August 1914

WWI

Reninghe, Belgium, 1916. (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

 

 

August 1914

By Isaac Rosenberg

What in our lives is burnt
In the fire of this?
The heart’s dear granary?
The much we shall miss?
Three lives hath one life—
Iron, honey, gold.
The gold, the honey gone—
Left is the hard and cold.
Iron are our lives
Molten right through our youth.
A burnt space through ripe fields,
A fair mouth’s broken tooth.

Jules Laforgue in the Far West

zabriskie

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speeding

girl with car

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kiss

Michelangelo Antonioni, Scenes from Zabriskie Point, 1970 [Color Film Stills]

        

Albums

by Jules Laforgue

People have told me about life in the Far-West,
And my blood has groaned: “If only that were my country!…”
Without class in the old world, to live without faith or law,
Desperado! Over there, over there, I will be king!…
Oh! Over there to scalp myself of my European brain!
To swagger, to become once again a virgin antelope,
Without literature, a boy of prey, citizen
Of chance and spouting Californian slang!
A vague and pure settler, stockbreeder, architect,
Hunter, fisherman, gambler, up above the Pandectes!

___________________
Jules Laforgue, translation from Walt Whitman Among The French, Betsy Erkkila. New York: Princeton University Press, 1980.

 

 

Laforgue

 

Albums

On m’a dit la vie au Far-West et les Prairies,
Et mon sang a gémi : « Que voilà ma patrie!… »
Déclassé du vieux monde, être sans foi ni loi,
Desperado ! là-bas; là-bas, je serais roi!….
Oh là-bas, m’y scalper de mon cerveau d’Europe!
Piaffer, redevenir une vierge antilope,
Sans littérature, un gars de proie, citoyen
Du hasard et sifflant l’argot californien!
Un colon vague et pur, éleveur, architecte,
Chasseur, pêcheur, joueur, au-dessus des Pandectes!
Entre la mer; et les États Mormons! Des venaisons
Et du whisky! vêtu de cuir, et le gazon
Des Prairies pour lit, et des ciels des premiers âges
Riches comme des corbeilles de mariage!….
Et puis quoi ? De bivouac en bivouac, et la Loi
De Lynch ; et aujourd’hui des diamants bruts aux doigts
Et ce soir nuit de jeu, et demain la refuite
Par la Prairie et vers la folie des pépites!….
Et, devenu vieux, la ferme au soleil-levant,
Une vache laitière et des petits-enfants….
Et, comme je dessine au besoin, à l’entrée
Je mettrais: « Tatoueur des bras de la contrée! »
Et voilà. Et puis, si mon grand cœur de Paris
Me revenait, chantant : « Oh! pas encor guéri!
« Et ta postérité, pas pour longtemps coureuse !…. »
Et si ton vol, Condor des Montagnes-Rocheuses,
Me montrait l’Infini ennemi du comfort,
Eh bien, j’inventerais un culte d’Âge d’or,
Un code social, empirique et mystique
Pour des Peuples Pasteurs, modernes et védiques !….
Oh ! qu’ils sont beaux les feux de paille! qu’ils sont fous,                                                                                                                  Les albums ! et non incassables, mes joujoux !….

_____________
Jules Laforgue, La Revue Indépendante  (April, 1888)

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)

Maya Angelou

 

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

_______________________
Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

Bearden pond

Romare Bearden, Tapestry “Recollection Pond” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1976)

 

 

Sympathy
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

___________________

Paul Laurence Dunbar, “Sympathy” from Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899, rep. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co., 1913)

Dunbar

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