Inspired by Yeats: contemporary poets weigh in

William Butler Yeats, age 38_December 1903_portrait by Alice Broughton

William Butler Yeats, age 38_December 1903_portrait by Alice Broughton

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Hound Voice
Because we love bare hills and stunted trees
And were the last to choose the settled ground,
Its boredom of the desk or of the spade, because
So many years companioned by a hound,
Our voices carry; and though slumber-bound,
Some few half wake and half renew their choice,
Give tongue, proclaim their hidden name: ‘Hound Voice.’
The women that I picked spoke sweet and low
And yet gave tongue. ‘Hound Voices’ were they all.
We picked each other from afar and knew
What hour of terror comes to test the soul,
And in that terror’s name obeyed the call,
And understood, what none have understood,
Those images that waken in the blood.
Some day we shall get up before the dawn
And find our ancient hounds before the door,
And wide awake know that the hunt is on;
Stumbling upon the blood-dark track once more,
Then stumbling to the kill beside the shore;
Then cleaning out and bandaging of wounds,
And chants of victory amid the encircling hounds.
. . .
Margaret Atwood (born 1939)
Because We Love Bare Hills and Stunted Trees
Because we love bare hills and stunted trees
we head north when we can,
past taiga, tundra, rocky shoreline, ice.
Where does it come from, this sparse taste
of ours? How long
did we roam this hardscape, learning by heart
all that we used to know:
turn skin fur side in,
partner with wolves, eat fat, hate waste,
carve spirit, respect the snow,
build and guard flame?
Everything once had a soul,
even this clam, this pebble.
Each had a secret name.
Everything listened.
Everything was real,
but didn’t always love you.
You needed to take care.
We long to go back there,
or so we like to feel
when it’s not too cold.
We long to pay that much attention.
But we’ve lost the knack;
also there’s other music.
All we hear in the wind’s plainsong
is the wind.
. . .

William Butler Yeats
Between extremities
Man runs his course;
A brand, or flaming breath.
Comes to destroy
All those antinomies
Of day and night;
The body calls it death,
The heart remorse.
But if these be right
What is joy?


A tree there is that from its topmost bough
Is half all glittering flame and half all green
Abounding foliage moistened with the dew;
And half is half and yet is all the scene;
And half and half consume what they renew,
And he that Attis’ image hangs between
That staring fury and the blind lush leaf
May know not what he knows, but knows not grief.


Get all the gold and silver that you can,
Satisfy ambition, animate
The trivial days and ram them with the sun,
And yet upon these maxims meditate:
All women dote upon an idle man
Although their children need a rich estate;
No man has ever lived that had enough
Of children’s gratitude or woman’s love.
No longer in Lethean foliage caught
Begin the preparation for your death
And from the fortieth winter by that thought
Test every work of intellect or faith,
And everything that your own hands have wrought
And call those works extravagance of breath
That are not suited for such men as come
proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.


My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.


Although the summer Sunlight gild
Cloudy leafage of the sky,
Or wintry moonlight sink the field
In storm-scattered intricacy,
I cannot look thereon,
Responsibility so weighs me down.
Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.


A rivery field spread out below,
An odour of the new-mown hay
In his nostrils, the great lord of Chou
Cried, casting off the mountain snow,
‘Let all things pass away.’
Wheels by milk-white asses drawn
Where Babylon or Nineveh
Rose; some conquer drew rein
And cried to battle-weary men,
‘Let all things pass away.’
From man’s blood-sodden heart are sprung
Those branches of the night and day
Where the gaudy moon is hung.
What’s the meaning of all song?
‘Let all things pass away.’


The Soul. Seek out reality, leave things that seem.
The Heart. What, be a singer born and lack a theme?
The Soul. Isaiah’s coal, what more can man desire?
The Heart. Struck dumb in the simplicity of fire!
The Soul. Look on that fire, salvation walks within.
The Heart. What theme had Homer but original sin?


