Tuesday, May 11, 2010

from Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood

strange is the world
why should men receive life in this world?
men’s lives are as meaningless
as the lives of insects
the terrible folly
of such suffering
a man lives but as briefly as a flower
destined all too soon
to decay into the stink of flesh
humanity strives all its days
to sear its own flesh
in the flames of base desire
exposing itself to fate’s Five Calamities
Heaping karma upon karma

all that awaits men
at the end of his travails
is the stench of rotting flesh
that will yet blossom into flower
its foul odor rendered into sweet perfume
oh, fascinating the life of man
oh, fascinating

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wild Things in Captivity by D.H. Lawrence

Wild things in captivity
while they keep their own wild purity
won't breed, they mope, they die.

All men are in captivity,
active with captive activity,
and the best won't breed, though they don't know why.

The great cage of our domesticity
kills sex in a man, the simplicity
of desire is distorted and twisted awry.

And so, with bitter perversity,
gritting against the great adversity,
they young ones copulate, hate it, and want to cry.

Sex is a state of grace.
In a cage it can't take place.
Break the cage then, start in and try.

To Althea, from Prison by Richard Lovelace (1641)

WHEN Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair 5
And fetter'd to her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames, 10
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free—
Fishes that tipple in the deep 15
Know no such liberty.

When, like committed linnets, I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King; 20
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlargèd winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make, 25
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free, 30
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Prison Poems from Ho Chi Minh

Translations by Kenneth Rexroth.


New books, old books,
the leaves all piled together.

A paper blanket
is better than no blanket.

You who sleep like princes,
sheltered from the cold,

Do you know how many men in prison
cannot sleep all night?


The morning sun
shines over the prison wall,

And drives away the shadows
and miasma of hopelessness.

A life-giving breeze
blows across the earth.

A hundred imprisoned faces
smile once more.