Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Clattery MacHinery on Poetry


Check out the new poetry blog:

Clattery MacHinery on Poetry


Posts Readied
for Read, Review, & Comment

V. Sundaram's A Great Sant from Gujarat and Rajasthan (with rare translations of Dadu bhajans)

Luisetta Mudie's Climate Change and the Poetic Imagination

All-World Wrestling Poetry—a collection of 52 wrestling poems

Wrestling Poetry Project

. . . and don’t forget these Christmas poems

A Sunday Holiday of Fifty Negro Boys

Ten Thousand Thanks

Posing Aemilia Lanyer (as Shakespeare; as his Dark Lady; and as she posed)

The Pee in the Pool of On Line Poetry, by Terreson

Life and Death from Beijing: a Poetry Sequence by Luisetta Mudie and Dreamer Fei

Elliot’s Car & Sully’s Truck

The Long Abandon’d Hill, for Frank Wilson as he retires

Lite Verse with No Cholesterol or Trans Fat, by 33 Already Dead Poets, 6 Unknown Anyway

A Gaping-Wide-Mouth Waddling Frog, illustrated by Walter Crane

Today is World Samina Malik Day: Terrorize your lyrics

Whatever is

World Samina Malik Day December 6th

A Selection of Kitten Verse by Oliver Herford

The Ghost of the Susquehanna vs. the Curse of the Bambino

Free Burma!

Alley War Poetry

Taslima Nasreen: Women’s Rights vs the Holy Hell

The Long-Awaited, Unabating, Top 30 All-Time Greatest Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Official Top 20 Countdown of the All Time Greatest Love Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Nikki Giovanni's "We Are Virginia Tech"

Gill Dennis on Johnny Cash & voice in poetry

The Ella Wheeler Wilcox Top 30 Countdown

"The Scent of Ensure" by J. Shawcross

Blue Kookaburra

The Lyric Minutiae (or the ee(cummings) in (katharine mcph)ee)

Sources say writer and journalist Fessehaye “Joshua” Yohannes has died in detention

By Myself Pouring Wine as the Moon Shines

Warning to Other Writers About Using Blogger

Li Bai drinking alone (with the moon, his shadow, & 32 translators)

Turning the pages of William Blake's notebook online

Amnesty International: Well-known satirist Sakit Zahidov imprisoned following an unfair trial with questionable evidence

Sir Francis Bacon on Poetry

Misplaced Leisure Water: The Displaced Function of Poetry

from Poem a Day: "New Year Snow" by Frances Horovitz

Sonny's Lettah by Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ)

J. Geils Band's 'Floyd's Hotel': A place to get our poetic souls back

"’Twas the Night Before Christmas," illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith

Christmastime at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s

Adonis: 'We, in Arab society, do not understand the meaning of freedom'

Blue Luge

Mary and The Maid, cleaning up the place

Some Embers & Sonnets of Gilbert Parker

Butterfly Wisdom, poet unknown

Warning: A stark poem on the gruesome murder of Addie Hall

Faith's Review and Expectation by John Newton (Amazing Grace, that is)

Over Emily Dickinson’s for Thanksgiving: 16 Poems

From Pining Poem to Haunting Anthem: "Dark Eyes" by Yevhen Hrebinka

Verse for Veterans: First Foe to Flanders Fields

September 30, 2006: Massacre. September 29, 1960: Tenzin Gyatsu’s prayer.

I am sorry you had to leave Reine

Wrestling With Poetry in November

The All Time Top Ten Greatest Poems of Scotland

Daniel Webster: Great American Orator on Poetry

David Kirby: his poetry, Kirbyisms, & video

Ko Un

A Conversation on Experimental Fiction and Now Poetry

Mark Doty Physically: "Heaven for Paul"

Poetry Festivals Worldwide: This weekend, the Dodge

Punky Dunk and the Spotted Pup

The Babes in the Wood: a Randolph Caldecott Picture Book

Green Grape Cakes

By what act or department of Congress?

Billy Collins: An Evening with the former U.S. Poet Laureate

Jack Kerouac, the 20th Century's Greatest Poet: One Hour of Video


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Warning to Other Writers About Using Blogger

Some of you may know that I have another poetry blog that is not kept under a pseudonym.

There are several reasons I use Bud Bloom. Here are four.

1. A pseudonym is psychologically liberating. Each time I write as Bud Bloom, I re-enter the world with no other role other than to tackle the subject matter at hand.

2. If you know who I am, you are probably a "friend", someone I have chosen to share my identity with. In this way, Bud Bloom is like a secret hand shake. I get to share thoughts that come from the real me with those of my choosing, those I trust.

3. Alternatively, I may choose that certain people have no clue that I participate in this activity. It's not something that happens often, but every once in a while, I meet someone I would not like to share that I have this blog as a reflective aspect of my personality. This has nothing to do with shame, by the way, although for other writers, I could see that it could.

4. With a pseudonym, I may be bold and say things, take political or religious positions that others may hate. If they hate these ideas, they may want to look me up and bring me harm. When I am not Bud Bloom, I am the easiest person to find, a sitting duck.

A serious fault in the Blogger conversion program, has merged my two identities. When I am not blogging as Bud Bloom, it is important that people know who I am. This is different from my day job that makes me the easy mark. It has to do with poetry, and goals. Therefore, I would like to be able to be "looked up" and easily identified. As relatively popular as this blog has become, the other is both more popular and more relied upon by others. I must be able to have my real name when I choose to blog with it.

