from Dreaming of Li Po, Two Poems by Tu Fu: Poem 2

Leonard Durso

Drifting clouds pass by all day long;
The wanderer is long in getting here.
Three nights now you’ve entered my dreams–
Which shows how good a friend you are.
But your leave-takings are hurried,
Bitterly you say, it’s not easy to come;
The river’s waters are wind-blown and choppy,
And you’re afraid to lose your oars.
Outside the door, you scratch your white head,
As if a lifetime’s ambition were forfeit.
Officials teem in the capital city,
Yet you alone are wretched.
Who says the net is wide,
When it tangles such a man in his old age?
An imperishable fame of a thousand years
Is but a paltry, after-life affair.

translated by Eugene Eoyang

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from Dreaming of Li Po, Two Poems by Tu Fu: Poem 1

Leonard Durso

Parted by death, we swallow remorse;
Apart in life, we always suffer.
South of the river, miasmal place,
From the banished exile, not a word!
Old friend, you appeared in a dream,
It shows you have been long in my thoughts.
Perhaps it wasn’t your living soul:
The way’s too far, it couldn’t be done.
Your spirit came: and the maples were green:
Your spirit left: the mountain pass darkened.
Friend, now that you’re ensnared down there,
How did you manage to wing away?
Moonlight shines full on the rafters,
Yet I wonder if it isn’t your reflection.
The waters are deep, the waves expansive:
Don’t let the water-dragon get you!

translated by Eugene Eoyang

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these dreams

Leonard Durso

they just won’t stop
I wake up exhausted
at all hours
when sleep should be a priority
but these dreams don’t listen
causing associations
dreaming creates
in these movies
in my head
people come go
time shifts now then
and you a star
in my sleep
in my brain
as I play a supporting part
to you in dreams
I wish would be
reality

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A Beirut Story by Orhan Kemal

In Beirut
At “New Istanbul Restaurant”
Washing the dishes
I am eighteen years old,
My hair is combed and shiny,
White Eleni who works at the lithography,
On my mind.
Eleni,
What if she sees me washing the dishes?

Thinking;
“Should I run away?”
To Eleni for instance,
“Let’s run away together!”
I would tell her,
And hold her arm,
Drag her with me;
From the Beirut Port,
We would get on the ferry
With three chimneys.

But,
In the evening,
My father, holding his beating heart
With his round fingers:
-My God! Where is he?
He would say.
While waiting in front of the Jewish owner’s shop
My mother would remember in panic:
“Hasan, the son of the herbalist,
had left one morning like this,
and did not return to his home, either!”
Days would pass.
Every evening,
With two loaves of bread and with his loving eyes,
Their son would not appear
In front of their knitted fabric door,
In the ruined walls of their garden.

What a tough thing to be in love.
What you plan at home,
Does not go with
The market!
Eleni is beautiful,
Roads are flawless,
The ferry is huge,
But,
They are waiting for loaves of bread in the evening!

Translated by Nejla Karabulut