Two New Poems

In the beautiful New American Writing:

Federico García Lorca: Ghazal for a Dead Child

Ghazal for a Dead Child
     by Federico García Lorca

Every afternon in Granada,
every afternoon, a child lies dead.
Every afternoon, water
takes a table to gossip.

The dead have moss for wings.
The cloudy breeze, the clean,
are pheasants clear of towers.
The day is a wounded child.

No trace of larks remained aloft
when I found you in wine’s grottoes.
No cloud crumbs remained aground
when you drowned by the river.

A giant fleshed in water fell on the hills.
The valleys tumbled with irises and dogs.
Your body in my hands’ violet shadow:
dead by the river, an archangel, cold.

                         Granada, Spain


Gacela del Niño Muerto

Todas las tardes en Granada,
todas las tardes se muere un niño.
Todas las tardes el agua se sienta
a conversar con sus amigos.

Los muertos llevan alas de musgo.
El viento nublado y el viento limpio
son dos faisanes que vuelan por las torres
y el día es un muchacho herido.

No quedaba en el aire ni una brizna de alondra
cuando yo te encontré por las grutas del vino.
No quedaba en la tierra ni una miga de nube
cuando te ahogabas por el río.

Un gigante de agua cayó sobre los montes
y el valle fue rodando con perros y con lirios.
Tu cuerpo, con la sombra violeta de mis manos,
era, muerto en la orilla, un arcángel de frío.

And here’s Ian Duhig’s take on this poem, and then his translation translated back into Spanish:

Federico García Lorca – Ian Duhig – Carlos López Beltrán & Pedro Serrano.

Poetry Is A Crime Scene

Someone said fiction is a house and poetry is a person on fire running through a house.

I say poetry is the traces of a crime scene. You come upon it, and you wonder, “What happened here?”

You study the signs, and then, epiphany: Holy Christ, someone ran through here on fire.

It doesn’t matter whom. It doesn’t matter where: it matters that you put it together and it hit you like a gut-punch — somebody (maybe me) ran through this house on fire.

Anglo-Saxon Cryptography: Secret Writing in Early Medieval England

At the very end of an eleventh-century manuscript copy of St Augustine’s Confessions, an Anglo-Saxon scribe wrote “Fknktp Lkbrp χρp prfcpnkB rfddp”. Rather than garbled gobbledegook, these words were written in a simple but popular code: the vowels have been replaced by their neighbouring consonants in the alphabet: a=b; e=f; i=k; o=p; x=u. 

The scribe’s words actually read: “Finito libero Christo [the Greek letters χρ is a well-known abbreviation for Christ] preconio reddo”, which is Latin for something along the lines of: “The book is finished, I give a laudation to Christ in return”. Apparently, this scribe was happy that his job was done and rendered thanks to Christ in an encoded message.

The same motivation seems to underlie another encrypted colophon at the end of an eleventh-century Gospel-book made in England: “DFPGRBTKBS AMΗN”:

The first two words of this colophon read “DEO GRATIAS” [thanks be to God]; the last word is “AMEN”, with a Greek capital Eta instead of the E (and a weird M and N, which I haven’t been able to identify).

Thijs Porck, Anglo-Saxon Cryptography: Secret Writing in Early Medieval England

(colophon — 1: an inscription at the end of a book or manuscript usually with facts about its production; 2: an identifying mark used by a printer or a publisher.)

T. S. Eliot in New York, 1958

In the spring of 1958 the (relatively) new Mr and Mrs Eliot travelled to America for a month so that T. S. Eliot could introduce his new wife, Valerie to his family. They sailed from Southampton to New York aboard the Media before flying to Texas for lecture engagements and then on to Cambridge, via New York, to spend time with various members of the Eliot family. 

Introducing Mrs. Eliot
Photo taken 4/19/58, waiting to enter New York sound.

Eliot’s note on the reverse.

World War I Poetry by Women: Mary Gilmore

     by Mary Gilmore

Out in the dust he lies;
Flies in his mouth,
Ants in his eyes …
I stood at the door

Where he went out;
Full-grown man,
Ruddy and stout;
I heard the march

Of the trampling feet,
Slow and steady
Come down the street;
The beat of the drum

Was clods on the heart,
For all that the regiment
Looked so smart!
I heard the crackle

Of hasty cheers
Run like the breaking
Of unshed tears,
And just for a moment,

As he went by,
I had sight of his face,
And the flash of his eye.
He died a hero’s death,

They said,
When they came to tell me
My boy was dead;
But out in the street

A dead dog lies;
Flies in his mouth,
Ants in his eyes.

More on this poet in Behind Their Lines.

Mary Gilmore

Edward Thomas’s Watch

Stopped at 7.36 a.m., Easter Monday 9th April 1917, by the blast that killed him.

Also, you can see the ripples from the force of the shell on his notebook’s pages:

The complete notebook has been digitized by the University of Oxford:

Edward Thomas’s War Diary.