Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (50): Ernst Herbeck, “Golden ABCs,” with translation from German by Gary Sullivan

Photo credit: © Privatstiftung–Künstler aus Gugging
Photo credit: © Privatstiftung–Künstler aus Gugging

Golden ABCs

The sequence A-Z
The alphabet in order
The lock
The book order B-Y
The interim result C

A
1. A beautiful A
as it once was
is—like— an apple star
in—Vien’na (AS N)
2. A beautiful film star
is a prayer
As gladly I’s once staged (in old time VIENNA)
and as beautiful; as it once waS.
3. A A A winter that is there.
Winter, summer, autumn and rain
P l e a s e God—bounty me the apple gain.
A A A spring that is THERE.

B
B B B to separate does hurt.
always tributary in the crossroads,
the wood falls in whining odes,
B B B to separate does hurt.
B B B to separate does hurt.
Wood disheartened in the holloway,
the wood lies at the crossroads,
B B B to separate does hurt.

Alberto Blanco: Three Theories from The Square Root of Heaven

Translated from Spanish by Gustavo V. Segade & Elise Miller

                                                        Imagination is more important
                                                        than knowledge.

Emilio Prados: Three Poems from The Enclosed Garden

Translation from Spanish by Donald Wellman

Emilio Prados, left, & Federico García Lorca, Madrid, 1936
Emilio Prados, left, & Federico García Lorca, Madrid, 1936

NEXT TO THE STREAM
Dawn

Dreaming cowl,
summer rain:
where goes
the cloud in which you were born?

Forest echo,
heart of wind:
where the voice
that abandoned you in the sky?

Murmur of water
among soft rushes:
where goes
the sparkle of your current?

Human body fleeting,
slender reed:
where did your shadow forget
its nudity?

Beauty, solitude,
silent contemplation:
where is the true
scent of your word?...

(The voice of God
resounds against the age...)

Michael Davidson: Five New Poems

FROG

I’m slouching past the point of no
interruptions the planet dissolving
from its patented heat death; I, too,
watch this cryogenic state thaw
under the stare of the hedge fund,
black car shows up
and gives them a check, I scream
and the sprinklers pulsate
in a thousand yards
because grass is not inevitable
but symptomatic, take my gene pool
all is smooth, no regrets,
and once this gazebo is swept
another will take its place or
no one will notice, a frog
appears on the fountain’s ledge

Aimé Césaire: From the original version (1939) of “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” (29-37)

Translation from French by Clayton Eshleman & A. James Arnold with a Note on the Original by the Translators

29
     At the end of first light, the wind of long ago—of betrayed trusts, of uncertain 
evasive duty and that other dawn in Europe—arises…

30
     To leave. My heart was humming with emphatic generosities. To leave… I would
arrive sleek and young in this land of mine and I would say to this land whose
loam is part of my flesh: “I have wandered for a long time and I am coming back
to the deserted hideousness of your sores.”
     I would come to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without
fear… And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.”
     And again I would say:
     “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice
the freedom of those who break down in the prison holes of despair.”
     And on the way I would say to myself:
     “And above all, my body as well as my soul beware of assuming the sterile
attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a
proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”
     And behold here I am come home!