Chixiao (“The Owl”) translation from the ancient Chinese by Duke Zhou

Chixiao (“The Owl”)
by Duke Zhou (c. 1100-1000 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Owl!
You've stolen my offspring,
Don't shatter my nest!
When with labors of love
I nurtured my fledglings.

Before the skies darkened
And the dark rains fell,
I gathered mulberry twigs
To thatch my nest,
Yet scoundrels now dare
Impugn my enterprise.

With fingers chafed rough
By the reeds I plucked
And the straw I threshed,
I now write these words,
Too hoarse to speak:
I am homeless!

Shijing or Shi-Jing translations from the Chinese

The Shijing or Shi-Jing or Shih-Ching (“Book of Songs” or “Book of Odes”) is the oldest Chinese poetry collection, with the poems included believed to date from around 1200 BC to 600 BC. According to tradition the poems were selected and edited by Confucius himself. Since most ancient poetry did not rhyme, these may be the world’s oldest extant rhyming poems.

Shijing Ode #4: “JIU MU”
ancient Chinese rhyming poem circa (1200 BC - 600 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thomas Wyatt translation/modernization of "Whoso List to Hunt"

Whoso List to Hunt, or, Whoever Longs to Hunt
original poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder
loose translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Whoever longs to hunt, I know the deer;
but as for me, alas!, I may no more.
This vain pursuit has left me so bone-sore
I'm one of those who falters, at the rear.
Yet friend, how can I draw my anguished mind
away from the doe? Thus, as she flees before
me, fainting I follow. I must leave off, therefore,
since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

English Translations by Michael R. Burch

These are my English translations of poems by the Jewish Holocaust poet Miklos Radnoti, the Scottish poet William Dunbar, the German poet Georg Trakl, the English poet Pauline Mary Tarn who wrote poems in French as Renee Vivien, and other poets. 

Postcard 1
by Miklós Radnóti, written August 30, 1944
translation by Michael R. Burch

English translation of "To the boy Elis" by Georg Trakl

This is my modern English translation of the poem "To the boy Elis" by Georg Trakl.

To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

Translation of 'This Distant Light' by the Palestinian poet Walid Khazindar

This is my modern English translation of a poem by the Palestinian poet Walid Khazindar. 

This Distant Light
by Walid Khazindar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Bitterly cold,
winter clings to the naked trees.
If only you would free
the bright sparrows
from your fingertips
and unleash a smile— that shy, tentative smile—
from the imprisoned anguish I see.

Sing! Can we not sing
as if we were warm, hand-in-hand,
sheltered by shade from a sweltering sun?

Mirza Ghalib translations

These are modern English translations of Urdu poems by Mirza Ghalib. 

Near Sainthood
by Mirza Ghalib
translation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

On the subject of mystic philosophy, Ghalib,
your words might have struck us as deeply profound ...
Hell, we might have pronounced you a saint,
if only we hadn't found
you drunk
as a skunk!

***

Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Euripides Translations

These are my modern English translations of epigrams by Euripides. 

Love distills the eyes’ desires, love bewitches the heart with its grace.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fools call wisdom foolishness.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

One true friend is worth ten thousand kin.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Not to speak one’s mind is slavery.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

I would rather die standing than kneel, a slave.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Leonardo da Vinci “Paragone of Poetry and Painting” Translation

These are my modern English translations of epigrams and poems by Leonardo da Vinci. I suspect da Vinci's “Paragone of Poetry and Painting” may have been aimed like a dart at his greatest rival, Michelangelo!

Excerpts from “Paragone of Poetry and Painting” and Other Writings
by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1500
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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