Must we part, Von Hugel, though much alike, for we
Accept the miracles of the saints and honour sanctity?
The body of Saint Teresa lies undecayed in tomb,
Bathed in miraculous oil, sweet odours from it come,
Healing from its lettered slab. Those self-same hands perchance
Eternalised the body of a modern saint that once
Had scooped out pharaoh’s mummy. I – though heart might find relief
Did I become a Christian man and choose for my belief
What seems most welcome in the tomb – play a pre-destined part.
Homer is my example and his unchristened heart.
The lion and the honeycomb, what has Scripture said?
So get you gone, Von Hugel, though with blessings on your head.
. . .

Harry Clifton (born 1952)
Chez Jeanette

My fiftieth year had come and gone.
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop…
– W.B. Yeats
And so do I, past fifty now,
In the gilt and mirror-glass
Of Chez Jeanette’s immigrant bar.
Wine, cassis, an overflow
Spilt on the table – marble
Like Yeats’ but more of a mess.
Behind the bottles on the shelf
A real, a transcendental self
Is hiding. Great Master,
Tell me, as you sat with your cup,
And grace came down like interruption,
Did these flakes of ceiling plaster
Also drown in your dregs?
The fallen angels, broken spirits
Told like tea-leaves, disinherited,
Sold into Egypt? Child-wives, pregnant,
Hide the future, keep it dark.
Splinter-groups of young Turks
Stand at the counter, arguing.
And the saucers of small change
Accumulate. The minutes, the hours,
If grace or visitation
Ever enter . . . A prostitute,
Bottom of the range,
Her hangdog client, middle-aged,
Go next door, to the short-time hotel.
In the hour that God alone sees,
We are all anonymities,
No-one finds us, we cannot be paged
In Dante’s Heaven, Swedenborg’s Hell
Or the visions of William Yeats.
And whether the hour is early or late
Or out of time, I do not know.
But for now, it comes down to this –
The marble top, the wine, cassis,
And the finite afterglow.

. . .
William Butler Yeats
The Folly of Being Comforted
One that is ever kind said yesterday:
“Your well-belovéd’s hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.”
Heart cries, “No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.”
Heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head,
You’d know the folly of being comforted.

. . .

Rita Ann Higgins (born 1955)
The Bottom Lash
One that is ever kind said yesterday:
My dearest dear,
your temples are starting to resemble
the contents of our ash bucket
on a wet day.
What’s with your eyelashes?
They grow more sparse by the tic tock.
Are you biting them off
or having them bitten off,
like the lovers do during intimacy
in the Trobriand islands?
You have no bottom lashes at all.
Personally, I wouldn’t be seen out
without my bottom lash.
A bare bottom lash is tantamount
to social annihilation.
A word to the wise, my dearest dear,
the next time you lamp the hedger
you might ask him to clip clop
your inner and outer nostril hairs.
It’s not a good look for a woman.
By the by, doteling,
I’ve noticed the veins on your neck
are bulging like billio
when a male of the species
walks into the room.
Is that a natural phenomenon
or is it a practised technique?
Up or down you’ll get no accolades for it,
nor for the black pillows
under your balding eyes.
Apart from that, my dearest dear,
your beauty is second to none.
. . .

The above poems by Atwood, Clifton and Higgins, first appeared in The Irish Times (September 2015).

For other poems by W.B. Yeats (including translations into Spanish) click on the link:

. . . . .

Cinco poetas irlandeses: Cannon, Sheehan, Níc Aodha, Ní Chonchúir, Bergin

Orange Tulip_a painting in progress by Eva K.

Moya Cannon (nac. 1956, Dunfanaghy, Condado de Donegal)
Olvidar los tulipanes
Hoy en la terraza
él está señalando con el bastón,
está preguntando:
¿Cuál es el nombre de esas flores?
Vacacionando en Dublín en los sesenta
ha comprado los cinco bulbos originales por una libra.
Los ha plantado, los ha fertilizado durante treinta y cinco años.
Los dividió, los almacenaba en el cobertizo sobre alambrada,
listos para plantar en hileras rectas
con sus corolas intensas de rojo y amarillo.
Tesoros transportados en galeones, tres siglos antes,
desde Turquía hasta Amsterdam.
Ahora es abril y ellos se balancean con el viento del condado Donegal,
encima de las hojas esbeltas de los claveles que todavía duermen.
Fue un hombre que cavaba surcos correctos y que recogió grosellas negras;
que enseñó a hileras de niños las partes de la oración, tiempos y declinaciones
debajo de un mapamundi de tela agrietada.
Y le encantaba enseñar el cuento de Marco Polo y de sus tíos que,
zarrapastrosos después de diez años de viaje,
volvían a casa pues rajaron el forro de sus chamarras
y se desparramaron los rubies de Catay.
Ahora, perdiendo primero los nombres,
él está de pie junto a su lecho de flores, preguntando:
¿Tú, cómo llamas a esas flores?