By merging the two identities, it is as if Blogger is forcing me and other writers to make a choice. The problem is that I had already made my choice to have both.

If all my posts at my other blog and around the Blogger world were by "Bud Bloom," it would be very clear who Bud Bloom really is. My pseudonym, which I have had for years before blogging ever existed, would be revealed in the blogosphere. It would then be obvious who Bud Bloom was in other realms as well. In fact, last month, Blogger was responsible for revealing this to the entire blogging world through their Blogger conversion program.

I may have to delete this blog. I imagine that writers around the world have not complained, but simply felt the heat and deleted the blogs that put them at risk, hopefully before their identities were revealed to the wrong people, hopefully before they were marked for death or an investigation was opened that would imprison them for ideas they expressed.

Why not convert to WordPress or something? Because the new blog precludes this conversion to other software. I imagine the reason is that Blogger will be charging for these services soon, and does not want anyone "escaping". I may have folded if it had to do with such economic hijinks. But, when it has to do with my freedom of expression. I cannot. I write.

I have been e-mailing Blogger "support" for weeks now. They took weeks to respond, and once Karl started in, he failed to read what the issue was, and converted all my posts everywhere to Bud Bloom again. He e-mailed me, telling me he fixed the problem. I immediately e-mailed him back, and he changed things such that I could only post elsewhere as "Bud Bloom"--another shallow reading of the problem, and another quick "fix".

I have e-mailed him every other day since for over a week, and he does not respond. It is as if he has written on a docket "problem fixed by yours truly, Karl superstar, once again" or this issue has been placed into another queue as I await another member of the Blogger Team to take over. I should not think through this situation so much. Maybe Karl is just on an employee-of-the-month vacation or something.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Li Bai drinking alone (with the moon, his shadow, & 32 translators)

The Tang poet Li Bai--a.k.a. Li Po, Li Bo and the Poet Immortal--left us over 1,000 poems. Besides these, he is also known by the way it is said he died. He supposedly drowned drunk, trying to embrace the moon's reflection in the Yangtze River.

Below are 30 English translations (from 32 translators (and counting)) to one of his three poems most commonly titled with some variation of "Drinking Alone in the Moonlight" or "Drinking Alone with the Moon." I have ordered them in rough chronological order, and put the date of each translation, or my best approximation, before it. If you know I am wrong about a date (or anything else, for that matter), please let me know and I will make the correction.


by 李 白 (Li Bai) (701-762)



tr Herbert A. Giles ~1900?

Last Words

An arbor of flowers and a kettle of wine:
Alas! In the bowers no companion is mine.
Then the moon sheds her rays on my goblet and me,
And my shadow betrays we're a party of three!
Thou' the moon cannot swallow her share of the grog,
And my shadow must follow wherever I jog,
Yet their friendship I'll borrow and gaily carouse,
And laugh away sorrow while spring-time allows.
See the moon--how she dances response to my song;
See my shadow--it dances so lightly along!
While sober I feel, you are both my good friends;
While drunken I reel, our companionship ends,
But we'll soon have a greeting without a goodbye,
At our next merry meeting away in the sky.


tr W.A.P.Martin ~1900?

On Drinking Alone by Moonlight

Here are flowers and here is wine,
But where's a friend with me to join
Hand in hand and heart to heart
In one full cup before we part?

Rather than to drink alone,
I'll make bold to ask the moon
To condescend to lend her face
The hour and the scene to grace.

Lo, she answers, and she brings
My shadow on her silver wings;
That makes three, and we shall be.
I ween, a merry company

The modest moon declines the cup,
But shadow promptly takes it up,
And when I dance my shadow fleet
Keeps measure with my flying feet.

But though the moon declines to tipple
She dances in yon shining ripple,
And when I sing, my festive song,
The echoes of the moon prolong.

Say, when shall we next meet together?
Surely not in cloudy weather,
For you my boon companions dear
Come only when the sky is clear.


tr Ezra Pound, 1915

Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine

Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine
I pour alone but with no friend at hand
So I lift the cup to invite the shining moon,
Along with my shadow we become party of three

The moon although understands none of drinking, and
The shadow just follows my body vainly
Still I make the moon and the shadow my company
To enjoy the springtime before too late

The moon lingers while I am singing
The shadow scatters while I am dancing
We cheer in delight when being awake
We separate apart after getting drunk

Forever will we keep this unfettered friendship
Till we meet again far in the Milky Way


tr W.J.B.Fletcher, 1919(?)

We Three

One pot of wine amid the Flowers
Alone I pour, and none with me.
The cup I lift; the Moon invite;
Who with my shadow makes us three.
The moon then drinks without a pause.
The shadow does what I begin.
The shadow, Moon and I in fere
Rejoice until the spring come in.
I sing: and wavers time the moon.
I dance: the shadow antics too.
Our joys we share while sober still.
When drunk, we part and bid adieu.
Of loveless outing this the pact,
Which we all swear to keep for aye.
The next time that we meet shall be
Beside you distant milky way.


tr Arthur Waley, 1919

Drinking Alone by Moonlight

A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.


tr Florence Ayscough & Amy Lowell, 1921

Drinking Alone in the Moonlight

A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing--the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obligated to wander without intention.
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.


