I'll come to you at midnight with the moon.
By missing you I will find my way.
And though I haven't told you that I'll come
You'll still be there to open up the gate
Despite the dark, you won't ask me who I am.
But you'll touch my hand and know at once.
In the silence I will not say a thing
With rustling words - yet you'll answer back..
Then you'll kiss my pale forehead silently.
And though I won't say what troubles me
You will cradle my head upon your lap
And close my eyes in eternal dream.
Translated by Peter Jukes (with help from Edyta Zalewska) from the polish of Leopold Staff
I know the force of words, their urgent calling,
not just words that draw polite applause
but words that even the dead find disturbing
break through their graves and walk abroad.
Though censors edit or publishers ignore them
words knuckle down, buckle under, keep on, cut through,
hammering away till express trains come fawning
to lick poetry's rough hands, tame and meek.
I know the force of words, like a tissue flung
under dancers heels, they seem empty air,
but man is made of backbone, heart and tongue.
Version of a poem by Mayakovsky by Peter Jukes
With this wind our future comes: so let, oh let
It blow. All that compels us without say
And from which we'll be made to glow - all of it
If we can just keep still will find us and bring
The future that comes with this wind.
Translated by Peter Jukes from a poem by Rilke
I often have this strange and haunting dream
Of an unknown woman I love, who loves me back
And who is, at any moment, not quite the same
Nor entirely other, who loves and understands.
For only she can understand my heart,
Only she alone - oh my troubles disappear,
And the beads of sweat on my pale forehead
Only she alone replenishes with her tears.
Is she brunette, blonde or redhead? I don't know.
Her name? All I know is that it's soft and clear
Like those of loved ones who have long since gone.
Her gaze is like the gaze of a statue's head.
And in her tone - distant, calm, and sad - you can hear
The sound of beloved voices that are dead.
Translated by Peter Jukes from Paul Verlaine's Mon Reve Familier
The sky puts on the dark blue gown
held up for it by the avenue of limes;
you watch: the landscape divides
one half heavenward, the other half down;
leaving you distinct from either side:
not like the houses, motionless and dark,
nor reaching for infinity like the part
that becomes a star each night and climbs
leaving you to realise in the quiet
how vast is your life is and alone,
how both determined and definite
your heart is at once both star and stone.
Translated by Peter Jukes from 'Abend' by Rainer Maria Rilke
It's always dear to me, this lonely hill.
This hedgerow that happens to obscure
The whole vista of the far horizon;
Sitting here, observing - through the endless
Spaces beyond - and the unnatural
Quiet and stillness all around,
I lose myself in my thoughts, and this heart
Misses a beat. A breeze ruffles
The branches. When I hear it and compare
The lonely voice of the leaves to the vast
Cacophony of silence without, I remember
The eternal, the dead seasons, the living
Moments and the murmurs they make, until
My thoughts are drowned out by infinity:
And how sweet it is to be shipwrecked like this.
Translated from the Italian of Giacoma Leopardi by Peter Jukes
is a suspension
and every star
is a suspension
and every breath
Translated by Peter Jukes from Cada Cancion by Gabriel Garcia Lorca
Worlds fly by. Years pass. The great hole
Of the universe stares back blankly at us
While you, my shattered senseless soul
Harp on and on about happiness.
Happiness? What's that? Shadows of dusk
On dank grass in the thick of the wood.
Pleasure pickled in the putrid sweetness
Of wine, desire, and all the juices of the blood
Happiness? What is it? A moment's relief.
A brief spell of unconsciousness.
Then you're up and before you know it, off
on this senseless hurling whirligig.
A sigh. A respite. An instant suffice
to get back your breath, just enough
before the wheel turns, lurching to the side
on another plane, humming like a top.
And gripping for our lives to the steely wires,
deafened by a roar that never lets
we imagine in the blurs across our eyes
times and spaces, causes and effects
When will it stop? How can we stand
this reeling meaningless parade?
The world revolts us! Give me your hand
Brother, friend. Let's lose ourselves again.
Version by Peter Jukes of a poem by Alexander Blok
Lord, it is time. The summer is overcooked.
Time to wrap up the sundials in shadows,
and over the stubble, let the wind loose.
Force the fruits to fatten on the vine,
a few more days of voluptuary ease,
fill them to the limit, and then squeeze
their last sweet moments into heavy wine.
Who hasn't a home now will never have one.
Who is alone now will be so forever
and sit, and read, and compose long letters
and loiter the avenues, up and down
like dry autumn leaves, and never settle.
Peter Jukes: a version of Herbsttag by Rilke