. . .
Moya Cannon (born 1956, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal)
Forgetting Tulips
Today, on the terrace, he points with his walking-stick and asks:
What do you call those flowers?
On holiday in Dublin in the sixties
he bought the original five bulbs for one pound.
He planted and manured them for thirty-five years.
He lifted them, divided them,
stored them on chicken wire in the shed,
ready for planting in a straight row,
high red and yellow cups–
treasure transported in galleons
from Turkey to Amsterdam, three centuries earlier.
In April they sway now, in a Donegal wind,
above the slim leaves of sleeping carnations.
A man who dug straight drills and picked blackcurrants;
who taught rows of children parts of speech,
tenses and declensions
under a cracked canvas map of the world–
who loved to teach the story
of Marco Polo and his uncles arriving home,
bedraggled after ten years journeying,
then slashing the linings of their coats
to spill out rubies from Cathay–
today, losing the nouns first,
he stands by his flower bed and asks:
What do you call those flowers?

. . .

Eileen Sheehan (nac. 1963, Scartaglin, Condado de Kerry)
Donde tú estás
Tú te tumbas en cualquiera cama,
te tumbas en el fondo, y el cojín acepta
el peso de tu cabeza,
el colchón recibiendo tu cuerpo como el invitado anhelado.
Te mueves durante el reposo
y las sábanas responden a tu giro;
las cobijas se adaptan y se amoldan a tu contorno.
El aire de la habitación toma el tiempo con tu respiración,
aceptando un desplazamiento mientras
yo rodeo las paredes de la ciudad que estás ‘soñando’.
Mis papeles
– están raídos y deshilachados al borde;
esa pintura que tengo de yo mismo – está nublándose,
manchada por la lluvia: mi cara está disolviendo enfrente de mí.
La noche te agarra en el sueño y estás aplacado por sus comodidades,
como las telas absorbiendo el sudor que despides.
Mis llantos van ignorados mientras estoy de pie por la verja,
implorando un acceso.
No hay nadie pedir ayuda mientras
te mudas una capa como te extiendes allí – roque;
mi solo testigo fiable.

. . .

Eileen Sheehan (born 1963, Scartaglin, Co. Kerry)
Where you are
You lie down in whatever bed
you lie down in, the pillow accepting
the weight of your head, the mattress
receiving your body like a longed-for guest.
You move in your sleep and the sheets
react to your turnings, the blankets adjust,
shaping themselves to your outline.
The air
in the room keeps time with your breathing,
accepts being displaced while I circle the walls
of the city you dream.
My papers
are worn, frayed at the edges;  that picture
I have of myself, clouding-over and spotted
with rain: my face is dissolving before me.  The night
holds you in sleep, you are stilled by its comforts;
by the fabrics absorbing the sweat you expel.

My cries go unheeded as I stand at the gate,
pleading admittance. There is no one to turn to
as you shed a layer of your skin while you lie there,
dead to the world;  my one reliable witness.

. . .
© 2009, Eileen Sheehan

. . .
Colette Níc Aodha (nac. 1967, Shrule, Condado de Mayo)
Buscando en los annales
por los acontecimientos que sucedieron
durante una época diferente;
recreando el Tiempo en las ruinas antiguas,
tocando la música de los ancianos,
pasos de baile de los ascendientes.
Anoche yo visité al lugar de mi padre
pero encontré la derrota de
una casa confeccionada de piel
mientras una otra ha estado dado forma
de abajo por sus huesos.
. . .

