Siddhartha as a boy is willful

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Siddhartha as a boy is willful:
shirks his chores and doesn’t listen
to his Mom — who maybe knows,
but doesn’t really care that his en-

lightenment one day inspires
a needful world. Instead, she’d quite
prefer Siddhartha do his homework.
Tell me (she says) this enlight-

enment, it pays? You’ll need a job,
it’s no fun living always tighten-

ing your belt, believe you me.
At least a fall-back when enlighten-

ment won’t make ends meet!  — It’s well
Siddhartha pays no mind, content
to poke about, mindfully aimless,
ambling toward enlightenment.

 

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Paradise (pt.3)

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Up a thousand steps,
a thousand steps and a dusty lane,
Fig-trees, leaves the color of the sea,
glint of sea-mirror, whence one had started;
A violin bowed by skillful hands,
playing Vivaldi, not practicing, playing to be heard;
And Il Poeta, come to stay the weekend,
come to see his daughter,
His daughter, and not his wife,
and also the skillful woman who plays Vivaldi.

The eye that covets,
The hand that moves upon the impulse of the eye.
It has been this way for some time,
and so why should we speak of it?

And a thousand steps below,
upon the promenade, the women in their finery,
the men not less fine.

And Dorothy has done with Henry James at last,
Only she may read The Princess Casamassima again,
Or perhaps start in on one of the French novelists…

And why should it be spoken of?

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Paradise (pt.2)

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“I believed in Zeus & Apollo & not in Christ,
and the nun: ‘well,
it’s all the same religion.’
She was Italian, after all…”

The golden dust footprint-deep on the road
& the air golden with sun-light
& around any turning of the road a tree or a god,

a god or a goddess,
ivy-tressed,
skin the color of sun-light,
dusted with gold, dust of autumn grapes,
the old wise eyes, half-lidded, —
“She turned her eyes to me,
and she inclined her head, so;
and the light of the golden hour
shone on her shoulder,
and on her soft throat,
and I came to her there…”

 

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Paradise (pt.1)

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And the sea,
the sea tranquil this winter’s day;
and Ezra, old man gone silent at last, —
ear, ear for the sea-surge
— gone silent, hearing no voices,

only the sea, the measureless sea
fills his ears
bidding him be silent,
bidding him hear no voices

who took genius for wisdom
who took passion for faith
who for atonement took sadness and silence,

took bitterness, despairing of Paradise.

“How are you today, Maestro?”
“Senile!”

And the great sea
surges, surges, the world’s measure.
He may hear it who has the ear for it,
he may bring it forth who has a tongue for it.

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Anyway (poem written with a found pencil)

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I don’t know why
it never occurred to me before
but today I thought
that I could kiss you
something serious
for letting me know poetry
after all is
a respectable thing to love

so even though it’s years on
and you, last time we met,
hated me, anyway
there’s a kiss outstanding
you don’t really want
and I won’t really give

and that’s poetry too
as much as anything is

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No Evil Star

Jean_Dodal_Tarot_trump_17The world laments with many tongues;
You had your one.
But you said enough, with your rhymes and your songs
And your crying, crying, crying all night long.
You were just killing time till it was time to go
But found time dies too slow.

It’s all right now, I think you’d say.
Maybe there was a better change you could have made
But finally they’re all the same.
After the games you’d played with pain
The gas was easy, anyway.

Were you afraid? Who wouldn’t be?
You knew the soul is what it feels.
A private pain is no less real:
Yours grew until it had to be set free.
I guess you did it perfectly.

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Post-Script (Anno 1945)

(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German)

Bloch_portrait-of-a-boy
I’ve traveled far in thirteen years –
Although what I looked for was hardly romantic;
But without any taste for new frontiers
Still I seem to have crossed the Atlantic.

All that I had, I’ve left behind
But the moment I look around, I find
I’ve a child like the one my parents knew:
His parents are immigrants, through and through.

My son writes “ALIEN” – learning to spell.
He tells me, “Don’t speak German, dear.”
He’s eight. He wants to know, as well,
Is it “all right” not to be from here?

Just what I once asked Rector May!
And like me, too, in another way:
For he’s sure that peace will come to stay
Once the stupid War has gone away.

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Interview with Myself (Anno 1932)

(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German)

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In the talkative town where I made my debut
My parents were immigrants, through and through.
We had a church, a doctor or two,
And a loony bin with a lovely view.

My favorite word as a child was “NO.”
If I made Mother happy, it didn’t show.
And thinking back to that long-ago
I wouldn’t wish my own child so.

The Great War found me under the sway
Of the parish school and Rector May,
And thinking that peace would come to stay
If only the War would go away.

Well, I entered the academic race
And the teachers were pleased at my rapid pace –
Despite my having not a trace
Of Nordic hair or an Aryan face –

At graduation, Teacher said
We were all so smart, and so well-bred,
We could go forth, work hard, get ahead.
But I took an office job instead.

I work eight hours of every day
And my duties are light, but so’s my pay;
And at night I while the time away
With poetry – to Dad’s dismay.

I love to brave the wilderness
Of maps, and wander, bodiless;
Still there are days, I must confess
I sometimes wish for happiness.

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That Old Feeling

(by Mascha Kaléko; translated from the German) 

Erich Heckel, Still Life with Wooden Figure, 1913The first time that I thought to die
–I still recall the scene–
I died with so much skill and grace
In Hamburg, just the perfect place,
And I was just eighteen.

And when I died the second time,
It filled my heart with woe
That I could leave you nothing more
Than just my heart, laid at your door,
And footprints, red in snow.

And when I died the third time,
I hardly felt the pain;
Familiar as my toast and tea,
Like an old shoe, is death to me.
I needn’t die again.

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what / should I fly

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what

should I fly
unto
my senses

delight
with
crowns and rich apparel

dance and then depart

show
what magic can perform

and do
a thousand
deeds?

I
shall

Faustus 47 unredacted_RedactedFaustus 47 unredacted
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