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Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Urdu Poetry: English Translations



You will never comprehend me:
I pour out my feelings; you only read the words!
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Tears are colorless―thank God!―
otherwise my pillow might betray my heart.
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Near Sainthood
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

On the subject of mystic philosophy, Ghalib,
your words might have struck us as deeply profound ...
Hell, we might have pronounced you a saint,
if only we hadn't found
you drunk
as a skunk!

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



Every Once in a While
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Every once in a while,
immersed in these muggy nights
when all earth’s voices seem to have fallen
into the bruised-purple silence of half-sleep,
I awaken from a wonderful dream
to see through the veil that drifts between us
that you too are companionless and wide awake.



First Rendezvous
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This story of the earth
is as old as the universe,
as old as the birth
of the first day and night.

This story of the sky
is included in the words we casually uttered,
you and I,
and yet it remains incomplete, till the end of sight.

This earth and all the scenes it contains
remain witnesses to the moment
when you first held my hand
as we watched the world unfolding, together.

This world
became the focus
for the first rendezvous
between us.



Impossible and Improbable Visions
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eyes interpret visions,
rainbow auras waver;
similar scenes appear
different to individual eyes,
as innumerable oases
coexist in one desert
or a single thought acquires
countless shapes.



I Have to Find My Lost Star
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Searching the emptiest of skies
overflowing with innumerable stars,
I have to find the one
that belongs
to me.

...

Gazing at galaxies beyond galaxies,
all glorious with evolving wonder,
I ponder her name,
finding no sign to remember.

...

Lost things, they say,
are sometimes found
in the same accumulations of dust
where they once vanished.

I have to find the lost star
that belongs to me.



Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.

My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.

There are more English translations of poems by Allama Iqbal later on this page.



Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart―
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

There are more English translations of poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz later on this page.



Intimacy
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I held the Sun, Stars and Moon at a distance
till the time your hands touched mine.
Now I am not a feather to be easily detached:
instruct the hurricanes and tornados to observe their limits!

There are more English translations of poems by Rahat Indori later on this page.



Strange Currents
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O Khusrow, the river of love
creates strange currents—
the one who would surface invariably drowns,
while the one who submerges, survives.

There are more English translations of poems by Amir Khusrow later on this page.



The Eager Traveler
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Even in the torture chamber, I was the lucky one;
when each lottery was over, unaccountably I had won.

And even the mightiest rivers found accessible refuge in me;
though I was called an arid desert, I turned out to be the sea.

And how sweetly I remember you—oh, my wild, delectable love!—
as the purest white blossoms bloom, on talented branches above.

And while I’m half-convinced that folks adore me in this town,
still, all the hands I kissed held knives and tried to shake me down.

You lost the battle, my coward friend, my craven enemy,
when, to victimize my lonely soul, you sent a despoiling army.

Lost in the wastelands of vast love, I was an eager traveler,
like a breeze in search of your fragrance, a vagabond explorer.

There are more English translations of poems by Ahmad Faraz later on this page.



The Condition of My Heart
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is not necessary for anyone else to get excited:
The condition of my heart is not the condition of hers.
But were we to receive any sort of good news, Munir,
How spectacular compared to earth's mundane sunsets!

There are more English translations of poems by Munir Niazi later on this page.



Failures
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I was unable to relate
the state
of my heart to her,
while she failed to infer
the nuances
of my silences.



Apni Marzi se
by Nida Fazli Shayari
translated by Mandakini Bhattacherya and Michael R. Burch

This journey was not of my making;
As the winds blow, I’m blown along ...
Time and dust are my ancient companions;
Who knows where I’m bound or belong?

There are more English translations of poems by Nida Fazli later on this page.



My Apologies, Sona
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My apologies, Sona,
if traversing my verse's terrain
in these torrential rains
inconvenienced you.

The monsoons are unseasonal here.

My poems' pitfalls are sometimes sodden.
Water often overflows these ditches.
If you stumble and fall here, you run the risk
of spraining an ankle.

My apologies, however,
if you were inconvenienced
because my dismal verse lacks light,
or because my threshold's stones
interfered as you passed.

I have often cracked toenails against them!

As for the streetlamp at the intersection,
it remains unlit ... endlessly indecisive.

If you were inconvenienced,
you have my heartfelt apologies!

There are more English translations of poems by Gulzar later on this page.



Come As You Are
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come as you are, forget appearances!
Is your hair untamable, your part uneven, your bodice unfastened? Never mind.
Come as you are, forget appearances!

Skip with quicksilver steps across the grass.
If your feet glisten with dew, if your anklets slip, if your beaded necklace slides off? Never mind.
Skip with quicksilver steps across the grass.

Do you see the clouds enveloping the sky?
Flocks of cranes erupt from the riverbank, fitful gusts ruffle the fields, anxious cattle tremble in their stalls.
Do you see the clouds enveloping the sky?

You loiter in vain over your toilet lamp; it flickers and dies in the wind.
Who will care that your eyelids have not been painted with lamp-black, when your pupils are darker than thunderstorms?
You loiter in vain over your toilet lamp; it flickers and dies in the wind.

Come as you are, forget appearances!
If the wreath lies unwoven, who cares? If the bracelet is unfastened, let it fall. The sky grows dark; it is late.
Come as you are, forget appearances!



Unfit Gifts
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

At sunrise, I cast my nets into the sea,
dredging up the strangest and most beautiful objects from the depths ...
some radiant like smiles, some glittering like tears, others flushed like brides’ cheeks.
When I returned, staggering under their weight, my love was relaxing in her garden, idly tearing leaves from flowers.
Hesitant, I placed all I had produced at her feet, silently awaiting her verdict.
She glanced down disdainfully, then pouted: "What are these bizarre things? I have no use for them!"
I bowed my head, humiliated, and thought:
"Truly, I did not contend for them; I did not purchase them in the marketplace; they are unfit gifts for her!"
That night I flung them, one by one, into the street, like refuse.
The next morning travelers came, picked them up and carted them off to exotic countries.



