Thursday, 28 April 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Finnish Girls (an Excerpt)" by Kira Wuck

Finnish girls seldom say hello
They are not shy nor arrogant

One only needs a chisel to come closer

They order their own beer

Travel all over the world

While their men are waiting at home

When angry they send you a rotten salmon.

by Kira Wuck
 (translated from the Dutch by Tilleke Schwarz)

For more information about the poet, Kira Wuck, see:

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Christmas Trees" by Robert Frost

A Christmas circular letter

The city had withdrawn into itself  

And left at last the country to the country;  

When between whirls of snow not come to lie  

And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove  

A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,  

Yet did in country fashion in that there  

He sat and waited till he drew us out,  

A-buttoning coats, to ask him who he was.  

He proved to be the city come again  

To look for something it had left behind  

And could not do without and keep its Christmas.  

He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;  

My woods—the young fir balsams like a place  

Where houses all are churches and have spires.  

I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas trees.    

I doubt if I was tempted for a moment  

To sell them off their feet to go in cars  

And leave the slope behind the house all bare,  

Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.  

I’d hate to have them know it if I was.      

Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees, except  

As others hold theirs or refuse for them,  

Beyond the time of profitable growth—  

The trial by market everything must come to.  

I dallied so much with the thought of selling.      

Then whether from mistaken courtesy  

And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether  

From hope of hearing good of what was mine,  

I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”


“I could soon tell how many they would cut,    

You let me look them over.”  


                                    “You could look.  

But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”  

Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close  

That lop each other of boughs, but not a few    

Quite solitary and having equal boughs  

All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,  

Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,  

With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”  

I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.  

We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,  

And came down on the north.


                                    He said, “A thousand.”  


“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”  


He felt some need of softening that to me:      

“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”  


Then I was certain I had never meant  

To let him have them. Never show surprise!  

But thirty dollars seemed so small beside  

The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents    

(For that was all they figured out apiece)—  

Three cents so small beside the dollar friends  

I should be writing to within the hour  

Would pay in cities for good trees like those,  

Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools    

Could hang enough on to pick off enough.


A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!  

Worth three cents more to give away than sell,  

As may be shown by a simple calculation.  

Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.      

I can’t help wishing I could send you one,  

In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

by Robert Frost

I know we are miles away from Christmas, but what the heck!

For more about the poet, Robert Frost, see:

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Tuesday Poem: "in the Village" by Derek Walcott


I came up out of the subway and there were

people standing on the steps as if they knew

something I didn’t. This was in the Cold War,

and nuclear fallout. I looked and the whole avenue

was empty, I mean utterly, and I thought,

The birds have abandoned our cities and the plague

of silence multiplies through their arteries, they fought

the war and they lost and there’s nothing subtle or vague

in this horrifying vacuum that is New York. I caught

the blare of a loudspeaker repeatedly warning

the last few people, maybe strolling lovers in their walk,

that the world was about to end that morning

on Sixth or Seventh Avenue with no people going to work

in that uncontradicted, horrifying perspective.

It was no way to die, but it’s also no way to live.

Well, if we burnt, it was at least New York.


Everybody in New York is in a sitcom.

I’m in a Latin American novel, one

in which an egret-haired
viejo shakes with some
invisible sorrow, some obscene affliction,

and chronicles it secretly, till it shows in his face,

the parenthetical wrinkles confirming his fiction

to his deep embarrassment. Look, it’s

just the old story of a heart that won’t call it quits

whatever the odds, quixotic. It’s just one that’ll

break nobody’s heart, even if the grizzled colonel

pitches from his steed in a cavalry charge, in a battle

that won’t make him a statue. It is the hell

of ordinary, unrequited love. Watch these egrets

trudging the lawn in a dishevelled troop, white banners

trailing forlornly; they are the bleached regrets

of an old man’s memoirs, printed stanzas.

showing their hinged wings like wide open secrets.


Who has removed the typewriter from my desk,

so that I am a musician without his piano

with emptiness ahead as clear and grotesque

as another spring? My veins bud, and I am so

full of poems, a wastebasket of black wire.

The notes outside are visible; sparrows will

line antennae like staves, the way springs were,

but the roofs are cold and the great grey river

where a liner glides, huge as a winter hill,

moves imperceptibly like the accumulating

years. I have no reason to forgive her

for what I brought on myself. I am past hating,

past the longing for Italy where blowing snow

absolves and whitens a kneeling mountain range

outside Milan. Through glass, I am waiting

for the sound of a bird to unhinge the beginning

of spring, but my hands, my work, feel strange

without the rusty music of my machine. No words

for the Arctic liner moving down the Hudson, for the mange

of old snow moulting from the roofs. No poems. No birds.


The Sweet Life Café

If I fall into a grizzled stillness

sometimes, over the red-chequered tablecloth

outdoors of the Sweet Life Café, when the noise

of Sunday traffic in the Village is soft as a moth

working in storage, it is because of age

which I rarely admit to, or, honestly, even think of.

I have kept the same furies, though my domestic rage

is illogical, diabetic, with no lessening of love

though my hand trembles wildly, but not over this page.

My lust is in great health, but, if it happens

that all my towers shrivel to dribbling sand,

joy will still bend the cane-reeds with my pen’s

elation on the road to Vieuxfort with fever-grass

white in the sun, and, as for the sea breaking

in the gap at Praslin, they add up to the grace

I have known and which death will be taking

from my hand on this chequered tablecloth in this good place.

by Derek Walcott

For more information about the poet, Derek Walcott, see: