Saturday, December 8, 2012

Haiku by Basho - Translated by Robert Hass

Matsuo Basho composing a Haiku
Robert Hass

A ball of snow

you make the fire
and I’ll show you something wonderful:
a big ball of snow! 

A bee

A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

The old pond

The old pond--
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

A caterpillar

A caterpillar,
this deep in fall--
still not a butterfly.

A cool fall night

A cool fall night--
getting dinner, we peeled
eggplants, cucumbers.

A field of cotton

A field of cotton--
as if the moon
had flowered.

A monk sips morning tea

A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.

A snowy morning

A snowy morning--
by myself,
chewing on dried salmon.

Awake at night

Awake at night--
the sound of the water jar
cracking in the cold.

Blowing stones

Blowing stones
along the road on Mount Asama,
the autumn wind.

Cold night: the wild duck

Cold night: the wild duck,
sick, falls from the sky
and sleeps awhile.

First snow

First snow
on the half-finished bridge.

Coolness of the melons

Coolness of the melons
flecked with mud
in the morning dew.

How Admirable

How admirable!
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.


attached to nothing,
the sky lark singing.

Taking a nap

Taking a nap
feet planted
against a cool wall.

The dragonfly

The dragonfly
can’t quite land
on that blade of grass.

The oak tree

The oak tree
not interested
in cherry blossoms.

What fish feel

What fish feel,
birds feel, I don’t know—
the year ending.

When the winter chrysanthemums go

When the winter chrysanthemums go
there’s nothing to write about
but radishes.

Winter solitude

Winter solitude—
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.

First winter rain

First winter rain--
even the monkey
seems to want a raincoat.

Sick on a journey

Sick on a journey
my dreams wander
the withered fields.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Selected Poems of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore

Little Flute
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail
vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in
joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

Closed Path
I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my power,---that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted
and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.

Clouds and Waves
Mother, the folk who live up in the clouds call out to me-
"We play from the time we wake till the day ends.
We play with the golden dawn, we play with the silver moon."
I ask, "But how am I to get up to you ?"
They answer, "Come to the edge of the earth, lift up your
hands to the sky, and you will be taken up into the clouds."
"My mother is waiting for me at home, "I say, "How can I leave
her and come?"
Then they smile and float away.
But I know a nicer game than that, mother.
I shall be the cloud and you the moon.
I shall cover you with both my hands, and our house-top will
be the blue sky.
The folk who live in the waves call out to me-
"We sing from morning till night; on and on we travel and know
not where we pass."
I ask, "But how am I to join you?"
They tell me, "Come to the edge of the shore and stand with
your eyes tight shut, and you will be carried out upon the waves."
I say, "My mother always wants me at home in the everything-
how can I leave her and go?"
They smile, dance and pass by.
But I know a better game than that.
I will be the waves and you will be a strange shore.
I shall roll on and on and on, and break upon your lap with
And no one in the world will know where we both are.

Keep Me Fully Glad
Keep me fully glad with nothing. Only take my hand in your hand.
In the gloom of the deepening night take up my heart and play with it as you list. Bind me close to you with nothing.
I will spread myself out at your feet and lie still. Under this clouded sky I will meet silence with silence. I will become one with the night clasping the earth in my breast.
Make my life glad with nothing.
The rains sweep the sky from end to end. Jasmines in the wet untamable wind revel in their own perfume. The cloud-hidden stars thrill in secret. Let me fill to the full my heart with nothing but my own depth of joy.

Free Love
By all means they try to hold me secure who love me in this world.
But it is otherwise with thy love which is greater than theirs,
and thou keepest me free.

Lest I forget them they never venture to leave me alone.
But day passes by after day and thou art not seen.

If I call not thee in my prayers, if I keep not thee in my heart,
thy love for me still waits for my love.

Lost Time
On many an idle day have I grieved over lost time.
But it is never lost, my lord.
Thou hast taken every moment of my life in thine own hands.

Hidden in the heart of things thou art nourishing seeds into sprouts,
buds into blossoms, and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.

I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed
and imagined all work had ceased.
In the morning I woke up
and found my garden full with wonders of flowers.

On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying,
and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.

Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my
dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind.

That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it seemed to
me that is was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.

I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this
perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.

Lover's Gifts IV: She Is Near to My Heart
She is near to my heart as the meadow-flower to the earth; she is
sweet to me as sleep is to tired limbs. My love for her is my life
flowing in its fullness, like a river in autumn flood, running with
serene abandonment. My songs are one with my love, like the murmur
of a stream, that sings with all its waves and current.

Lover's Gifts VIII: There Is Room for You
There is room for you. You are alone with your few sheaves of rice.
My boat is crowded, it is heavily laden, but how can I turn you
away? Your young body is slim and swaying; there is a twinkling
smile in the edge of your eyes, and your robe is coloured like the
rain cloud.
The travellers will land for different roads and homes. You
will sit for a while on the prow of my boat, and at the journey's
end none will keep you back.
Where do you go, and to what home, to garner your sheaves? I
will not question you, but when I fold my sails and moor my boat
I shall sit and wonder in the evening, -Where do you go, and to
what home, to garner your sheaves?

Lover's Gifts XL: A Message Came
A message came from my youth of vanished days, saying, " I wait for
you among the quivering of unborn May, where smiles ripen for tears
and hours ache with songs unsung."
It says, "Come to me across the worn-out track of age, through
the gates of death. For dreams fade, hopes fail, the fathered
fruits of the year decay, but I am the eternal truth, and you shall
meet me again and again in your voyage of life from shore to

Lover's Gifts XLIV: Where Is Heaven
Where is heaven? you ask me, my child,-the sages tell us it is
beyond the limits of birth and death, unswayed by the rhythm of day
and night; it is not of the earth.
But your poet knows that its eternal hunger is for time and
space, and it strives evermore to be born in the fruitful dust.
Heaven is fulfilled in your sweet body, my child, in your
palpitating heart.
The sea is beating its drums in joy, the flowers are a-tiptoe
to kiss you. For heaven is born in you, in the arms of the mother-

Lover's Gifts XXVIII: I Dreamt
I dreamt that she sat by my head, tenderly ruffling my hair with
her fingers, playing the melody of her touch. I looked at her face
and struggled with my tears, till the agony of unspoken words burst
my sleep like a bubble.
I sat up and saw the glow of the Milky Way above my window,
like a world of silence on fire, and I wondered if at this moment
she had a dream that rhymed with mine.

My Song
This song of mine will wind its music around you,
my child, like the fond arms of love.

The song of mine will touch your forehead
like a kiss of blessing.

When you are alone it will sit by your side and
whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd
it will fence you about with aloofness.

My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams,
it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.

It will be like the faithful star overhead
when dark night is over your road.

My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes,
and will carry your sight into the heart of things.

And when my voice is silenced in death,
my song will speak in your living heart.