The Seashore Gathering
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

On the seashores of endless worlds, earth's children converge.
The infinite sky is motionless, the restless waters boisterous.
On the seashores of endless worlds earth's children gather to dance with joyous cries and pirouettes.
They build sand castles and play with hollow shells.
They weave boats out of withered leaves and laughingly float them out over the vast deep.
Earth's children play gaily on the seashores of endless worlds.
They do not know, yet, how to cast nets or swim.
Divers fish for pearls and merchants sail their ships, while earth's children skip, gather pebbles and scatter them again.
They are unaware of hidden treasures, nor do they know how to cast nets, yet.
The sea surges with laughter, smiling palely on the seashore.
Death-dealing waves sing the children meaningless songs, like a mother lullabying her baby's cradle.
The sea plays with the children, smiling palely on the seashore.
On the seashores of endless worlds earth's children meet.
Tempests roam pathless skies, ships lie wrecked in uncharted waters, death wanders abroad, and still the children play.
On the seashores of endless worlds there is a great gathering of earth's children.



This Dog
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each morning this dog,
who has become quite attached to me,
sits silently at my feet
until, gently caressing his head,
I acknowledge his company.

This simple recognition gives my companion such joy
he shudders with sheer delight.

Among all languageless creatures
he alone has seen through man entire—
has seen beyond what is good or bad in him
to such a depth he can lay down his life
for the sake of love alone.

Now it is he who shows me the way
through this unfathomable world throbbing with life.

When I see his deep devotion,
his offer of his whole being,
I fail to comprehend ...

How, through sheer instinct,
has he discovered whatever it is that he knows?

With his anxious piteous looks
he cannot communicate his understanding
and yet somehow has succeeded in conveying to me
out of the entire creation
the true loveworthiness of man.



Being
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are so close to me
that no one else ever can be.

NOTE: There is a legend that the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib offered all his diwan (poetry collections) in exchange for this one sher (couplet) by Momin Khan Momin. Does the couplet mean "be as close" or "be, at all"? Does it mean "You are with me in a way that no one else can ever be?" Or does it mean that no one else can ever exist as truly as one's true love? Or does this sher contain an infinite number of elusive meanings, like love itself?



Being (II)
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You alone are with me when I am alone.
You are beside me when I am beside myself.
You are as close to me as everyone else is afar.
You are so close to me that no one else ever can be.



Perhaps
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The cohesiveness between us, you may remember or perhaps not.
Our solemn oaths of faithfulness, you may remember, or perhaps forgot.
If something happened that was not to your liking,
the shrinking away that produces silence, you may remember, or perhaps not.
Listen, the sagas of so many years, the promises you made amid time's onslaught,
which you now fail to mention, you may remember or perhaps not.
These new resentments, those often rehashed complaints,
these lighthearted and displeasing stories, you may remember, or perhaps forgot.
Some seasons ago we shared love and desire, we shared joy ...
That we once were dear friends, you may have perhaps forgot.
Now if we come together, by fate or by chance, to express old loyalties ...
Our every shared breath, all our sighs and regrets, you may remember, or perhaps not.



What Happened to Them?
by Nasir Kazmi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Those who came ashore, what happened to them?
Those who sailed away, what happened to them?

Those who were coming at dawn, when dawn never arrived ...
Those caravans en route, what happened to them?

Those I awaited each night on moonless paths,
Who were meant to light beacons, what happened to them?

Who are these strangers surrounding me now?
All my lost friends and allies, what happened to them?

Those who built these blazing buildings, what happened to them?
Those who were meant to uplift us, what happened to them?

NOTE: This poignant poem was written about the 1947 partition of India into two nations: India and Pakistan. I take the following poem to be about the aftermath of the division.



Climate Change
by Nasir Kazmi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The songs of our silenced lips are different.
The expressions of our regretful hearts are different.

In milder climes our grief was more tolerable,
But the burdens we bear now are different.

O, walkers of awareness's road, keep your watch!
The obstacles strewn on this stony path are different.

We neither fear separation, nor desire union;
The anxieties of my rebellious heart are different.

In the first leaf-fall only flowers fluttered from twigs;
This year the omens of autumn are different.

This world lacks the depth to understand my heartache;
Please endow me with melodies, for my cry is different!

One disconcerting glance bared my being;
Now in barren fields my visions are different.

No more troops, nor flags. Neither money, nor fame.
The marks of the monarchs on this land are different.

Men are not martyred for their beloveds these days.
The youths of my youth were so very different!



Nasir Kazmi Couplets

When I was a child learning to write
my first scribblings were your name.
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When my feet lost the path
where was your hand?
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Everything I found is yours;
everything I lost is also yours.
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Memory
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, as performed by Iqbal Bano
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In the wastelands of solitude, my love,
the echoes of your voice quiver,
the mirages of your lips waver.

In the deserts of alienation,
out of the expanses of distance and isolation's debris
the fragrant jasmines and roses of your presence delicately blossom.

Now from somewhere nearby,
the warmth of your breath rises,
smoldering forth an exotic perfume―gently, languorously.

Now far-off, across the distant horizon,
drop by shimmering drop,
fall the glistening dews of your beguiling glances.

With such tenderness and affection—oh my love!—
your memory has touched my heart's cheek so that it now seems
the sun of separation has set; the night of blessed union has arrived.