tr Amy Lowell &/or Florence Ayscough

Drinking Alone in the Moonlight

A pot of wine among flowers.
I alone, drinking, without a companion.
I lift the cup and invite the bright moon.
My shadow opposite certainly makes us three.
But the moon cannot drink,
And my shadow follows the motions of my body in vain.
For the briefest time are the moon and my shadow my companions.
Oh, be joyful! One must make the most of Spring.
I sing--the moon walks forward rhythmically;
I dance, and my shadow shatters and becomes confused.
In my waking moments, we are happily blended.
When I am drunk, we are divided from one another and scattered.
For a long time I shall be obliged to wander without intention;
But we will keep our appointment by the far-off Cloudy River.


tr Shigeyoshi Obata, 1922

Three with the Moon and his Shadow

With a jar of wine I sit by the flowering trees.
I drink alone, and where are my friends?
Ah, the moon above looks down on me;
I call and lift my cup to his brightness.
And see, there goes my shadow before me.
Ho! We're a party of three, I say,--
Though the poor moon can't drink,
And my shadow but dances around me,
We're all friends to-night,
The drinker, the moon and the shadow.
Let our revelry be suited to the spring!

I sing, the wild moon wanders the sky.
I dance, my shadow goes tumbling about.
While we're awake, let us join in carousal;
Only sweet drunkenness shall ever part us.
Let us pledge a friendship no mortals know,
And often hail each other at evening
Far across the vast and vaporous space!


tr Witter Bynner, 1929(?)

Drinking Alone with the Moon

From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me--
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends.
To cheer me through the end of spring . . .
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
. . . Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.


tr Robert Payne, 1958

Drinking Alone under Moonlight

Holding a jug of wine among the flowers,
And drinking alone, not a soul keeping me company,
I raise my cup and invite the moon to drink with me,
And together with my shadow we are three.
But the moon does not know the joy of drinking,
And my shadow only follows me about.
Nevertheless I shall have them as my companions,
For one should enjoy life at such a time.
The moon loiters as I sing my songs,
My shadow looks confused as I dance.
I drink with them when I am awake
And part with them when I am drunk.
Henceforward may we always be feasting,
And may we meet in the Cloudy River of Heaven.


tr William Acker, 1967

Amidst the Flowers a Jug of Wine

Amidst the flowers a jug of wine--
I pour alone lacking companionship,
So raising the cup I invite the moon,
Then turn to my shadow which makes three of us.
Because the moon does not know how to drink
My shadow merely follows my body.
The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while,
The practice of mirth should keep pace with spring.
I start a song and the moon begins to reel,
I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely.
While I'm still conscious let's rejoice with one another,
After I'm drunk let each one go his way.
Let us bind ourselves for ever for passionless journeyings.
Let us swear to meet again far in the Milky Way.


tr J.C. Cooper, 1972

The Little Fete

I take a bottle of wine and I go to drink it among the flowers.
We are always three--
counting my shadow and my friend the shimmering moon.
Happily the moon knows nothing of drinking,
and my shadow is never thirsty.

When I sing, the moon listens to me in silence.
When I dance, my shadow dances too.
After all festivities the guests must depart;
This sadness I do not know.
When I go home,
the moon goes with me and my shadow follows me.


tr Irving Yucheng Lo, 1975

Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon

A pot of wine among the flowers:
I drink alone, no kith or kin near.
I raise my cup to invite the moon to join me;
It and my shadow make a party of three.
Alas, the moon is unconcerned about drinking,
And my shadow merely follows me around.
Briefly I cavort with the moon and my shadow:
Pleasure must be sought while it is spring.
I sing and the moon goes back and forth,
I dance and my shadow falls at random.
While sober we seek pleasure in fellowship;
When drunk we go each our own way.
Then let us pledge a friendship without human ties
And meet again at the far end of the Milky Way.


tr Rewi Alley, 1980

Alone and Drinking Under the Moon

Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.


tr Burton Watson, 1986

Drinking Alone Under the Moon

A jug of wine among flowers
I drink alone, for there's no companion.
I raise the cup and invite the moon,
With my shadow we become three.
Of course the moon does not understand drinking;
The shadow purposelessly traces my body.
But I accompany the moon and the shadow anyway
The pursuit of pleasures must continue until the spring.
The moon wanders as I sing;
The shadow rattles when I dance.
Still sober, we share our joys;
After drunk, each goes its way.
Permanently joined for feelingless journeys--
Perhaps to the remote Milky Way.


tr Elling O. Eide, 1994

Drinking Alone in the Moonlight

Beneath the blossoms with a pot of wine,
No friends at hand, so I poured alone;
I raised my cup to invite the moon,
Turned to my shadow, and we became three.
Now the moon had never learned about my drinking,
And my shadow had merely followed my form,
But I quickly made friends with the moon and my shadow;
To find pleasure in life, make the most of the spring.

Whenever I sang, the moon swayed with me;
Whenever I danced, my shadow went wild.
Drinking, we shared our enjoyment together;
Drunk, then each went off on his own.
But forever agreed on dispassionate revels,
We promised to meet in the far Milky Way.


tr Stephen Owen, 1996

Drinking Alone by Moonlight

Here among flowers one flask of wine,
with no close friends, I pour it alone.

I lift cup to bright moon, beg its company,
then facing my shadow, we become three.

The moon has never known how to drink;
my shadow does nothing but follow me.

But with moon and shadow as companions a while,
this joy I find must catch spring while it's here.

I sing, and the moon just lingers on;
I dance, and my shadow flails wildly.

