Tournesol

La voyageuse qui traverse les Halles à la tombée de l'été
Marchait sur la pointe des pieds
Le désespoir roulait au ciel ses grands arums si beaux
Et dans le sac à main il y avait mon rêve ce flacon de sels
Que seule a respiré la marraine de Dieu
Les torpeurs se déployaient comme la buée
Au Chien qui fume
Ou venaient d'entrer le pour et le contre
La jeune femme ne pouvait être vue d'eux que mal et de biais
Avais-je affaire à l'ambassadrice du salpêtre
Ou de la courbe blanche sur fond noir que nous appelons pensée

Twelve Years

The line
that remained, that
became true: . . . your
house in Paris -- become
the alterpiece of your hands.

Breathed through thrice,
shone through thrice.
...................

It's turning dumb, turning deaf
behind our eyes.
I see the poison flower
in all manner of words and shapes.

Go. Come.
Love blots out its name: to
you it ascribes itself.

translated by Michael Hamburger

Tour Abroad of Wilfrid the Great

By Jean Baptiste Trudeau.

W'en Queen Victoria calls her peup's
For mak' some Jubilee,
She sen' for men from all de worl' --
And from her colonie.

But mos' of all, she sen' dis word
To dis Canadian shore,
"If Wilfrid Laurier do not come,
I will be glad no more."

Den Wilfrid not hard-hearted, he
Lif' w'at you call de hat,
An' say, "Ma reine, you mus' not fret,
For little t'ing lak' dat.

Verlaine

Why do you dig like long-clawed scavengers
To touch the covered corpse of him that fled
The uplands for the fens, and rioted
Like a sick satyr with doom’s worshippers?
Come! let the grass grow there; and leave his verse
To tell the story of the life he led.
Let the man go: let the dead flesh be dead,
And let the worms be its biographers.

The Wife of Flanders

Low and brown barns, thatched and repatched and tattered,
Where I had seven sons until to-day,
A little hill of hay your spur has scattered. . . .
This is not Paris. You have lost your way.

You, staring at your sword to find it brittle,
Surprised at the surprise that was your plan,
Who, shaking and breaking barriers not a little,
Find never more the death-door of Sedan --

The Spooniad

[The late Mr. Jonathan Swift Somers, laureate of Spoon River, planned The Spooniad as an epic in twenty-four books, but unfortunately did not live to complete even the first book. The fragment was found among his papers by William Marion Reedy and was for the first time published in Reedy's Mirror of December 18th, 1914.]

The Spirit Of The Unborn Babe

The Spirit of the Unborn Babe peered through the window-pane,
Peered through the window-pane that glowed like beacon in the night;
For, oh, the sky was desolate and wild with wind and rain;
And how the little room was crammed with coziness and light!
Except the flirting of the fire there was no sound at all;
The Woman sat beside the hearth, her knitting on her knee;
The shadow of her husband's head was dancing on the wall;
She looked with staring eyes at it, she looked yet did not see.

The Prinkin' Leddie

The Hielan' lassies are a' for spinnin',
The Lowlan' lassies for prinkin' and pinnin';
My daddie w'u'd chide me, an' so w'u'd my minnie
If I s'u'd bring hame sic a prinkin' leddie.

Now haud your tongue, ye haverin' coward,
For whilst I'm young I'll go flounced an' flowered,
In lutestring striped like the strings o' a fiddle,
Wi' gowden girdles aboot my middle.

The Place of the Damned

All folks who pretend to religion and grace,
Allow there's a HELL, but dispute of the place:
But, if HELL may by logical rules be defined
The place of the damned -I'll tell you my mind.
Wherever the damned do chiefly abound,
Most certainly there is HELL to be found:
Damned poets, damned critics, damned blockheads, damned knaves,
Damned senators bribed, damned prostitute slaves;
Damned lawyers and judges, damned lords and damned squires;
Damned spies and informers, damned friends and damned liars;

The Pencil Seller

A pencil, sir; a penny -- won't you buy?
I'm cold and wet and tired, a sorry plight;
Don't turn your back, sir; take one just to try;
I haven't made a single sale to-night.
Oh, thank you, sir; but take the pencil too;
I'm not a beggar, I'm a business man.
Pencils I deal in, red and black and blue;
It's hard, but still I do the best I can.
Most days I make enough to pay for bread,
A cup o' coffee, stretching room at night.
One needs so little -- to be warm and fed,
A hole to kennel in -- oh, one's all right . . .

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