Speak!
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Speak, if your lips are free.
Speak, if your tongue is still your own.
While your body is still upright,
Speak if your life is still your own.



Tonight
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight! Days smoldering
with pain in the end produce only listless ashes ...
and who the hell knows what the future may bring?
Last night’s long lost, tomorrow's horizon’s a wavering mirage.
And how can we know if we’ll see another dawn?
Life is nothing, unless together we make it ring!
Tonight we are love gods! Sing!

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight!
Don’t harp constantly on human suffering!
Stop complaining; let Fate conduct her song!
Give no thought to the future, seize now, this precious thing!
Shed no more tears for temperate seasons departed!
All sighs of the brokenhearted soon weakly dissipate ... stop dithering!
Oh, do not strike the same flat chord again! Sing!



When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

So it was that autumn came to flay the trees,
to strip them ****,
to rudely abase their slender dark bodies.

Fall fell in vengeance on the dying leaves,
flung them down to the floor of the forest
where anyone could trample them to mush
undeterred by their sighs of protest.

The birds that herald spring
were exiled from their songs—
the notes ripped from their sweet throats,
they plummeted to the earth below, undone
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Please, gods of May, have mercy!
Bless these disintegrating corpses
with the passion of your resurrection;
allow their veins to pulse with blood again.

Let at least one tree remain green.
Let one bird sing.



Last Night (II)
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your lost memory returned ...
as spring steals silently into barren gardens,
as cool breezes stir desert sands,
as an ailing man suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

There are more English translations of poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz later on this page.



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Not the blossomings of songs nor the adornments of music:
I am the voice of my own heart breaking.

You toy with your long, dark curls
while I remain captive to my dark, pensive thoughts.

We congratulate ourselves that we two are different
but this weakness has burdened us both with inchoate grief.

Now you are here, and I find myself bowing—
as if sadness is a blessing, and longing a sacrament.

I am a fragment of sound rebounding;
you are the walls impounding my echoes.



The Mistake
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All your life, O Ghalib,
You kept repeating the same mistake:
Your face was *****
But you were obsessed with cleaning the mirror!



Inquiry
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The miracle of your absence
is that I found myself endlessly searching for you.



It's Only My Heart!
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s only my heart, not unfeeling stone,
so why be dismayed when it throbs with pain?
It was made to suffer ten thousand darts;
why let one more torment impede us?

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



Couplets
by Jaun Elia
loose translations by Michael R. Burch

I am strange—so strange
that I self-destructed and don't regret it.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The wound is deep—companions, friends—embrace me!
What, did you not even bother to stay?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My nature is so strange
that today I felt relieved when you didn't arrive.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Night and day I awaited myself;
now you return me to myself.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Greeting me this cordially,
have you so easily erased my memory?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your lips have provided thousands of answers;
so what is the point of complaining now?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps I haven't fallen in love with anyone,
but at least I convinced them!
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The city of mystics has become bizarre:
everyone is wary of majesty, have you heard?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did you just say "Love is eternal"?
Is this the end of us?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are drawing very close to me!
Have you decided to leave?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Intimacy
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I held the Sun, Stars and Moon at a distance
till the time your hands touched mine.
Now I am not a feather to be easily detached:
instruct the hurricanes and tornados to observe their limits!



The Mad Moon
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stars have a habit of showing off,
but the mad moon sojourns in darkness.



Body Language
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your body’s figures are written in cursive!
How will I read you? Hand me the book!



Insatiable
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This mighty ocean, so deep and vast!
If it sates my thirst, how long can it last?



Honor
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Achievements may fade but the name remains strong;
walls may buckle but the roof stays on.
On a pile of corpses a child stands alone
and declares that his family still lives on!



Dust in the Wind
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is how I introduce myself to questioners:
Pick up a handful of dust, then blow ...



Dissembler
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In your eyes this, in your heart that, on your lips something else?
If this is how you are, impress someone else!



Rumor (M)ill
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I heard rumors my health was bad; still
it was prying people who made me ill.



The Vortex
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am the river whose rapids form a vortex;
You were wise to avoid my banks.



Homebound
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If people fear what they meet at every turn,
why do they ever leave the house?



Becoming One
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have become you, as you have become me;
I am your body, you my Essence.
Now no one can ever say
that you are someone else,
or that I am anything less than your Presence!



I Am a Pagan
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am a pagan disciple of love: I need no creeds.
My every vein has become taut, like a tuned wire.
I do not need the Brahman's girdle.
Leave my bedside, ignorant physician!
The only cure for love is the sight of the patient's beloved:
there is no other medicine he needs!
If our boat lacks a pilot, let there be none:
we have god in our midst: we do not fear the sea!
The people say Khusrow worships idols:
True! True! But he does not need other people's approval;
he does not need the world's.

(My translation above was informed by a translation of Dr. Hadi Hasan.)



Amir Khusrow’s elegy for his mother
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wherever you shook the dust from your feet
is my relic of paradise!



Paradise
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If there is an earthly paradise,
It's here! It's here! It's here!



Mystery
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

She was a mystery:
Her lips were parched ...
but her eyes were two unfathomable oceans.



I continued delaying ...
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I continued delaying ...
the words I should speak
the promises I should keep
the one I should dial
despite her cruel denial

I continued delaying ...
the shoulder I must offer
the hand I must proffer
the untraveled lanes
we may not see again

I continued delaying ...
long strolls through the seasons
for my own selfish reasons
the remembrances of lovers
to erase thoughts of others

I continued delaying ...
to save someone dear
from eternities unclear
to make her aware
of our reality here

I continued delaying ...