When still sober we share friendship and pleasure,
then, utterly drunk, each goes his own way--

Let us join to roam beyond human cares
and plan to meet far in the river of stars.


tr Winifred Galbraith, 1997

Drinking under the Moon

The wine among the flowers,
O lonely me!
Ah moon, aloof and shining,
I drink to thee.

Beside me, see my shadow,
Rejoice we three!
Moon, why remote and distant?
Dance with my shade and me.


This joy shall last for ever,
Moon, hear my lay,
My shade and I can caper
Like clouds away.

And drunk we are united
(But lone by day)
Let's fix eternal trysting
In the Milky Way.


tr Xu Yuanchong, 1997

Drinking Alone under the Moon

Amid the flowers, from a pot of wine
I drink alone beneath the bright moonshine,
I raise my cup to invite the Moon who blends
Her light with my Shadow and we're three friends.
The Moon does not know how to drink her share;
In vain my Shadow follows me here and there.
Together with them for the time I stay
And make merry before spring's spent away.
I sing and the Moon lingers to hear my song;
My Shadow's a mess while I dance along.
Sober, we three remain cheerful and gay;
Drunken, we part and each may go his way.
Our friendship will outshine all earthly love,
Next time we'll meet beyond the stars above.


Drinking Alone by Moonlight

Among the flowers a pot of wine,
I drink alone; no friend is by,
I raise my cup, invite the moon,
And my shadow; now we are three.
But the moon knows nothing of drinking,
And my shadow only apes my doings;
Yet moon and shadow shall be my company.
Spring is the time to have fun.
I sing, the moon lingers,
I dance, my shadow tangles,
While I'm still sober, we are gay together,
When I get drunk, we go our different ways.
We pledge a friendship no mortals know,
And swear to meet on heaven's Silver River.


tr Sun Dayu, 1997

Drinking Alone under the Moon

With a jug of wine among the flowers,
I drink alone sans company.
To the moon aloft I raise my cup,
With my shadow to form a group of three.
As the moon doth not drinking ken,
And shadow mine followeth my body,
I keep company with them twain,
While spring is here to make myself merry.
The moon here lingereth while I sing,
I dance and my shadow spreadeth in rout.
When sober I am, we jolly remain,
When drunk I become, we scatter all about.
Let's knit our carefree tie of the good old day;
We may meet above sometime at the milky way.


tr Sam Hamill, 2000

Drinking Alone

I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.

But the moon doesn't drink,
and my shadow silently follows.

I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

We share life's joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.

Constant friends, although we wander,
we'll meet again in the Milky Way.


tr Vikram Seth, 2001

Drinking Alone with the Moon

A pot of wine among the flowers.
I drink alone, no friend with me.
I raise my cup to invite the moon.
He and my shadow and I make three.

The moon does not know how to drink;
My shadow mimes my capering;
But I’ll make merry with them both--
And soon enough it will be Spring.

I sing--the moon moves to and fro.
I dance--my shadow leaps and sways.
Still sober, we exchange our joys.
Drunk--and we’ll go our separate ways.

Let’s pledge--beyond human ties--to be friends,
And meet where the Silver River ends.


tr Dongbo

Solitary Moonlight Drunk

One jug of wine
        a thicket of flowers,
A solitary drunk
        no friends around.
I raise my cup
        urge Moon to drink,
But Moon has no stomach for wine!
Shadow stalks my tettering form,
Moon and Shadow
        my transient chums,
The three of us
        giddy as springtime,
I sing out!
                Moon stops dead,
I jitterbug!
        Shadow boogies drunkenly.
Sober we're bosom friends,
        Pickled we scatter.
I yearn to trek to the frigid beyond,
And together plunge into Star River.


tr Paul Rouzer

Drinking Alone Under the Moon

Among the flowers, a single jug of wine;
I drink alone. No one close to me.
I raise my cup, invite the bright moon;
facing my shadow, together we make three.
The moon doesn't know how to drink;
and my shadow can only follow my body.
But for a time I make moon and shadow my companions;
taking one's pleasure must last until spring.
I sing--the moon wavers back and forth.
I dance--my shadow flickers and scatters.
When I'm sober we take pleasure together.
When I'm drunk, we each go our own ways.
I make an oath to journey forever free of feelings,
making an appointment with them to meet in the Milky Way afar.


tr Keith Holyoak, 2005

Drinking Alone Under the Moon

Alone among the flowers with a jug of wine,
Without a single friend to drink with me,
I lift my glass and invite the bright moon to come
Join in—now the moon, my shadow and I make three.

I know the moon is not a famous drinker,
My shadow's toast no more than mimicry,
And yet for a little while the three of us
Carouse in springtime camaraderie.

I sing, and the moon sways to and fro in rhythm;
I dance, and my shadow floats in harmony.
Drinking, we share our joys with one another;
After, we'll need to find them separately.

Let's meet again, at the end of the Silver River,
And there, my friends, resume our revelry!


tr Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping, 2005

Drinking Alone by Moonlight

A pot of wine in the flower garden,
but no friends drink with me.
So I raise my cup to the bright moon
and to my shadow, which makes us three,
but the moon won't drink
and my shadow just creeps about my heels.
Yet in your company, moon and shadow,
I have a wild time till spring dies out.
I sing and the moon shudders.
My shadow staggers when I dance.
We have our fun while I can stand
then drift apart when I fall asleep.
Let's share this empty journey often
and meet again in the milky river of stars.


tr Zhang Tingshen & Wei Bosi, 2005

Drinking Alone under the Moon

A jug of wine amidst the flowers:
Drinking alone, with no friend near.
Raising my cup, I beckon the bright moon;
My shadow included, we're a party of three.
Although the moon's unused to drinking
And the shadow only apes my every move
For the moment I'll just take them as they are,
Enjoying spring when spring is here.
Reeling shadow, swaying moon
Attend my dance and song.
Still sober, we rejoice together;
Drunk, each takes his leave.
To seal forever such unfettered friendship
Let's rendezvous beyond the Milky Way.


tr 2007

By Myself Pouring Wine as the Moon Shines

From the filled jug of wine left within the blossoming bed,
I pour with no love nor family by. Loneliness sets in.