Colette Níc Aodha (born 1967, Shrule, Co. Mayo)
Searching the annals
for events which took place
in a different era
Recreating time in old ruins
Playing ancient music
Dancing steps of our ancestors
Last night I visited my father’s place
but found a ruin of a house
crafted from skin
as another was shaped
below from his bone.
. . .
Nuala Ní Chonchúir (nac. 1970, Dublin)
La luna está magullada esta noche.
Moreteada y hinchada está – pero
fanfarronea sobre nosotros
y jala júbilo a la rasca.
Luna de sebo, luna electrizante,
ella carga el cielo, y
es un foco descarado por encima de los árboles sazonados de escarcha.
Y aquí abajo, donde añoran nuestros ojos,
nos arrastramos a la iglesia en la plaza, y
hacemos las paces uno al otro – en el canto.

. . .

Nuala Ní Chonchúir (born 1970, Dublin)
The moon is battered tonight, bruised and swollen,
but she swanks above us, bringing joy to the chill.
Tallow-moon, electric-moon, she shoulders the sky,
a brazen spotlight over trees salted with frost.
And down here, eyes aching, we creep to the church
on the square, make peace with each other in song.
. . .
from: The Juno Charm (2011)
. . .
Tara Bergin (nac. 1975, Dublin)
Bandera roja
Una vez uno de ellos me mostró cómo:
Giras esta mano (la derecha) para agarrar la culata.
Giras esta mano (la izquierda) para agarrar el cañon.
Tocó mi rodilla,
y oculté mi sorpresa;
pero ahora ha cambiado su canción.
Tengo fiebre, golondrina, estoy enferma.
Su bandera ondula roja,
la puedo oír desde mi ventana,
la escucho raída como un trapo rojo rasgado.
Ve por él, pajarito,
ve y diles ¡peligro! ¡peligro!
Lo llevaré como Vestido Dominical.
Lo llevaré cruzando el páramo
donde practican con sus pistolas.
Qué avergonzados estarán
de lastimar a una muchacha
joven y bonita como yo.
. . .
Tara Bergin (born 1975, Dublin)
Red Flag
Once one of them showed me how to:
You turn this (the right) hand to grasp the stock.
You turn this (the left) hand to grasp the barrel.
He touched my knee,
and I hid my surprise –
but now he’s changed his tune.
I’ve a fever, little sparrow, I am sick.
Their flag is flying red,
I can hear it from my window,
I hear it tattered like a torn red rag.
Go and get it, little bird,
go and tell them danger! danger!
I will wear it as my Sunday Dress.
I’ll wear it walking on the moor
where they practise with their guns.
How ashamed they’ll be
to hurt a young and pretty
girl like me.
. . .

Versiones en español del inglés por Alexander Best, excepto Bandera Rojo de Tara Bergin: traducido por Juana Adcock (nac. 1982, Monterrey, Mx.)

. . . . .

El Día Internacional de la Mujer: Poemas / International Women’s Day: Poems

All Women Rise Up_International Womens Day Toronto Canada_Saturday March 5th 2016_POSTER

. . .

Qiu Jin ( 秋瑾 1875-1907, Chinese revolutionary and poet)
Capping Rhymes With Sir Shih Ching From Sun’s Root Land
Don’t tell me women
are not the stuff of heroes –
I alone rode over the East Sea’s
winds for ten thousand leagues.
My poetic thoughts ever expand,
like a sail between ocean and heaven.
I dreamed of your three islands,
all gems, all dazzling with moonlight.
I grieve to think of the bronze camels,
guardians of China, lost in thorns.
Ashamed, I have done nothing;
not one victory to my name.
I simply make my war horse sweat.
Grieving over my native land
hurts my heart. So tell me:
how can I spend these days here?
A guest enjoying your spring winds?
. . .
Qiu Jin
Crimson Flooding into the River
(Translation from Mandarin: Michael A. Mikita III)
Just a short stay at the Capital
But it is already the mid-autumn festival
Chrysanthemums infect the landscape
Fall is making its mark
The infernal isolation has become unbearable here
All eight years of it make me long for my home
It is the bitter guile of them forcing us women into femininity
–We cannot win!
Despite our ability, men hold the highest rank
But while our hearts are pure, those of men are rank
My insides are afire in anger at such an outrage
How could vile men claim to know who I am?
Heroism is borne out of this kind of torment
To think that so putrid a society can provide no camaraderie
Brings me to tears!

