Nothing More? by Juan Ramon Jimenez

Only my face and the sky.
The only universe.
My face, alone, and the sky.

(Between them, the pure breeze,
a fond caress, the only hand
that brings so much plentifulness;
the breeze, always rising and falling.)

Above me, all that is life,
the entire dream within me,
brushing against my senses with its wings,
that he has brought into harmony.

Nothing more.
. . . . . . .Are you perhaps
the breeze that comes and goes
from the sky, love, to my face?

translated by Dennis Maloney & Clark Zlotchew

Light and Water by Juan Ramon Jimenez

The light above–golden,orange, green
among the vague clouds.

Ah, trees without leaves,
roots in water,
branches in light!

Underneath, the water–green, orange, golden
among the vague mist.

Among the vague mist, among the vague clouds,
light and water; what magic they vanish!

translated by Dennis Maloney

Why I Am Not A Painter by Frank O’Hara

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

For instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink, we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters. “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a galley
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

an old favorite by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

. .it was like this when
. . . . . . . . . . .we waltz into this place
a couple of Papish cats
. . . . . . . . .is doing an Aztec two-step
And I says
. . . . . .Dad let’s cut
but then this dame
. . . . . . . .comes up behind me see
. . . . . . . . . . . .and says
. . . . . . . .You and me could really exist
Wow I says
. . . . . .Only the next day
. . . . . . .she has bad teeth
. . . . . . . . . .and really hates
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .poetry

Po Chü-I on Chuang-tzü

Chuang-tzü levels all things
And reduces them to the same Monad.
But I say that even in their sameness
Difference may be found.
Although in following the promptings of their nature
They display the same tendency,
Yet it seems to me that in some ways
A phoenix is superior to a reptile!

translated by Arthur Waley

Po Chü-I on Lao-tzü

“Those who speak know nothing;
Those who know are silent.”
These words, as I am told,
Were spoken by Lao-tzü.
If we are to believe that Lao-tzü
Was himself one who knew,
How comes it that he wrote a book
of five thousand words?

translated by Arthur Waley

The Autumn Wind by Wu-ti

Autumn wind rises: white clouds fly.
Grass and trees wither: geese go south.
Orchids all in bloom: chrysanthemums smell sweet.
I think of my lovely lady: I can never forget.
Floating-pagoda boat crosses Fen River.
Across the mid-stream white waves rise;
Flute and drum keep time to sound of the rowers’ song;
Amidst revel and feasting, sad thoughts come;
Youth’s years are few! Age how sure!

translated by Arthur Waley

T’ao Ch’ien on his version of carpe diem

The Way’s been in ruin a thousand
years. People all hoard their hearts

away: so busy scrambling for esteemed
position, they’d never touch wine.

But whatever makes living precious
occurs in this one life, and this

life never lasts. It’s startling,
sudden as lightning. These hundred

years offer all abundance: Take it!
What more could you make of yourself?

translated by David Hinton

New Corn by T’ao Ch’ien

Swiftly the years, beyond recall.
Solemn the stillness of this fair morning.
I will clothe myself in spring-clothing
And visit the slopes of the Eastern Hill.
By the mountain-stream a mist hovers,
Hovers a moment, then scatters.
There comes a wind blowing from the south
That brushes the fields of new corn.

translated by Arthur Waley