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Buoy the population of the soul
Toward their destination before they drown
~ Robert Pinsky
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Fom “Conversation with a Tax Inspector about Poetry” - Vladimir Mayakovsky



Citizen tax collector,
honestly, the poet
spends a fortune on words…
Suppose
only half a dozen
unheard-of rhymes were left,
in, say, Venezuela.
And so
I’m drawn
to North and South.
I rush around
entangled in advances and loans.

Citizen!
Consider my traveling expenses:
Poetry –
all of it –
is a journey to the unknown.

(Trans. from Russian by Max Hayward, George Reavey)




Big Book Of Poetry

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The Wreck - Don Paterson



But what lovers we were, what lover,
Even when it was all over -

the deadweight bull-black wines we swung
towards each other rang and rang

like bells of blood, our own great hearts.
We slung the drunk boat out of port

and watched our unreal sober life
unmoor, a continent of grief;

The candlelight strange on our faces
like the silent tiny blazes

And coruscations of its wars.
We blew them out and took the stairs

Into the night for the night's work,
stripped off in the timbered dark,

Gently hooked each other on
like aqualungs, and thundered down

To mine our lovely secret wreck.
We surfaced later, breathless, back

To back, then made our way alone
up the mined beach of the dawn.




Big Book Of Poetry

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Corona - Paul Celan



Autumn eats its leaf out of my hand: we are friends.
From the nuts we shell time and we teach it to walk:
then time returns to the shell.

In the mirror it’s Sunday,
in dream there is room for sleeping,
our mouths speak the truth.

My eye moves down to the sex of my loved one:
we look at each other,
we exchange dark words,
we love each other like poppy and recollection,
we sleep like wine in the conches,
like the sea in the moon’s blood ray.

We stand by the window embracing, and people
look up from the street:
it is time they knew!
It is time the stone made an effort to flower,
time unrest had a beating heart.
It is time it were time.

It is time.

Translated from German by Michael Hamburger




Big Book Of Poetry

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