. . .

Mina Loy (1882-1966, Anglo-American modernist poet)
Religious Instruction
This misalliance
follows the custom
for female children
to adhere to maternal practices
while the atheist father presides over
the prattle of the churchgoer
with ironical commentary from his arm-chair.
But by whichever
religious route
to brute
our forebears speed us
there is often a pair
of idle adult
accomplices in duplicity
to impose upon their brood
an assumed acceptance
of the grace of God
defamed as human megalomania
seeding the Testament
with inconceivable chastisement,
and of Christ
come with his light
of toilless lilies
To say “fear
not, it is I”
wanting us to be fearful;
He who bowed the ocean tossed
with holy feet
which supposedly dead
are suspended over head
neatly crossed in anguish
wounded with red
From these
slow-drying bloods of mysticism
the something-soul emerges
and instinct (of economy)
in every race
for reconstructing débris
has planted an avenging face
in outer darkness.


The lonely peering eye
of humanity
looked into the Néant
and turned away.


Ova’s consciousness
impulsive to commit itself to justice
—to arise and walk
its innate     straight way
out of the
accident of circumstance—
collects the levitate chattels
of its will and makes for the
magnetic horizon of liberty
with the soul’s foreverlasting
to disintegration.
So this child of Exodus
with her heritage of emigration
“sets out to seek her fortune”
in her turn
trusting to terms of literature
dodging the breeders’ determination
not to return “entities sent on consignment”
by their maker Nature
except in a condition
of moral

Lest Paul and Peter
notice the creatures
ever had had Fathers
and Mothers.
They were disgraced in their duty
should such spirits
take an express passage
through the family bodies
to arrive at Eternity
as lovely as they originally
So on whatever days
she chose to “run away”
the very
street corners of Kilburn
close in upon Ova
to deliver her
into the hands of her procreators.
Oracle of civilization:
‘Thou shalt not live by dreams alone
but by every discomfort
that proceedeth out of
. . .
Mina Loy’s “Religious Instruction” from Lunar Baedeker and Times-Tables copyright The Jargon Society, 1958.

. . .
Mina Loy
No hay Vida o Muerte
No hay vida ni muerte,
sólo actividad.
Y en lo absoluto
no hay declive.
No hay amor ni deseo,
sólo la tendencia.
Quien quiera poseer
es una no entidad.
No hay primero ni último,
sólo igualdad.
Y quien quiera dominar
es uno más en la totalidad.
No hay espacio ni tiempo,
sólo intesidad.
Y las cosas dóciles
no tienen inmensidad.
Traducción del inglés: Michelle (de MujerPalabra)
. . .
Mina Loy
There is no Life or Death
There is no Life or Death
Only activity
And in the absolute
Is no declivity.
There is no Love or Lust
Only propensity
Who would possess
Is a nonentity.
There is no First or Last
Only equality
And who would rule
Joins the majority.
There is no Space or Time
Only intensity,
And tame things
Have no immensity.
. . .

Marge Piercy (nac.1936, EE.UU. / poeta, novelista, activista social)
Ser útil
Aquellos que yo amo mejor
se meten de cabeza en su trabajo
sin demorar en el bajío;
y nadan ahí fuera con brazadas seguras,
casi fuera de la vista.
Parecen ser nativos de eso elemento,
las cabezas negras lisas de focas
que rebotan como balones semi-sumergidos.
Me gustan los que se enjaezan: bueyes a una carreta pesada;
búfalos de agua que jalan con un temple masivo,
que tensan en el barro y la ciénaga para avanzar las cosas;
quienes que hacen lo que debe hacer, una y otra vez.
Quiero estar con la gente que se sumergir en la tarea;
que va en los sembríos para cosechar;
que trabaja en línea y que difunde los costales;
hombres y mujeres que no son generales del salón y desertores del deber
sino mueven en un ritmo común
cuando tiene que traer el alimento o necesita apagar el fuego.
La tarea del mundo es algo común, generalizado, como el barro.
Si hacemos una chapuza, embadurna las manos y se desmigaja al polvo.
Pero la cosa bien hecha
tiene la forma que complace, algo limpio, sencillo, evidente.
Ánforas griegos por el vino o el aceite,
y jarrones por el maíz del pueblo hopi,
están colocados en museos
– pero sabes que eran cosas hechas para utilizar.
El jarro llora por el agua a llevar
y la persona por el trabajo que es auténtico.

