Old Marx (tiếng Anh)
I try to envision his last winter,
London, cold and damp, the snow’s curt kisses
on empty streets, the Thames’ black water.
Chilled prostitutes lit bonfires in the park.
Vast locomotives sobbed somewhere in the night.
The workers spoke so quickly in the pub
that he couldn’t catch a single word.
Perhaps Europe was richer and at peace,
but the Belgians still tormented the Congo.
And Russia? Its tyranny? Siberia?
He spent evenings staring at the shutters.
He couldn’t concentrate, rewrote old work,
reread young Marx for days on end,
and secretly admired that ambitious author.
He still had faith in his fantastic vision,
but in moments of doubt
he worried that he’d given the world only
a new version of despair;
then he’d close his eyes and see nothing
but the scarlet darkness of his lids.
In valleys (tiếng Anh)
And the lovely Garonne, which passes
through drowsy villages each night
like a priest with the last sacrament.
Dark clouds grow in the sky.
The Visigoths live on, in certain faces.
In summer the empire of insects spreads.
You consider how not to be yourself:
is it only on journeys, in valleys,
which open others’ wounds?
In a bookshop the salesclerk says
about the author of “To the Lighthouse”__
per Virginia. As if she might
turn up at any minute, on a bicycle,
with her long, sad face.
But Paul Valéry (of the Academy) thought
history didn’t exist. Perhaps he was right.
Perhaps we’ve been taken in. When he was dying,
General de Gaulle tried to find him
penicillin. Too late.
Impossible friendships (tiếng Anh)
For example, with someone who no longer is,
who exists only in yellowed letters.
Or long walks beside a stream,
whose depths hold hidden
porcelain cups—and the talks about philosophy
with a timid student or the postman.
A passerby with proud eyes
whom you’ll never know.
Friendship with this world, ever more perfect
(if not for the salty smell of blood).
The old man sipping coffee
in St.-Lazare, who reminds you of someone.
Faces flashing by
in local trains—
the happy faces of travelers headed perhaps
for a splendid ball, or a beheading.
And friendship with yourself
—since after all you don’t know who you are.
Defending poetry, etc. (tiếng Anh)
Yes, defending poetry, high style, etc.,
but also summer evenings in a small town
where gardens waft and cats sit quietly
on doorsteps, like Chinese philosophers.
Blake (tiếng Anh)
I watch William Blake, who spotted angels
every day in treetops
and met God on the staircase
of his little house and found light in grimy alleys—
Blake, who died
in a London thronged
with streetwalkers, admirals, and miracles,
William Blake, engraver, who labored
and lived in poverty but not despair,
who received burning signs
from the sea and from the starry sky,
who never lost hope, since hope
was always born anew like breath,
I see those who walked like him on graying streets,
headed toward the dawn’s rosy orchid.
My favorite poets (tiếng Anh)
My favorite poets
They lived in different countries
and different ages
surrounded by ordinariness
by good people and bad
they lived modestly
like an apple in an orchard
They loved clouds
they lifted their heads
a great armada
of light and shade
sailed above them
a film was playing
that still hasn’t ended
Moments of bitterness
likewise moments of joy
Sometimes they knew
what the world was
and wrote hard words
on soft paper
Sometimes they knew nothing
and were like children
on a school playground
when the first drop
of warm rain
Suitcase (tiếng Anh)
Krakow was overcast that morning, the hills steamed.
It was raining in Munich, in valleys the Alps
lay hidden and heavy as stones.
Only in Athens did I glimpse the sun, it
turned the air, the whole air,
the whole immense flotilla of the air
to trembling gold.
As the religious writers say, I suddenly
became a new man.
I'm just a tourist in the visible world,
one of a thousand shadows
drifting through airports' vast halls-
and my green suitcase, like a faithful dog, follows me
on little wheels.
I'm just an absentminded tourist,
bur I love the light.
Another life (tiếng Anh)
You like leafing through biographies
There you’re in another life
How strange, how startling
to turn up in the dark woods of another life
But you can leave at any moment
for the street or the park,
or at night from the balcony
you like to see the stars,
belonging to no one,
stars like knives that wound us
without a drop of blood
stars pure and shining
Love at first sight
They’re both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them
Such certainty is beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.
Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
that there’d been nothing between them
But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallways—perhaps they’ve passed by each other a million times?
I want to ask them
if they don’t remember—
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
a curt “wrong number” caught in the receiver?—
but I know the answer
No, they don’t remember.
They’d be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.
Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred a laugh,
and then leaped aside.
There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn’t read them yet.
Perhaps three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain leaf fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood’s thicket?
There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch had covered another
Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
One night, perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.
I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.