Couplets
by Mir Taqi Mir
loose translations by Michael R. Burch

Sharpen the barbs of every thorn, O lunatic desert!
Perhaps another hobbler, limping by on blistered feet, follows me!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My life is a bubble,
this world an illusion.
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Selflessness has gotten me nowhere:
I neglected myself far too long.
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know now that I know nothing,
and it only took me a lifetime to learn!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love's just beginning, so why do you whine?
Why not wait and watch how things unwind!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Come!
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, let us construct night
over the monumental edifice of silence.
Come, let us clothe ourselves in the winding sheets of darkness,
where we'll ignite our bodies' incandescent wax.
As the midnight dew dances its delicate ballet,
let us not disclose the slightest whispers of our breath!
Lost in night's mists,
let us lie immersed in love's fragrance,
absorbing our bodies' musky aromas!
Let us rise like rustling spirits ...



Old Habits Die Hard
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The habit of breathing
is an odd tradition.
Why struggle so to keep on living?
The body shudders,
the eyes veil,
yet the feet somehow keep moving.
Why this journey, this restless, relentless flowing?
For how many weeks, months, years, centuries
shall we struggle to keep on living, keep on living?
Habits are such strange things, such hard things to break!



Inconclusive
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A body lies on a white bed—
dead, abandoned,
a forsaken corpse they forgot to bury.
They concluded its death was not their concern.
I hope they return and recognize me,
then bury me so I can breathe.



Wasted
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have noticed her forehead, her cheeks, her lips ...
In whose imagination I have lost everything.



Countless
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I recounted the world's countless griefs
by recounting your image countless times.



Do Not Ask
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do not ask, my love, for the love that we shared before:
You existed, I told myself, so existence shone.
For a moment the only light that I knew, alone,
was yours; worldly griefs remained dark, distant, afar.

Spring shone, as revealed in your face, but what did I know?
Beyond your bright eyes, what delights could the sad world hold?
Had I won you, cruel Fate would have ceded, no longer bold.
Yet all this was not to be, though I wished it so.

The world knows sorrows beyond love’s brief dreams betrayed,
and pleasures beyond all sweet, idle ideals of romance:
the dread dark spell of countless centuries and chance
is woven with silk and satin and gold brocade.

Bodies are sold everywhere for a pittance—it’s true!
Besmeared with dirt and bathed in bright oceans of blood,
Crawling from infested ovens, a gory cud.
My gaze returns to you: what else can I do?

Your beauty haunts me still, and will to the last.
But the world is burdened by sorrows beyond those of love,
By pleasures beyond romance.
So please do not demand a love that is over, and past.



O God!
by Qateel Shifai
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Torture my heart, O God!
If you so desire, leave me a madman, O God!

Have I asked for the moon and stars?
Enlighten my heart and give my eyes sight, O God!

We have all seen this disk called the sun,
Now give us a real dawn, O God!

Either relieve our pains here on this earth
Or make my heart granite, O God!



Hereafter
by Qateel Shifai
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since we met and parted, how can we sleep hereafter?
Lost in each others' remembrance, must we not weep hereafter?

Deluges of our tears will keep us awake all night:
Our eyelashes strung with strands of pearls, hereafter!

Thoughts of our separation will sear our grieving hearts
Unless we immerse them in the cooling moonlight, hereafter!

If the storm also deceives us, crying Qateel!,
We will scuttle our boats near forsaken shores, hereafter.



Picnic
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My friends laugh elsewhere on the beach
while I sit here, alone, counting the waves,
writing and rewriting your name in the sand ...



Confession
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your image overwhelmed my vision.
As the long nights passed, I became obsessed with your visage.
Then came the moment when I quietly placed my lips to your picture ...



Rain
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Why shiver alone in the rain, maiden?
Embrace the one in whose warming love your body and mind would be drenched!
There are no rains higher than the rains of Love,
after which the bright rainbows of separation will glow with the mysteries of hues.



My Body's Moods
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I long for the day when you'll be obsessed with me,
when, forgetting the world, you'll miss me with a passion
and stop complaining about my reticence!
Then I may forget all other transactions and liabilities
to realize my world in your arms,
letting my body's moods guide me.
In that moment beyond boundaries and limitations
as we defy the conventions of veil and turban,
let's try our luck and steal a taste of the forbidden fruit!



Moon
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All of us passengers,
we share the same fate.
And yet I'm alone here on earth,
and she alone there in the sky!



Vanity
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

His world is so simple, so very different from mine.
So distinct—his dreams and desires.
He speaks rarely.
This morning he wrote: "I saw some lovely flowers and thought of you."
Ha! I know my aging face is no orchid ...
but how I wish I could believe whatever he says, however momentarily!



Come
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, even with anguish, even to torture my heart;
Come, even if only to abandon me to torment again.

Come, if not for our past commerce,
Then to faithfully fulfill the ancient barbaric rituals.

Who else can recite the reasons for our separation?
Come, despite your reluctance, to continue the litanies, the ceremony.

Respect, even if only a little, the depth of my love for you;
Come, someday, to offer me consolation as well.

Too long you have deprived me of the pathos of longing;
Come again, my love, if only to make me weep.

Till now, my heart still suffers some slight expectation;
So come, ***** out even the last flickering torch of hope!



I Cannot Remember
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I once was a poet too (you gave life to my words), but now I cannot remember
Since I have forgotten you (my love!), my art too I cannot remember

Yesterday consulting my heart, I learned
that your hair, lips, mouth, I cannot remember

In the city of the intellect insanity is silence
But now your sweet, spontaneous voice, its fluidity, I cannot remember

Once I was unfamiliar with wrecking ***** and ruins
But now the cultivation of gardens, I cannot remember

Now everyone shops at the store selling arrows and quivers
But neglects his own body, the client he cannot remember

Since time has brought me to a desert of such arid forgetfulness
Even your name may perish; I cannot remember

In this narrow state of being, lacking a country,
even the abandonment of my fellow countrymen, I cannot remember



The Infidel
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ten thousand desires: each one worth dying for ...
So many fulfilled, and yet still I yearn for more!