. . .
Del poemario Circles on the Water © 1982 / Traducción del inglés:  Alexander Best

. . .
Marge Piercy (born 1936, American poet, novelist, social activist)
To be of use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlour generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

. . .

Marge Piercy
Para las mujeres fuertes
Una mujer fuerte es una mujer esforzada.
Una mujer fuerte es una mujer que se sostiene de puntillas
y levanta unas pesas mientras intenta cantar Boris Godunov
Una mujer fuerte es una mujer “manos a la obra”
limpiando el pozo negro de la historia.

Y mientras saca la porquería con la pala
habla de que no le importa llorar,
porque abre los conductos de los ojos…
Ni vomitar, porque estimula los músculos del estómago…
Y sigue dando paladas, con lágrimas en la nariz.

Una mujer fuerte es una mujer con una voz en la cabeza,
que le repite: “Te lo dije: sos fea, sos mala, sos tonta…
nadie más te va a querer nunca”.
“¿Por qué no eres femenina,
por qué no eres suave y discreta…
por qué no estás muerta…?

Una mujer fuerte es una mujer empeñada
en hacer algo que los demás están empeñados en que no se haga.
Está empujando la tapa de plomo de un ataúd desde adentro.
Está intentando levantar con la cabeza la tapa de una alcantarilla.
Está intentando romper una pared de acero a cabezazos…

Le duele la cabeza.
La gente que espera a que haga el agujero,
le dice:”date prisa…¡eres tan fuerte…!”

Una mujer fuerte es una mujer que sangra por dentro.
Una mujer fuerte es una mujer que se hace a sí misma.
Fuerte cada mañana mientras se le sueltan los dientes
y la espalda la destroza.
“Cada niño, un diente…”, solían decir antes.
Y ahora “por cada batalla… una cicatriz”.

Una mujer fuerte es una masa de cicatrices
que duelen cuando llueve.
Y de heridas que sangran cuando se las golpea.
Y de recuerdos que se levantan por la noche
y recorren la casa de un lado a otro, calzando botas…

Una mujer fuerte es una mujer que ansía el amor
como si fuera oxígeno, para no ahogarse…
Una mujer fuerte es una mujer que ama con fuerza
y llora con fuerza…
Y se aterra con fuerza y tiene necesidades fuertes…

Una mujer fuerte es fuerte en palabras, en actos,
en conexión, en sentimientos…
No es fuerte como la piedra
sino como la loba amamantando a sus cachorros.
La fuerza no está en ella,
pero la representa como el viento llena una vela.

Lo que la conforta es que los demás la amen,
tanto por su fuerza como por la debilidad de la que ésta emana,
como el relámpago de la nube.
El relámpago deslumbra, llueve, las nubes se dispersan
Sólo permanece el agua de la conexión, fluyendo con nosotras.
Fuerte es lo que nos hacemos unas a otras.

Hasta que no seamos fuertes juntas
una mujer fuerte es una mujer fuertemente asustada…

. . .

