Chorus of the Birds, by Paul Muldoon

Leaning in, by Rachel Hadas

Translated to Greek by George Chaldezos   Students all too commonly misconstrue the poem in which Sappho calls that man equal to a god who, opposite you, leans in and      whispers, etcetera,   tending to assume it’s about two people: speaker/loved one? Beloved and man near her, bending close to her, whom the poet hears as,      heads close together,   they laugh softly? Wait: that makes three. Sweat’s… Read more

Three poems by Vassilis Vassilikos

Translated by G Chaldezos & N Fielding I CHILDHOOD MEMORY Mattresses to mend! Mattresses to mend! Bow on his back, he roamed the streets. Suyulu, Five-Hundreds, Ay-Yanni.* Cheerfully he looked at me, a little lad looking at him, an archery victor at an ancient Olympic He sat on the concrete of our pre-war yard, face deeply lined by Acronauplia.** My mother would bring out comfortable mattresses and he, with his… Read more

Temporary like Achilles #2 and Kerouacts 1-6, by Thomas Palaima

Temporary Like Achilles #2 (for Leon Golden) Inspired by Achilles’ own words Iliad 1.149–171, 1.365–392, 9.308–429 'Rage,' Homer sings. 'Sing the rage of Achilles.' Twenty-three raids, twenty-three sieges of cities, all taken, feeding soldiers and the pride-lust of commanders. A true shepherd of the forces. Unique in speed afoot, strategic brilliance, endurance and making men endure and save themselves from themselves. Noble, caring even of spear captives. Briseis loved him.… Read more

“We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis,” by Osip Mandelshtam, translated by Carol Rumens

We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis Whose ruling deity is Proserpina. We swallow deadly air with every breath, And every hour becomes a year of death. Goddess of oceans, terrible Afina, Resign your helmet’s stone magnificence. We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis Which is not ruled by you, but Proserpina. From Carol Rumens, The Greening of the Snow Beach,  Bloodaxe, 1988. The Russian National Library, crowned with a statue of Athena. Saint… Read more

Insomnia, Homer, taut sails, by Osip Mandelshtam

Translated by Philip Nikolayev   Insomnia, Homer, taut sails: my lips have lisped Down to the middle the detailed list of ships, That long brood and angular train of cranes That rose above Hellas once on wings of waves. A wedge of cranes into far foreign lands – Divine white froth forming upon kings’ heads – Where have you hoist sail to? If it were not for Helen What would… Read more

Three poems by Manuela Pellegrino

2020.04.11 | Introduction by Keith DeStone δέδυκε μὲν ἁ σελάννα . . . μέσαι δὲ νύκτες. The moon has gone down . . . it is the middle of the night. Only a young moon could have set so early, early enough that the middle of the night should be, as it was for Sappho in this famous poem, moonless. But what if the moon were a little older, and… Read more

ballō: two poems of Reginald Gibbons

Because of Aphrodite   ~ from Liddell-Scott-Jones, βάλλω (ballō)   The force with which something can be thrown, the release, the sweep of arm and wrist—a javelin in games, a heavy spear in combat, or battering blows of winds, and these gusts, too: rain, desire, wildfire’s roaring, fear, and fast-falling stone- cold night in lands of bone- hard darkness and screaming storm blasts that freeze the blood.   But in… Read more

The Epic Cycle, by Lanah Koelle

Rage fuels the taut tendons Pulsing contempt As he slays each pathetic competitor. Past the dragging herd— Ankles streaked with oil, raw knees, Thighs like giant oars spearing the air— He sails forth A body cultivated and primed. He rejects all costumes, every gear, the very idea of brakes. In his arms, unrealized potential Knuckles at ease, grazing the bars. Watching the speeding silhouette I know, He would rather die… Read more

Cypresses: Three poems by Carol Rumens

Cypresses for Greg Nagy   Slim shadows, ragged, slightly deformed, not tall, they were green young athletes once, who, lacking physique and horse-sense, killed themselves when they jumped on the turn in the chariot-race. And now they wait for the ferry, puzzling where between life and death they are, almost persuaded they’ve hit the ground running.     Anisychia   Death’s little wild friend, chattering Anisychia, already my courier, pushing… Read more

I am telling you with utter openness, by Osip Mandelshtam

  Ma voix aigre et fausse… P. Verlaine I’m telling you with utter Openness: All’s sheer fancy, sherry-frenzy, Dearest. Where earlier to a Hellene Beauty shone, There dark holes exposed to me A deep shame. Ancient Greeks they once filched Helen over the sea. On the lips with salty foam they stroke me. And the emptiness will dab me On the lips, The penury will give me the finger Austerеly.… Read more

Mandelshtam’s Greek Bees: Five poems by Reginald Gibbons

We present here five poems by Reginald Gibbons from his cycle “Dark Honey” (Last Lake, 2016), engaging in conversation with the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam. The final poem of the cycle, “For your sweet joy, take,” is a close rendering of a poem by Mandelshtam, in which the poet gives to his love a necklace of dead bees, who turned honey into sun. “Mandelshtam’s Greek bees” reflects on the same… Read more

Psyche-Life: Two poems by Carol Rumens

‘When Psyche-life follows Persephone…’   When, through translucent forest, Psyche-life follows Persephone down into the dark, a sightless swallow flings itself in her path with angry tenderness, and a twig in leaf.   The shades rush round to greet the visitor. They cry their miseries to a new-found friend and wring their feeble hands in bewilderment and timid longing, stretching out to her.   One offers her a mirror, one,… Read more

Divining Greek

By way of introduction into the subject of Mandelshtam’s connection with ancient Greece, we publish here an excerpt from the memoirs of Konstantin Mochulsky, Mandelshtam’s Greek tutor (The Crisis of Imagination: Articles, Essays, Portraits). “In 1912 Osip Emilievich began his studies at the Department of Philology of the Petersburg University. He needed to pass a Greek exam, and I offered him my help. He would come to lessons monstrously late,… Read more

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