Being in love, for me there was no difference between living and dying ...
and so I lived each dying breath watching you, my lovely Infidel, sighing                       afar.



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Life becomes even more complicated
when a man can’t think like a man ...

What irrationality makes me so dependent on her
that I rush off an hour early, then get annoyed when she's "late"?

My lover is so striking! She demands to be seen.
The mirror reflects only her image, yet still dazzles and confounds my eyes.

Love’s stings have left me the deep scar of happiness
while she hovers above me, illuminated.

She promised not to torment me, but only after I was mortally wounded.
How easily she “repents,” my lovely slayer!



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s time for the world to hear Ghalib again!
May these words and their shadows like doors remain open.

Tonight the watery mirror of stars appears
while night-blooming flowers gather where beauty rests.

She who knows my desire is speaking,
or at least her lips have recently moved me.

Why is grief the fundamental element of night
when blindness falls as the distant stars rise?

Tell me, how can I be happy, vast oceans from home
when mail from my beloved lies here, so recently opened?



Abstinence?
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let me get drunk in the mosque,
Or show me the place where God abstains!



Step Carefully!
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Step carefully Ghalib―this world is merciless!
Here people will "adore" you to win your respect ... or your downfall.



Bleedings
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love requires patience but lust is relentless;
what colors must my heart bleed before it expires?

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



No Explanation! (I)
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please don't ask me how deeply it hurt!
Her sun shone so bright, even the shadows were burning!



No Explanation! (II)
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please don't ask me how it happened!
She didn't bind me, nor did I free myself.



Alone
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Why are you sad that she goes on alone, Faraz?
After all, you said yourself that she was unique!



Separation
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Faraz, if it were easy to be apart,
would Angels have to separate body from soul?



Time
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What if my face has more wrinkles than yours?
I am merely well-worn by Time!



Miraji Epigrams

I'm obsessed with this thought:
does God possess mercy?
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, see this dance, the immaculate dance of the devadasi!
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Excerpts from “Going, Going ...”
by Miraji
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each unfolding vista,
each companion’s kindnesses,
every woman’s subtle sorceries,
everything that transiently lies within our power
quickly dissolves
and we are left with only a cupped flame, flickering ...
Should we call that “passion”?

The moon scrapes the horizon
and who can measure a star’s breadth?

The time allotted a life, if we calculate it,
is really only a fleeting breath ...



1.
Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
after my life has come and gone,
perhaps someone
hearing my voice drifting
on the breeze of some future spring
will chase after my songs
like dandelions.
—Miraji, translation by Michael R. Burch

2.
Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
after my life has come and gone,
perhaps someone
hearing my voice drifting
through some distant future spring
will pluck my songs
like dandelions.
—Miraji, translation by Michael R. Burch

3.
Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
when my life has come and gone,
and when I’m dead and done,
perhaps someone
hearing me sing
in a distant spring
will echo my songs
the whole world over.
—Miraji, translation by Michael R. Burch

If I understand things correctly, Miraji wrote the lines above after translating a verse by Sappho in which she said that her poems would be remembered in the future. I suspect both poets and both prophecies were correct!




Every Day and in Every Direction
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Everywhere and in every direction we see innumerable people:
each man a victim of his own loneliness, reticence and silences.
From dawn to dusk men carry enormous burdens:
all preparing graves for their soon-to-be corpses.
Each day a man lives, the same day he dies.
Each new day requires the same old patience.
In every direction there are roads for him to roam,
but in every direction, men victimize men.
Every day a man dies many deaths only to resurrect from his ashes.
Each new day presents new challenges.
Life's destiny is not fixed, but a series of journeys:
thus, till his last breath, a man remains restless.



Couplets
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It was my fate to entangle and sink myself
because I am a boat and my ocean lies within.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You were impossible to forget once you were gone:
hell, I remembered you most when I tried to forget you!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't squander these pearls:
such baubles may ornament sleepless nights!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The world is like a deck of cards on a gambling table:
some of us are bound to loose while others cash in.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

There is a proper protocol for everything in this world:
when visiting gardens never force butterflies to vacate their flowers!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I lack the courage to commit suicide,
I have elected to bother people with my life a bit longer.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Changing Seasons
by Noshi Gillani
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each changing season
reveals something
concealed by her fears:
an escape route from this island
illuminated by her tears.



Dust
by Bahadur Shah Zafar or Muztar Khairabadi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Unable to light anyone's eye
or to comfort anyone's heart ...
I am nothing but a handful of dust.



Piercings
by Firaq Gorakhpuri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

No one ever belonged to anyone else for a lifetime.
We cannot own another's soul.
The beauty we see and the love we feel are only illusions.
All my life I tried to save myself from the piercings of your eyes ...
But I failed and the daggers ripped right through me.



Salvation
Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Anxious and fatigued, I consider the salvation of death ...
But if there is no peace in the grave,
where can I go to be saved?



Child of the Century
by Abdellatif Laâbi (a Moroccan poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I’m a child of this dreary century, a child who never grew up.
Doubts that ignited my tongue singed my wings.
I learned to walk, then I unlearned progress.
I grew weary of oases and camels infatuated with ruins.
My head inclined East only to occupy the middle of the road
as I awaited the insane caravans.



Nostalgia
by Abdulla Pashew (a Kurdish poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How I desire the heavens!
Each solitary star lights the way to a tryst.