Drawn to its beam, I raise a brimming cup and face the moon--
an encounter that spawns a shadow. We've become a trio.

The aloof moon, as of late, has been declining to imbibe
and the faithful shaver, my shadow, follows my every move.

For tonight, anyway, we three will be boon companions.
Turned on, we'll be stepping out. Spring leaves us too soon.

I try to sing, and the moon starts its little swaying move,
which gets me dancing till my poor shadow's all confused.

With so much in common, we rouse to the time of our lives
until, in a drunken fog, we let go, dispensed into a cured world.

Ever cast to find passion in an age of fruitless wandering,
our feelings are mutual. I'll see you in that cosmic cloudy dynasty.


tr Carol Saba, 2007

Li Bai's Solitary Considerations in the Moonlight

A bottle found on the garden path
is invitation enough for friendless me.
I beckon the moon and smile at my shadow
for I'm no longer alone; now we are three.

The moon is not much of a drinking companion,
my shadow can't share an original thought;
yet I will spend time with these as my friends
to relish the waning spring eve as I ought.

I sing to the moon, it sways to my song,
I dance with my shadow, it bounces along;
awake, we three are the same as one
but drunk I fall back to being alone.

Eternally bound to the mythic journey
we each have our place on the way to the stars.


(extra credit)

George Thorogood's I Drink Alone

Duration 4:39


Turning the pages of William Blake's notebook online.

William Blake (1757-1827)


Click on William Blake's notebook to the right, and visit The British Library's Sir John Ritblat Gallery. The site is called Turning the Pages™ and uses the Shockwave plug-in to fabulous effect.

Once there, you will have the experience of turning the pages of Blake's notebook, wherein you will find such things as sketches, and his poem "The Tyger"--in his handwriting, of course. You will be supplied with a magnifying glass, so that you can examine the pages, and the options of listening to and/or reading the British Library's notes on whatever aspect you are perusing at the moment.


The Tyger

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Amnesty International: Well-known satirist Sakit Zahidov imprisoned following an unfair trial with questionable evidence

This is from: Amnesty International USA: Azerbaijan: Appeal Cases

24 January 2007; AI Index: EUR 55/002/2007 (Public)

Well-known satirist Sakit Zahidov imprisoned following an unfair trial with questionable evidence

Sakit Zahidov, a well-known journalist in Azerbaijan, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on questionable charges of possessing illegal drugs. Amnesty International is concerned that the 47-year-old journalist was not given a fair trial and that he may have been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. The organization calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure an immediate retrial in compliance with international fair trial standards.

Sakit Zahidov is a journalist and satirist for the opposition newspaper Azadlıq ('Freedom'), as well as a poet. He is married with five children. He was arrested on 23 June 2006 on a charge of possession of illegal narcotics with intent to distribute by Interior Ministry personnel belonging to its anti-narcotics department. A statement issued by the Ministry alleged that 10 grams of heroin had been found on Sakit Zahidov's person and confiscated following his arrest. Sakit Zahidov's brother and editor-in-chief of the Azadlıq newspaper, Qanimat Zahidov, and other prominent opposition journalists believe that his arrest was politically motivated and that the heroin was planted on Sakit Zahidov in order to incriminate him. Allegedly, a senior officer (his name was provided to Amnesty International) from the Investigation Department for the Fight Against Drug Trafficking planted drugs in Sakit Zahidov's left pocket after the journalist was forced into a car at the time of the arrest. The alleged planting of incriminating evidence on victims targeted because of their political activities was documented by human rights activists in the context of the 2005 parliamentary elections, when a number of opposition party activists were arrested and two imprisoned on narcotics-related charges.

Sakit Zahidov's trial opened on 18 August 2006. A large number of public figures, human rights activists and journalists came to attend the trial, but were unable to gain access as the preliminary hearing reportedly took place in a small room with capacity for only 25 people. No recording of the hearing was permitted, and it is therefore difficult for Amnesty International to ascertain what evidence was presented to prove whether Sakit Zahidov had used illegal substances. Amnesty International is not in a position to be able to verify the apparently contradictory medical evidence presented to the trial; however the organization is concerned by a number of procedural irregularities in Sakit Zahidov’s arrest and trial. A number of important witnesses were not called for questioning at his trial and appeal. Furthermore, allegations that Sakit Zahidov's own testimony was partially omitted from the final protocol used as a record of the trial cannot be substantiated, as reportedly his lawyers have still not had access to this document.

On 4 October, Sakit Zahidov was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in Baku Court on a reduced charge of "possession of drugs for the purpose of personal consumption". Opposition journalists believe that Sakit Zahidov was convicted on account of the satirical column he wrote for Azadlıq, in which he regularly criticized the Azerbaijani government. In December he was moved to Bailovsk detention facility in Baku to a penal colony in Gobustan region. Amnesty International is concerned that Sakit Zahidov was not given a fair trial and questions the evidence on which the conviction was based. Therefore Amnesty International calls for Sakit Zahidov's immediate retrial in compliance with international fair trial standards. If it cannot be convincingly proved that he is guilty of a crime, he should be released immediately.

