Sunday, June 29, 2014


Summer grasses going to seed along The Little Union Canal.

I spent the afternoon and most of the evening outside in the shade from the great cottonwoods. Bird-sounds were all around: quail-cry, coo of the Eurasian Collared-Dove, harsh cry of the redwing blackbird and much chitter and chatter from all. Mallards were quiet, though when they fly, the slapping sound of their wings makes one lift one's eyes from the page and watch them as they go.


In our idleness, cinnamon
blossoms fall.
In night quiet, spring
mountains stand

empty. Moonrise startles
mountain birds:
here and there, cries in a
spring gorge.

This is David Hinton's translation of  Wang Wei (701-761) in his book, Classical Chinese Poetry: an introduction, Kindle location 2771. I love the poetic quality of Hinton's translations.

Birdsong Brook

 Mind at peace, cassia flowers fall,
Night still, spring mountain empty
Moon rising startles mountain birds
Now and again sing from spring brook.

Wang Wei; translated by Irving J. Lo 
in Sunflower Splendor; three thousand years of Chinese Poetry, Doubleday Anchor, 1975, p. 96.

The disparity of these translated poems is slightly distressing. 
Maybe I should read some English poems now; 
I went looking for Mary Oliver, It didn't take me long to find this poem.


No sky could hold
so much light ---
and here comes the brimming
the flooding and streaming
out of the clouds
and into the leaves,
glazing the creeks,
the smallest ditches!
And so many stars!
The sky seems stretched
like an old black cloth;
behind it all
the celestial fire
we ever dreamed of!
And the moon steps lower, 
quietly changing
her luminous masks, brushing
everything as she passes
with her slow hands
and soft lips ---
clusters of dark grapes, 
apples swinging like lost planets,
melons cool and heavy as bodies ---
and the mockingbird wakes
in his hidden castle;
out of the silver tangle
of thorns and leaves
he flutters and tumbles
spilling long
ribbons of music
over forest and river,
copse and cloud ---
all heaven and all earth ---
wherever the white moon
fancies her small white prince ---
field after field after field.

Mary Oliver 
in Twelve Moons, Little, Brown, 1979, pp. 38-39.

I started this post with the poems centered because the first one was printed that way. The other two are printed right-justified in the sources. But, liking the look of them this way, I present all three centered. Do all your poems hang onto the right margin? Do you sometimes center your poems or drape them all across the page? Here is a link to an example. Think about it. 

Michigamme Moon
All blog photos are my own.

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