How I desire the sky!
Standing alone, remote, the sky is as vast as any ocean.

How I desire love's heavenly scent!
When each enticing blossom releases its essence.



Oblivion
by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (an African poet who writes in Arabic)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Discard your pen
before you start reading;
consider the ink,
how it encompasses bleeding.

Learn from the horizon
through eyes' narrowed slits
the limitations of vision
and hands' treacherous writs.

Do not blame me,
nor indeed anyone,
if you expire before
your reading is done.



In Medias Res
by Shaad Azimabadi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I heard the story of my life recounted,
I caught only the middle of the tale.
I remain unaware of the beginning or end.



Debt Relief
by Piyush Mishra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We save Sundays for our loved ones ...
all other days we slave to repay debts.



Reoccurrence
by Amrita Bharati (a Hindi poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It was a woman's heart speaking,
that had been speaking for eons ...

It was a woman's heart silenced,
that had been silenced for centuries ...

And between them loomed a mountain
that a man or a rat gnawed at, even in times of amity ...
gnawing at the screaming voice,
at the silent tongue,
from the primeval day.



Don't Approach Me
by Arif Farhad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't approach me here by the river of time
where I flop like a fish in a net!



Intoxicants
by Amrut Ghayal (a Gujarati poet)
translation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

O, my contrary mind!
You're such a fool, afraid to drink the fruit of the vine!
But show me anything universe-designed
that doesn't intoxicate, like wine.



I’m like a commodity being priced in the market-place:
every eye ogles me like a buyer’s.
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If you insist, I’ll continue playing my songs,
forever piping the flute of my heart.
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon has risen once again, yet you are not here.
My heart is a blazing pyre; what do I do?
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Drunk on Love
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Drunk on love, I made her my God.
She quickly informed me that God belongs to no man!

Exiles
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Often we have heard of Adam's banishment from Eden,
but with far greater humiliation, I abandon your garden.

To Whom Shall I Complain?
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To whom shall I complain when I am denied Good Fortune in acceptable measure?
Dementedly, I demanded Death, but was denied even that dubious pleasure!



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You should have stayed a little longer;
you left all alone, so why not linger?

We’ll meet again, you said, some day similar to this one,
as if such days can ever recur, not vanish!

You left our house as the moon abandons night's skies,
as the evening light abandons its earlier surmise.

You hated me: a wife abnormally distant, unknown;
you left me before your children were grown.

Only fools ask why old Ghalib still clings to breath
when his fate is to live desiring death.



How strange has life become:
Our evenings drag out, yet our years keep flashing by!
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Life Advice
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This passive nature will not allow you to survive;
If you want to live, raise a storm!



O, Colorful Rose!
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are not troubled with solving enigmas
O, beautiful Rose! nor do you have sublime feelings in your heart

Though you ornament the assembly, still you flower apart
(In life's assembly I am not permitted such comforts)

In my garden I am the complete orchestra of longing
While your life is devoid of love's passionate warmth

To pluck you from the branch is not my custom
(I am not blinded by mere appearances)

O, colorful rose this hand is not your tormentor
(I am no callous flower picker!)

I am no intern to analyze you with scientific eyes
Like a lover, I see you with nightingales' eyes

Despite your innumerable tongues, you have chosen silence
What secrets, O Rose, lie concealed in your *****?

Like me you're a leaf from the garden of Ñër
Far from the garden I am, far from the garden we both are

You are content, but I am a scattered fragrance
Pierced by the sword of love in my quest

This turmoil within me might be a means of fulfillment
This torment, a source of illumination

My frailty might be the beginning of strength
My envy might mirror the cup of divination

My constant vigil is a world-illuminating candle
And teaches this steed, the human intellect, to gallop



Bright Rose
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You cannot loosen the heart's knot;
perhaps you have no heart,
no share in the chaos

of this garden, where I yearn (for what?)
but harvest no roses.
Of what use to me is wisdom?

Having abandoned the garden,
you are at peace, while I remain anxious,
disconsolate in my terror.

Perhaps Jamshid's empty cup
foretold the future, but may wine
never satisfy my mouth,

till I find you in the mirror.

Jamshid's empty cup: Jamshid saw the reflection of future events in a wine cup.



Coal to Diamond
Allama Iqbal, after Nietzsche
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My flesh is so vile, I am less than dust
while your brilliance out-blazes the mirror's heart.
My darkness defiles the chafing-dish
before my cremation; a miner's boot
tramples my cranium; I'm covered with ashes.

Do you know my life's bleak essence?
Condensations of smoke, black clouds stillborn
from a single spark; while in feature and nature
starlike, your every facet's a splendor—
gleam of the King's crown, the scepter's jewel.

"Please, friend, be wise," the diamond replied,
"assume a gemlike dignity! Carbon must harden,
to fill one's ***** with radiance. Burn
because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be hard as stone, be diamond."



Firefly
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A candle among roses
In the evening garden
A shooting star
A flash of the moon's gown
A spark of the sun's hem
In syncopated eclipse

Emissary of day
In night's dark kingdom
Unseen at home
Lucid in exile
Opposite of the moth,
The firefly is light



The Age of Infancy
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The earth and sky remained unknown to me
The expanse of my mother's ***** was my only world

Her every movement communicated life's pleasures to me
Yet my own voice conveyed only meaningless words

During infancy's pain, if someone made me cry
The clank of the door chain would comfort me

Oh! How I stared at the moon those long, lonely hours,
Regarding its silent journey through broken clouds

I would ask repeatedly about its mountains and plains
Only to be surprised by some prudent lie

My eye was devoted to seeing, my lips to speech
My heart was inquisitiveness personified



Fiction
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Why didn't you make me immortal?"
Beauty asked God, perplexed.