Traducción del inglés:  Desconocida/o

. . .
Marge Piercy
For strong women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears
in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating: I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why
aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say: hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

. . .
Fehmida Riaz (Pakistani poet who writes in Urdu / born 1946, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Come, Let us create a New Lexicon
Come let us create a new lexicon
Wherein is inserted before each word
Its meaning that we do not like
And let us swallow like bitter potion
The truth of a reality that is not ours
The water of life bursting forth from this stone
Takes a course not determined by us alone
We who are the dying light of a derelict garden
We who are filled with the wounded pride of self-delusion
We who have crossed the limits of self-praise
We who lick each of our wounds incessantly
We who spread the poisoned chalice all around
Carrying only hate for the other
On our dry lips only words of disdain for the other
We do not fill the abyss within ourselves
We do not see that which is true before our own eyes
We have not redeemed ourselves yesterday or today
For the sickness is so dear that we do not seek to be cured
But why should the many-hued new horizon
Remain to us distant and unattainable?
So why not make a new lexicon
If we emerge from this bleak abyss?
Only the first few footsteps are hard
The limitless expanses beckon us
To the dawning of a new day
We will breathe in the fresh air
Of the abundant valley that surrounds us
We will cleanse the grime of self-loathing from our faces.
To rise and fall is the game time plays
But the image reflected in the mirror of time
Includes our glory and our accomplishments
So let us raise our sight to friendship
And thus glimpse the beauty in every face
Of every visitor to this flower-filled garden
We will encounter ‘potentials’
A word in which you and me are equal
Before which we and they are the same
So come let us create a new lexicon!
. . .

Fehmida Riaz (Poetisa paquistaní, nac. 1946, Uttar Pradesh, India)
¡Ven, creemos un nuevo léxico!
¡Ven, creemos un nuevo léxico!
Uno donde el sentido de cada palabra
(que no nos gusta)
está insertado antes.
Y traguemos, como un veneno amargo,
la verdad de una realidad que no es nuestra.
El agua de vida que estalla de esta piedra
conduce un rumbo que nosotros solos no determinamos.
Nosotros – que son la luz murienda de un jardín decrépito;
nosotros – llenos del orgullo herido de nuestras ilusiones;
nosotros – que han superado los límites del autobombo;
nosotros – que lamen cada herida nuestra sin cesar;
nosotros – que hacen circular el cáliz envenenado,
nosotros – que llevan del uno al otro solo el odio,
y, sobre nuestras labias secas, nada más que palabras del desdén.
No llenamos el abismo en el interior;
no vemos con nuestros propios ojos lo que es auténtico en frente de nosotros;
no nos hemos redimido ayer o hoy;
porque nuestra enfermedad es tan preciada que no buscamos un tratamiento.
¿Pero por qué el horizonte de muchos tonos debe permanecernos como
remoto y inalcanzable?
Entonces, ¿Por qué no creamos un nuevo léxico?
Si resurgimos de este abismo austero,
solamente las primeras pisadas serán duras.
Las extensiones ilimitadas nos atraen al amanecer de un nuevo día.
Inhalaremos el aire fresco
del valle abundante que nos rodea.
Purificaremos de nuestras caras la mugre de aversión de uno mismo.
El vaivén, el auge y caída – son estos el juego que juega el Tiempo.
Pero la imagen que vemos en el espejo del Tiempo
incluye nuestra gloria también nuestros logros
– pues alcemos la mirada hasta la amistad,
por lo tanto entrever la belleza en cada rostro
de cada visitante en este jardín de muchas flores.
Nos encontraremos con ‘potenciales’,
una palabra en que tú y yo son equitativos;
una palabra en que nosotros y ellos son iguales.
¡Ven, creemos un nuevo léxico!

. . .

Traducción del inglés:  Alexander Best
. . .

Fehmida Riaz
Chador and Char-Diwari
Sire! What use is this black chador to me?
A thousand mercies, why do you reward me with this?

I am not in mourning that I should wear this
To flag my grief to the world
I am not a disease that needs to be drowned in secret darkness

I am not a sinner nor a criminal
That I should stamp my forehead with its darkness
If you will not consider me too impudent
If you promise that you will spare my life
I beg to submit in all humility,
O Master of men!
In your highness’ fragrant chambers
lies a dead body—

Who knows how long it has been rotting?
It seeks pity from you

Sire, do be so kind
Do not give me this black chador

With this black chador cover the shroudless body
lying in your chamber

For the stench that emanates from this body
Walks buffed and breathless in every alleyway
Bangs her head on every doorframe
Covering her nakedness

Listen to her heart-rending screams
Which raise strange spectres
That remain naked in spite of their chador.
Who are they ? You must know them, Sire.

