These are my modern English translations of poems by Ono no Komachi.
Watching wan moonlight flooding tree limbs,
my heart also brims,
overflowing with autumn.
—Ono no Komachi (circa 825-900), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
These are my modern English translations of poems by Hafez aka Hafiz.
The heart is the thousand-stringed lyre
Tuned to the chords of Love.
—Hafez, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
These are Romantic poems (with a capital R) that I have written under the influence of feminine beauty and poets like Sappho, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, John Keats, Kevin N. Roberts, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Dylan Thomas.
She Gathered Lilacs
by Michael R. Burch
She gathered lilacs
and arrayed them in her hair;
tonight, she taught the wind to be free.
We fall for pretty faces,
looking for that perfect match,
We flirt, text back and forth
thinking we have a little chance,
We have days full of sunshine,
relationships burning in fire and flames,
We take too much risks
wearing our heart to the collarbone,
We choose dates, dates turned moments,
We became insecure and less confident
hugging our deepest fears,
We accept someone new, embrace them
forgetting our last relationship was beyond repairs,
We remember the old flames
Two Songs From a Play
I saw a staring virgin stand
Where holy Dionysus died,
And tear the heart out of his side.
And lay the heart upon her hand
And bear that beating heart away;
Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
As though God's death were but a play.
Another Troy must rise and set,
Another lineage feed the crow,
Another Argo's painted prow
Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
The Roman Empire stood appalled:
It dropped the reins of peace and war
When that fierce virgin and her Star
In a strange town in a far land
They met amid a throng;
They stared, they could not understand
How life was sudden song.
As brown eyes looked in eyes of grey
Just for a moment's space,
Twin spirits met with sweet dismay
In that strange place.
And then the mob that swept them near
Reft them away again;
Two hearts in all the world most dear
Knew puzzlement and pain.
They barely brushed in passing by,
A wildered girl and boy,
'God' is composed of letters three,
But if you put an 'l'
Before the last it seems to me
A synonym for Hell.
For all of envy, greed and hate
The human heart can hold
Respond unto the devil's bait
When God created Gold to be
For our adorning fit,
I little think he dreamed that we
Would come to worship it.
But when you ruefully have scanned
The chronicles of Time,
You'll find that lucre lends a hand
I know two women, and one is chaste
And cold as the snows on a winters waste,
Stainless ever I act and thought
(As a man, born dumb, in speech errs not) .
But she has malice toward her kind,
A cruel tongue and a jealous mind.
Void of pity and full of greed,
She judges the world by her narrow creed;
A brewer of quarrels, a breeder of hate,
Yet she holds the key to ‘Society’s’ Gate.
The other woman, with heart of flame,
Went mad for a love that marred her name:
And out of the grave of her murdered faith
In the fair morning of his life,
When his pure heart lay in his breast,
Panting, with all that wild unrest
To plunge into the great world's strife
That fills young hearts with mad desire,
He saw a sunset. Red and gold
The burning billows surged and rolled,
And upward tossed their caps of fire.
He looked. And as he looked the sight
Sent from his soul through breast and brain
Such intense joy, it hurt like pain.
His heart seemed bursting with delight.
So near the Unknown seemed, so close
There was a man, it was said one time,
Who went astray in his youthful prime.
Can the brain keep cool and the heart keep quiet
When the blood is a river that’s running riot?
And boys will be boys the old folks say,
And the man is better who’s had his day.
The sinner reformed; and the preacher told
Of the prodigal son who came back to the fold.
And Christian people threw open the door,
With a warmer welcome than ever before.
Wealth and honour were his to command,
And a spotless woman gave him her hand.