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I feel that all the stars shine in me.

The world breaks into my life like a flood.

The flowers blossom in my body.

All the youthfulness of land and water smokes like an incense in my heart; and the breath of all things plays on my thoughts as on a flute.

II

When the world sleeps I come to your door.

The stars are silent, and I am afraid to sing.

I wait and watch, till your shadow passes by the balcony of night and I return with a full heart.

Then in the morning I sing by the roadside;

The flowers in the hedge give me answer and the morning air listens,

The travelers suddenly stop and look in my face, thinking I have called them by their names.

III

Keep me at your door ever attending to your wishes, and let me go about in your Kingdom accepting your call.

Let me not sink and disappear in the depth of langour.

Let not my life be worn out to tatters by penury of waste.

Let not those doubts encompass me,-the dust of distractions.

Let me not pursue many paths to gather many things.

Let me not bend my heart to the yoke of the many.

Let me hold my head high in the courage and pride of being your servant.

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The Jewel – James Wright

The Jewel

There is this cave
In the air behind my body
That nobody is going to touch:
A cloister, a silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind,
My bones turn to dark emeralds.
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Jaan Kaplinski – To write more

To write more. To speak more. To whom?
How? Why? What sense does it make? Soon
we may be forced into silence. Soon
we may be forced to speak more
and more loudly. Who knows. But what
remains unspoken is always the most important:
this little man, this child, this
word, thought, and look of a child
deep inside you, you must guard,
you must defend and cherish.
And with it you will learn to speak,
and with it you will learn to be silent
if you must,
.
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(From “The Wandering Border” – translated from Estonian by the author
with Sam Hamill and Riina Tamm)

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God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.
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(translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)
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The crop is reaped and mice are coming in from the fields
to the farmhouse, and the owls follow them in.
Sometimes in the evening they call one another
from one corner of the garden to another. I found
a butterfly with worn-out wings in the grass – it could not
fly any more. One night while I went out to pee,
I saw the Milky way for the first time. A nutcracker
shrieked in the hazel hedge – the nuts are ripe.
The wasps abandoned their nests. They are flying
and feasting, slipping into beehives,
into jam cans and overripe apples;
and grasshoppers are sawing in the grass and on the trees
more and more loudly, and dolorous
as the summer’s last string knowing it will break.
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Victor Jara’s Last Poem

This is the last poem of Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez, who was born on September 28, 1932 and murdered on September 16, 1973. Jara, a teacher, theatre director, poet, singer, songwriter and political activist was arrested after Pinochet’s US-Backed coup, in Chile. He was tortured, both his hands and ribs broken and shot 44 times. His body was dumped in the streets of Santiago. This is Jara’s last poem, written in a concentration camp, memorized, and smuggled out by other political prisoners:
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There are five thousand of us here
in this small part of the city.
We are five thousand.
I wonder how many we are in all
in the cities and in the whole country?
Here alone
are ten thousand hands which plant seeds
and make the factories run.
How much humanity
exposed to hunger, cold, panic, pain,
moral pressure, terror and insanity?
Six of us were lost
as if into starry space.
One dead, another beaten as I could never have believed
a human being could be beaten.
The other four wanted to end their terror
one jumping into nothingness,
another beating his head against a wall,
but all with the fixed stare of death.
What horror the face of fascism creates!
They carry out their plans with knife-like precision.
Nothing matters to them.
To them, blood equals medals,
slaughter is an act of heroism.
Oh God, is this the world that you created,
for this your seven days of wonder and work?
Within these four walls only a number exists
which does not progress,
which slowly will wish more and more for death.
But suddenly my conscience awakes
and I see that this tide has no heartbeat,
only the pulse of machines
and the military showing their midwives’ faces
full of sweetness.
Let Mexico, Cuba and the world
cry out against this atrocity!
We are ten thousand hands
which can produce nothing.
How many of us in the whole country?
The blood of our President, our compañero,
will strike with more strength than bombs and machine guns!
So will our fist strike again!

How hard it is to sing
when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
horror which I am dying.
To see myself among so much
and so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.
What I see, I have never seen
What I have felt and what I feel
Will give birth to the moment …

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September 1973

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W. H. Auden – Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
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Breughel’s Icarus

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