Your highness must recognize them
These are the hand-maidens,
The hostages who are halal for the night.
With the breath of morning they become homeless
They are the slaves who are above
The half-share of inheritance for your
Highness’s off-spring.

These are the Bibis
Who wait to fulfill their vows of marriage
In turn, as they stand, row upon row
They are the maidens
On whose heads, when your highness laid a hand
of paternal affection,
The blood of their innocent youth stained the
whiteness of your beard with red.
In your fragrant chamber, tears of blood
life itself has shed
Where this carcass has lain
For long centuries, this body—

spectacle of the murder
of humanity.

Bring this show to an end now.
Sire, cover it up now—

Not I, but you need this chador now.

For my person is not merely a symbol of your lust:
Across the highways of life, sparkles my intelligence;
If a bead of sweat sparkles on the earth’s brow it is
my diligence.

These four walls, this chador I wish upon the
rotting carcass.
In the open air, her sails flapping, races ahead
my ship.
I am the companion of the New Adam
Who has earned my self-assured love.
. . .
Translation form Urdu: Rukhsana Ahmed

. . .
Halima Xudoyberdiyeva (born 1947, Boyovut, Uzbekistan)
Sacred Woman
(Translation from Uzbek: Johanna-Hypatia Cybeleia)

Your lovers have thrown flowers at your feet,
In solitude they have tasted honey from your lips,
And they have sold it to anyone at all,
You are sacred anyway, sacred woman.
First they came to fill your embrace, and told you to shine
You did not consent, woman, though people said the opposite
Unable to reach you, they turned their faces and called you bitter
You are sacred anyway, sacred woman.
You flutter your wings slowly and you lay your head down,
It’s been thousands of years, your eyes sparkle with tears,
A thousand and one criminals will hurt you with stones,
You are sacred anyway, sacred woman.
Though you come silently when summoned, though you come uselessly,
Though you come humbly to the drunken circle, though you come pleading to scoundrels,
Though you come oppressed to the scoundrels, though you come humbly,
You are sacred anyway, sacred woman.
In fact you’ll have amusements where you go,
Good and bad stories where you go,
You’ll have men like wild horses where you go,
You are sacred anyway, sacred woman.
Your silk-perfume body has the marks of stones,
Your bosom has the traces of heads that have leaned there,
You have the remnants of suns whose sun-fire has burned out,
You are sacred anyway, sacred woman.

. . .

Halima Xudoyberdiyeva
Water Flowing in Front of Me
To live in ease, to live in torment,
Not uselessly inclined away from you another sky,
My lifetime of hunting for hearts is over with,
There’s not even any thought of you going away.
Water flowing in front of me, my unappreciated water,
Enjoying myself for once in my life, I don’t feel relieved.
Ongoing sympathy, my secret water;
Until it dried up, I was not noticed.
I tell others don’t go away from me,
I go to find them in the dawn and evening time;
I offend others, telling them don’t show up;
I don’t even think anything about your going away.
I ran to others in cities, in towns,
You didn’t turn back or get sarcastic once.
Here I am, I’m the prey; here I am, I’ll go away,
Saying why didn’t you remind me once?
My mother, O my mother?!
. . .

Water Flowing in Front of Me in the original Uzbek:


Oldimdan Oqqan Suv
Yashamoq farog’at, yashamoq azob,
Bekorga egilmas Sizdan boshqa ko’k,
Ko’ngillarni ovlab umrim bo’pti sob,
Sizning ketishingiz xayolda ham yo’q.
Oldimdan oqqan suv, beqadr suvim,
Umrida bir yayrab, yozilmaganim.
Bor turishi shafqat, bori sir suvim,
To qurib qolguncha sezilmaganim.
Boshqalar yonimdan ketmasin debman,
Vaqt topib ularga boribman tong-kech,
Boshqalarga ozor yetmasin debman,
Sizga ham yetishin o’ylamabman hech.
Boshqalarga chopdim shahar, kentda man,
Bir qaytarib yo bir kesatmadingiz,
Manam g’animatman, manam ketaman,
Deb nechun bir bora eslatmadingiz?
Onam, onam-a?!

. . . . .