God, vexed,
replied: "The world is a fiction fashioned from emptiness.

You were born bright, ever-changing:
true beauty is transient, estranging."

The moon picked up their discord
and beamed it on to the morning star

who informed dawn's clouds of her dark secret.
The dew overheard it all, formed a tear

and drenched the shivering rose petals
(now survived by the hardier nettles).


Destiny
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Isn't it futile to complain about God's will,
When you are your own destiny?



Excerpts from "The Tulip of Sinai"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1

My heart is bright, from burning inwardly.
My eyes weep blood, for all the world to see.
Am I the fool, or is it only he
Who calls all Love mere wild insanity!

3

Love grants the garden gentle gusts of May.
Love teaches the meadow flowers to be gay.
Love rockets bright rays deep into the sea
So that fishes' schools can find their way.

4

Love reckons the price of eagles cheap.
Love surrenders pheasants to the falcons’ steep
Murderous dives. Our offended hearts weep
till suddenly, out of ambush, Love leaps!

5

Love provides the tulip petals’ hue.
Love stirs the bitter spirit’s rue.
And, could you cleave this clod of carrion clay,
You would behold Love’s bloodshed too.

7

A spent scent in a garden: men expire.
I know not what I seek, no, nor require.
But whether I am satisfied, or starved,
Still here I burn: a martyr to desire.

13

How long, my heart, will you be like the moth,
Infatuated with a bit of cloth
Or winking flame? Just once, my foolish heart,
Be fully consumed in yourself, or else depart.



Excerpts from "Cordoba"
by Allama Iqbāl
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I

Linker of day and night,
Creator of events,
Foundation of life and death,
Two-toned silken thread,
Weaver of possibilities,
Suggester of future prospects ...

Linker of day and night,
sitting in judgment over us,
determining our worth
whenever we're lacking ...

Death, man's destiny.
Death, my destiny.
Is there any other reality?

The pulse of an age,
caught between day and night
as all human works vanish,
as black and white blur,
annihilation, our end

II

And yet in this form:
hints of Eternity,
of the splendor of Love ...

Love, life's foundation!
Death has no power over Love!

Love, the tide, the greater torrent,
Love, the nameless eons,
Love, Gabriel's breath,
Love, God's Prophet,
Love, the Word of God,
Love, the radiant rose,
Love, the transcendent wine,
Love, the royal goblet,
Love, life's music,
Love, life's passion,
Love, desire's inferno.

III

O, Mosque of Cordoba,
born of Love with no prior existence,
nor color nor mortar nor stone,
nor lyre nor song nor sermon ...

O, man's passionate creation!
As a drop of blood turns
cold stone into beating hearts,
so the heart fills with joy,
illumination and melody.

You brighten my heart;
my song wells up in my breast!
You lead a man's heart
Into God's loving presence!

But man's passionate love
for God is man's alone:
you ignite a man's desire,
although his sight is finite,
to seek the Infinite.

His heart's more expansive than the sky!
So what if God's desires rule?
He doesn't ordain man's pain!

I am an Oriental infidel:
witness the fervor
of my heart's prayers,
of these blessings on my lips.

Love, my lyre!
Love, my song!
My every bone singing
"God is God!"

IV

You witness man's worth.
Your glory reflects his.
Your stone columns soar.
Your palms freshen Syrian sands.
Sinai's rooftops gleam.
Gabriel enobles the minaret.

Muslims can never despair
standing in the place of the Prophets,
their horizons infinite
as the Tigris, Danube and Nile surge through their veins.

Cup-bearers and stallion-riders,
warriors of Love
armored with swords of Love, crying:
"There is no god but God!"

V

You reveal man's destiny:
his days' ardor,
his nights' dissolution,
his submission to God's will.

So it is with believers:
a man prospers according to his deeds.

He is both clay and fire,
Divinely seared within
and free to inhabit both worlds,
whether small in ambition
or with immense purposes.

Pure-hearted whether in war or peace.

God's compass eternally revolves
around a man's faith
because this world is illusion
and the man of faith is reason's horizon,
Love's firstfruits,
The fire of the ingathering,
Heaven's passion.



Keywords/Tags: Urdu, translation, love poetry, desire, passion, longing, romance, romantic, God, heaven, mrburdu
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How can my words describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The gentle morning breeze was your nativity,
the aromatic afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.

My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.



Coal to Diamond
Allama Iqbal, after Nietzsche
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My flesh is so vile, I am less than dust
while your brilliance out-blazes the mirror's heart.
My darkness defiles the chafing-dish
before my cremation; a miner's boot
tramples my cranium; I'm covered with ashes.

Do you know my existence's bleak essence?
Condensations of smoke, black clouds stillborn
from a single spark; while in feature and nature
starlike, your every facet's a splendor,
gleam of the King's crown, the scepter's jewel.

"Please, friend, be wise," the diamond replied,
"assume a gemlike dignity! Carbon must harden,
to fill one's ***** with radiance. Burn
because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be adamant as stone, be diamond."



O, Colorful Rose!
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are not troubled with solving enigmas
O, beautiful Rose! nor do you have sublime feelings in your heart

Though you ornament the assembly, still you flower apart
(In life's assembly I am not permitted such comforts)

In my garden I am the complete orchestra of longing
While your life is devoid of love's passionate warmth

To pluck you from the branch is not my custom
(I am not blinded by mere appearances)

O, colorful rose this hand is not your tormentor
(I am no callous flower picker!)