Background information

Amnesty International is extremely concerned that over the last two years there have been repeated encroachments on the rights of members of civil society, and in particular journalists, to exercise their rights to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.

Amnesty International has documented a number of developments of particular concern. First, the organization has received numerous reports regarding the harassment, including physical abuse, of journalists by law enforcement officials. Second, unidentified actors have carried out a series of violent attacks on journalists which have resulted in life-threatening injuries or even death, with the most recent attack taking place on 25 December 2006. These incidents have not been thoroughly, effectively or independently investigated, and have had a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country. Third, Amnesty International has received information indicating that there has been an increase in the number of politically motivated arrests. Also, the authorities continue to use criminal defamation charges as a means to silence critical views and scrutiny of official wrongdoing. The fact that the victims in virtually all cases are closely linked to opposition parties and independent media suggests a political context to these cases. Also, outspoken independent media outlets have been accused of violating administrative and regulatory standards, with consequences that have regrettably resulted in the disruption of their professional activities.

These developments have taken place despite the fact that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is enshrined in the Azerbaijani Constitution, according to which '[E]veryone may enjoy freedom of thought and speech' (Article 47). Furthermore, in a meeting with the Secretary General of the non-governmental organization Reporters Sans Frontières in April 2005, President Ilham Aliyev reportedly explicitly stated that it was "unacceptable for government officials to attack journalists". Azerbaijan also has an obligation to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression as a State Party to a number of international treaties, such as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR; Article 10) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR; Article 19).

Recommended actions:

Please send courteous letters in Azeri, Russian, English, Turkish or your own language.

Express concern about allegations that the criminal charges against Sakit Zahidov were politically motivated and that the heroin was planted on him in order to incriminate him.

Express concern that Sakit Zahidov was not given a fair trial and about the uncertainty surrounding the evidence on which the conviction was based.
State that Amnesty International is calling for an immediate retrial in line with international fair trial standards.

State that the Azerbaijani authorities must ensure that no criminal charges are brought against journalists solely as a result of their lawful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Urge the Azerbaijani government to implement the March 2003 recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the July 2005 recommendations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of Media, in regard to freedom of expression.

Please send appeals to:

President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Fax: + 994 12 492 0625
Email: president@gov.az, office@apparat.gov.az
Salutation: Dear President

Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
7 Husu Hajiyev Street
Baku 370005, AZERBAIJAN
Fax: + 994 12 492 45 90, +994 12 492 7990
Salutation: Dear Minister

Procurator General
Zakir Qaralov
Procurator General; 7 Rafibeyli Street; Baku 370001, Azerbaijan
Fax: + 994 12 492 32 30 (if someone answers ask for a fax tone)
Email: prosec@azeri.com
Salutation: Dear Procurator General


Prof. Elmira Suleymanova
Office of the Ombudsman
40 Uz. Hajibeyov Street
Fax: + 994 12 498 8574
Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.az

You may send copies to diplomatic representatives of Azerbaijan accredited to your country.




Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sir Francis Bacon on Poetry

Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (1561-1626), is known both as the father of inductive reasoning through his Baconian method of scientific observation, and for introducing the essay to the English language. Below are snippets from his essays, through which he gives us his thoughts on poetry.


from Of Truth

One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum daemonum, because it fireth the imagination; and yet, it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth the hurt; such as we spake of before.

. . . .

The poet, that beautified the sect, that was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a pleasure, to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a pleasure, to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling, or pride. Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.


from Of Unity: in Religion

The quarrels, and divisions about religion, were evils unknown to the heathen. The reason was, because the religion of the heathen, consisted rather in rites and ceremonies, than in any constant belief. For you may imagine, what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief doctors, and fathers of their church, were the poets.

. . . .

Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Agamemnon, that could endure the sacrificing of his own daughter, exclaimed: Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum.

What would he have said, if he had known of the massacre in France, or the powder treason of England? He would have been seven times more Epicure, and atheist, than he was. For as the temporal sword is to be drawn with great circumspection in cases of religion; so it is a thing monstrous to put it into the hands of the common people.


from Of Adversity

It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other (much too high for a heathen), It is true greatness, to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God. Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei. This would have done better in poesy, where transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing, which figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the world.


from Of Envy

They that desire to excel in too many matters, out of levity and vain glory, are ever envious. For they cannot want work; it being impossible, but many, in some one of those things, should surpass them. Which was the character of Adrian the Emperor; that mortally envied poets, and painters, and artificers, in works wherein he had a vein to excel.


from Of Love

By how much the more, men ought to beware of this passion, which loseth not only other things, but itself! As for the other losses, the poet's relation doth well figure them: that he that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection, quitteth both riches and wisdom.


from Of Riches

The poets feign, that when Plutus (which is Riches) is sent from Jupiter, he limps and goes slowly; but when he is sent from Pluto, he runs, and is swift of foot. Meaning that riches gotten by good means, and just labor, pace slowly; but when they come by the death of others (as by the course of inheritance, testaments, and the like), they come tumbling upon a man.


from Of Fortune

Certainly there be, whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and easiness more than the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's fortune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminondas. And that this should be, no doubt it is much, in a man's self.


from Of Building

Houses are built to live in, and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had. Leave the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to the enchanted palaces of the poets; who build them with small cost.


from Of Studies

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know, that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores. Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises.


from Of Fame

The poets make Fame a monster. They describe her in part finely and elegantly, and in part gravely and sententiously. They say, look how many feathers she hath, so many eyes she hath underneath; so many tongues; so many voices; she pricks up so many ears.

