I pleas'd to weare,
I'd be a Dog, a Monkey, or a Bear,
Or any thing but that vain Animal,
Who is so proud of being rational.
The senses are too gross, and he'll contrive
A Sixth, to contradict the other Five;
And before certain instinct, will preferr
Reason, which Fifty times for one does err.
Reason, an Ignis fatuus, in the Mind,


Salvador Dali

The face of the precipice is black with lovers;
The sun above them is a bag of nails; the spring's
First rivers hide among their hair.
Goliath plunges his hand into the poisoned well
And bows his head and feels my feet walk through his brain.
The children chasing butterflies turn round and see him there
With his hand in the well and my body growing from his head,
And are afraid. They drop their nets and walk into the wall like smoke.

The smooth plain with its mirrors listens to the cliff
Like a basilisk eating flowers.


Running Amok

In the slums of Tondo, people dwell
in shacks of cardboard, bits of bamboo,
corrugated metal, and a few cement blocks.

They come from all the provinces--
a farmer’s son from Cagayan,
a coal miner from Bulacan,

a field hand from the banana plantations
of Davao. They come to Manila
for work, for better pay.

The highest incidence of men
running amok is in Tondo,
or at least, that’s what the local tabloids

have for headlines every week. Amok in Tondo


Rough Beast

Don't tell a camel about need and want.

Look at the big lips
pursed
in perpetual kiss,
the dangerous lashes
of a born coquette.

The camel is an animal
grateful for less.

It keeps to itself
the hidden spring choked with grass,
the sharpest thorn
on the sweetest stalk.

When a voice was heard crying in the wilderness,

when God spoke
from the burning bush,

the camel was the only animal
to answer back.

Dune on stilts,


Robinson Crusoe's Story

THE night was thick and hazy
When the 'Piccadilly Daisy'
Carried down the crew and captain in the sea;
And I think the water drowned 'em;
For they never, never found 'em,
And I know they didn't come ashore with me.



Oh! 'twas very sad and lonely
When I found myself the only
Population on this cultivated shore;
But I've made a little tavern
In a rocky little cavern,
And I sit and watch for people at the door.




Rice Pudding

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's crying with all her might and main,
And she won't eat her dinner - rice pudding again -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I've promised her dolls and a daisy-chain,
And a book about animals - all in vain -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's perfectly well, and she hasn't a pain;
But, look at her, now she's beginning again! -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?


Rhode Island

Here at the seashore they use the clouds over & over
again, like the rented animals in Aïda.
In the late morning the land breeze
turns and now the extras are driving
all the white elephants the other way.
What language are the children shouting in?
He is lying on the beach listening.

The sand knocks like glass, struck by bare heels.
He tries to remember snow noise.
Would powder snow ping like that?
But you don't lie with your ear to powder snow.
Why doesn't the girl who takes care


Resignation

I'd hate to be centipede (of legs I've only two),
For if new trousers I should need (as oftentimes I do),
The bill would come to such a lot 'twould tax an Astorbilt,
Or else I'd have to turn a Scot and caper in a kilt.

I'm jolly glad I haven't got a neck like a giraffe.
I'd want to tie it in a knot and shorten it by half.
or, as I wear my collars high, how laundry men would gloat!
And what a lot of beer I'd buy to lubricate my throat!

I'd hate to be a goldfish, snooping round a crystal globe,


Requiem

Not under foreign skies
Nor under foreign wings protected -
I shared all this with my own people
There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961]

INSTEAD OF A PREFACE

During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I
spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in
Leningrad. One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me,
her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in
her life heard my name. Jolted out of the torpor


Purgatorio Italian

LA DIVINA COMMEDIA
di Dante Alighieri
PURGATORIO



Purgatorio: Canto I

  Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
che lascia dietro a sé mar sì crudele;
  e canterò di quel secondo regno
dove l'umano spirito si purga
e di salire al ciel diventa degno.
  Ma qui la morta poesì resurga,
o sante Muse, poi che vostro sono;
e qui Caliopè alquanto surga,
  seguitando il mio canto con quel suono
di cui le Piche misere sentiro


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