This is a flourish. There follow excellent parables; as that, she gathereth strength in going; that she goeth upon the ground, and yet hideth her head in the clouds; that in the daytime she sitteth in a watch tower, and flieth most by night; that she mingleth things done, with things not done; and that she is a terror to great cities. But that which passeth all the rest is: They do recount that the Earth, mother of the giants that made war against Jupiter, and were by him destroyed, thereupon in an anger brought forth Fame. For certain it is, that rebels, figured by the giants, and seditious fames and libels, are but brothers and sisters, masculine and feminine. But now, if a man can tame this monster, and bring her to feed at the hand, and govern her, and with her fly other ravening fowl and kill them, it is somewhat worth. But we are infected with the style of the poets.



Thursday, January 04, 2007

Misplaced Leisure Water: The Displaced Function of Poetry

In a Books Inq. blog post from yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer's books editor, Frank Wilson, linked to this item in Poetry Magazine:

Does Poetry Have a Social Function?

Here is some of what he wrote:

On New Year's Eve, one of our dinner guests, a beautiful Chinese woman, read several classical Chinese poems for us. This proved that Auden was right when he said that when you hear real poetry it doesn't matter if you know the language--you know it is poetry. Our friend also sang, with the voice of an angel, one of Li Bai's poems. It is this sort of experience of poetry that makes such a question as the one posed on this link seem so banal. The essence of poetry is enchantment, not utility.

What follows, is a response to both Frank Wilson's blog post and the article on Poetry's web site, which is a conversation among poets Stephen Burt, Daisy Fried, Major Jackson, and Emily Warn.


I found the answers banal. I was hoping Major Jackson would kick the discussion into gear. Daisy Fried spoke too often about what she considers politically correct for poets to write about. Whereas the poet must write what the poet is given to write, hopefully having gold and not mud, and whether it agrees with Fried's politics or not.

To Joseph Campbell, the poet of current society was the shaman of the past, still being born as ever. Inspiration, whether something is carried over from primordial soup, communicated by muse-gods, given by God, whether from an extra-sensitivity to the sounds of earth or some yet-charted waves from distant novas exploding, there is a constancy to what shamans and poets produce. Wisdom is wisdom. Art is art. And poetry is poetry.

One social value of fresh poetry, then, is to say in current terms what had been said in classic poetry and scripture. For whatever the current society, it has inevitably misinterpreted its poetry, inevitably bringing about outdated customs and neurotic modes of thinking, but also grave consequences.

Poetry does not have to have such meaning, though. It may have only its sound or, as Frank Wilson points out, the sound and the poet present to speak it. I experienced this listening to Ko Un. As much enjoyment came from his speaking the poems as through the anticipation of what his translator would say in English. This is the music of poetry.

It is not necessary for a poem to contain both wisdom and music. But in some of the best poems, these aspects work together, the rhythm, the sounds, and language.

I want to take up the poem these poets were discussing, "The Mill-Race" by Anne Winters. Here is a link to the poem in full on the page:

PoetryFoundation.org: The Mill-Race

And here is a link to Anne Winters reading it:

New York Times: Books: Audio: Anne Winters Reads From 'The Displaced of Capital'

I was struck by the "leisure water." It represents poetry. A complaint within the poem is that the bus riders are losing the poetry of their lives, that even this was being placed at the whim and utility of the current economy and politics. How extraordinarily anti-poetry.

But this "leisure water" also answers the very question of a function of poetry. A thirst sure, but in the poem, the water reflects the sky, and it is in a "glib stretch" (italics mine).

Here are excerpts wherein the poets discuss that poem:

Daisy Fried:

Anne Winters's "The Mill-Race," about office workers in lower Manhattan, contains virtuoso description of the urban scene: workers, weather, light, limos of the bosses, buses of the employees. Though its subject matter and politics are both clear and attractive, content has very little to do with why the poem is extraordinary.

Is it a useful poem? I like political poetry; it acknowledges that politics are part of life. Certainly at this historical moment, many of us are hungry for poems that look outward, not just into the self or into what seems like another kind of narcissism, a turning away via the knee-jerk (therefore empty) "avant garde" linguistic gesture. America's crimes may be forcing poets back into the world. It's not as though it's optional. Eventually it becomes political necessity.

Emily Warn:

"The Mill-Race" by Anne Winters serves as proof text. How can its content not matter? How can one not relate to the drained faces of the women office workers on an evening bus, to their scant hope that, despite their misspent, dwindling hours in the service of Labor, they have preserved a shred of self?

. . . .It won't take us
altogether, we say, the mill-race--it won't churn us up altogether. We'll keep
a glib stretch of leisure water, like our self's self--to reflect the sky.
But we won't (says the bus rider now to herself). Nothing's
left over, really, from labor. They've taken it all for the mill-race.

Will this poem end drudgery? No. Does it disclose the pathos of other human beings and the source of their suffering? Yes. Is it this capacity that will help us, better than ammo or dollars, find a way through these harrowing times? Absolutely.

Daisy Fried:

Emily Warn seems to argue that content supplies poems' utility. Content matters--poetry is far more than a formal game--but does not supply utility. Quality does. "The Mill-Race" is good and useful because it presents in extraordinary language an aspect of the human condition, not some false solution having to do with feel-good "relat(ing) to drained faces." Emily should reread the very lines she quotes if she thinks this poem is about workers "preserv(ing) a shred of self." The poet is there on the bus, we are there, we are all in the mill-race.

Emily Warn:

Poems such as "The Mill-Race" make us aware of the social conditions that shape our relations; their language helps us dwell in, puzzle out, and feel the conditions and the relations, no matter how terrible, making a change in them more possible. It is this possibility, this hope, that makes poetry as necessary as a paycheck.

"The Mill-Race" ends on the word "salt," ("but it's mostly the miller's curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-/mill, that makes sea, salt"). The salt sting is both our empathy for the workers' weariness and the fact of their individual lives ground to salt. Over centuries, the poem also says, these workers have raised cathedrals, invented art. The work, "the curse-gift" of the poet, is to tell the story of a person who has no story other than the story of relations. As Celan wrote, "I am you/if I am."

Stephen Burt:

Rather, my point is that different poems do different things, and good poems (such as "The Mill-Race") do many things at once. If there are universal truths about the communicative functions in poems--truths about all good poems, not just about "The Mill-Race"--they are so universal that they do not count as social, by my lights: they concern communication among just two persons at a time, whether the two meet face-to-face, or whether implicit author and genuine reader live thousands of years apart.


They never merge the point of the discussion with the point of the poem. It is almost as if the poem worked its way into everyone's subconscious, but they never worked out why. No one mentioned that this poem is about a social function poetry can have. They simply used it as if it functioned.

This is part of how we participate in the art or poetry that we make of the sounds, clay, landscapes that we have. We take sounds and make music, fields and make golf courses, food and make fine cuisine, words and make poems, and so forth--and we use them in our lives. And just as sometimes the poet cannot fulfill the muse, the reader does not either. Thus more poetry needed.

I went to the web to get support for this point, and found it made in a most unlikely way by Dan Chiasson here:

Slate: The Anne Winters Challenge: Should a Marxist poet be stylistically ornate?

He quotes the last stanza:

It's not a water-mill really, labor. It's like the nocturnal
paper-mill pulverizing, crushing each fiber of rag into atoms,
or the workhouse tread-mill, smooth-lipped, that wore down a London of doxies and sharps,
or the flour-mill, faërique, that raised the cathedrals and wore out hosts of dust-demons,
but it's mostly the miller's curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-
mill, that makes the sea, salt.

Here is the question he is asking:

What to do about this "faerique in the flour mill" issue--the frisson between subject matter and poetic language?

Aha! Nice. Here we have a discussion of the disconcert between the language in the poem and the lives of the bus riders. That's what's missing in their lives, the poetry. Specifically this poem. Point made in the asking of a question. Thank you, Mr. Chiasson.

But here is what Chiasson says:

But when you start bringing these kinds of objections up--when they start interfering with your enjoyment of works of art—you realize what an impoverished discussion we've all been having, these past years, about art and its connection to experience. We've come to imagine that there needs to be a traceable, obvious connection between "style" in art and subject matter. An art of the people better have lots of swear-words and spitting in it. And honking horns. An art of the intellect should be about Big Ideas. An art of theoretical density has got to be unintelligible. An art of great beauty should mention snow fields and sunsets. Art by Southerners should be full of dirt-roads and hounds. If this sounds parodic, read around in contemporary literature with my inventory in mind. Contemporary literature is parodic.

Oh well.

By the way, the poets took up the idea of the "Hard-working Roto Rooter reading poetry." But none of them mentioned that it is that guy writing it.



Monday, January 01, 2007

from Poem a Day: "New Year Snow" by Frances Horovitz

For Christmas, I received two super poetry books, not yet in my library. My sister gave me one with the poem below, "New Year Snow" by Frances Horovitz. It is the poem for January 1st in: Poem A Day, Volume 3: 366 poems, old and new--one for each day of the year.

The book is edited by Retta Bowen, Nick Temple, Nicholas Albery, and Stephanie Wienrich, and published by Zoland Books. I am looking forward to reading the book as designed--throughout the year.

Also below, is the commentary on the page about the poet, an excellent feature of the book.


by Frances Horovitz (1938-1983)

New Year Snow

For three days we waited,
a bowl of dull quartz for sky.
At night the valley dreamed of snow,
lost Christmas angels with dark-white wings
flailing the hills.
I dreamed a poem, perfect
as the first five-pointed flake,
that melted at dawn:
a Janus-time
to peer back at guttering dark days,
trajectories of the spent year.
And then snow fell.
Within an hour, a world immaculate
as January's new-hung page.
We breathe the radiant air like men new-born.
The children rush before us.
As in a dream of snow
we track through crystal fields
to the green horizon
and the sun's reflected rose.


Frances Horovitz read English and Drama at Bristol University and trained as an actress at RADA. After graduating, she concentrated mainly on reading poetry and only began to write herself following her marriage to the poet Michael Horovitz in 1964. Her first pamphlet was published in 1967, followed by The High Tower in 1970. Her son Adam, now also a poet, was born in 1971 and the Horovitzs moved to a remote offshoot of the Slad Valley in Gloucestershire, which became a source of inspiration for many of the poems in her third book. It is from this book that "New Year Snow" is taken. She married Roger Garfitt shortly before her death in October 1983.


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