I am no intern to analyze you with scientific eyes
Like a lover, I see you with nightingales' eyes

Despite your innumerable tongues, you have chosen silence
What secrets, O Rose, lie concealed in your *****?

Like me you're a leaf from the garden of Ñër
Far from the garden I am, far from the garden we both are

You are content, but I am a scattered fragrance
Pierced by the sword of love in my quest

This turmoil within me might be a means of fulfillment
This torment, a source of illumination

My frailty might be the beginning of strength
My envy might mirror the cup of divination

My constant vigil is a world-illuminating candle
And teaches this steed, the human intellect, to gallop



Bright Rose
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You cannot loosen the heart's knot;
perhaps you have no heart,
no share in the chaos

of this garden, where I yearn (for what?)
but harvest no roses.
Of what use to me is wisdom?

Having abandoned the garden,
you are at peace, while I remain anxious,
disconsolate in my terror.

Perhaps Jamshid's empty cup
foretold the future, but may wine
never satisfy my mouth,

till I find you in the mirror.

Jamshid's empty cup: Jamshid saw the reflection of future events in a wine cup.



Firefly
by Allama Iqbāl
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A candle among roses
In the evening garden
A shooting star
A flash of the moon's gown
A spark of the sun's hem
In syncopated eclipse

Emissary of day
In night's dark kingdom
Unseen at home
Lucid in exile
Opposite of the moth
The firefly is light



The Age of Infancy
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The earth and sky remained unknown to me
The expanse of my mother's ***** was my only world

Her every movement communicated life's pleasures to me
Yet my own voice conveyed only meaningless words

During infancy's pain, if someone made me cry
The clank of the door-chain would comfort me

Oh! How I stared at the moon those long, lonely hours,
Regarding its silent journey through broken clouds

I would ask repeatedly about its mountains and its plains
Only to be surprised by some prudent lie

My eye was devoted to seeing, my lips to speech
My heart was inquisitiveness personified



Fiction
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Why didn't you make me immortal?"
Beauty asked God, perplexed.

God, vexed, replied: "The world is a fiction
fashioned from emptiness."

"You were born bright, ever-changing:
true beauty is transient, estranging."

The moon overheard their discord,
beamed it on to the morning star

who whispered dawn's clouds their dark secret
till the dew heard it all, formed a tear,

and drenched all the shivering rose petals
(now survived by the hardier nettles).



Excerpts from "The Tulip of Sinai"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

2

My heart is bright, from burning inwardly.
My eyes weep blood, for all the world to see.
Am I the fool, or is it only he
Who calls all Love mere wild insanity!

3

Love grants the gardens gentle gusts of May.
Love teaches the meadow flowers to be gay.
Love rockets bright rays deep into the sea
So that fishes' schools can find their way.

4

Love reckons the price of eagles cheap.
Love surrenders pheasants to the falcons’ steep
Murderous dives. Our offended hearts weep
till suddenly, out of ambush, Love leaps!

5

Love paints the tulip petals’ hue.
Love stirs the bitter spirit’s rue.
And, could you could cleave this clod of carrion clay,
You would behold Love’s bloodshed too.

7

A spent scent in a garden: men expire.
I know not what I seek, no, nor require.
But whether I am satisfied, or starved,
Still here I burn: a martyr to desire.

13

How long, my heart, will you be like the moth,
Infatuated with a bit of cloth
Or winking flame? Just once, my foolish heart,
Be fully consumed in yourself, or else depart.



Excerpts from "Cordoba"
by Allama Iqbāl
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I

Linker of day and night,
Creator of events,
Foundation of life and death,
Two-toned silken thread,
Weaver of possibilities,
Suggester of future prospects ...

Linker of day and night,
sitting in judgment over us,
determining our worth
whenever we're lacking ...

Death, man's destiny.
Death, my destiny.
Is there any other reality?

The pulse of an age,
caught between day and night
as all human works vanish,
as black and white blur,
annihilation, our end

II

And yet in this form:
hints of Eternity,
of the splendor of Love ...

Love, life's foundation!
Death has no power over Love!

Love, the tide, the greater torrent,
Love, the nameless eons,
Love, Gabriel's breath,
Love, God's Prophet,
Love, the Word of God,
Love, the radiant rose,
Love, the transcendent wine,
Love, the royal goblet,
Love, life's music,
Love, life's passion,
Love, desire's inferno.

III

O, Mosque of Cordoba,
born of Love with no prior existence,
nor color nor mortar nor stone,
nor lyre nor song nor sermon ...

O, man's passionate creation!
As a drop of blood turns
cold stone into beating hearts,
so the heart fills with joy,
illumination and melody.

You brighten my heart;
my song wells up in my breast!
You lead a man's heart
Into God's loving presence!

But man's passionate love
for God is man's alone:
you ignite a man's desire,
although his sight is finite,
to seek the Infinite.

His heart's more expansive than the sky!
So what if God's desires rule?
He doesn't ordain man's pain!

I am an Oriental infidel:
witness the fervor
of my heart's prayers,
of these blessings on my lips.

Love, my lyre!
Love, my song!
My every bone singing
"God is God!"

IV

You witness man's worth.
Your glory reflects his.
Your stone columns soar.
Your palms freshen Syrian sands.
Sinai's rooftops gleam.
Gabriel enobles the minaret.

Muslims can never despair
standing in the place of the Prophets,
their horizons infinite
as the Tigris, Danube and Nile surge through their veins.

Cup-bearers and stallion-riders,
warriors of Love
armored with swords of Love, crying:
"There is no god but God!"

V

You reveal man's destiny:
his days' ardor,
his nights' dissolution,
his submission to God's will.

So it is with believers:
a man prospers according to his deeds.

He is both clay and fire,
Divinely seared within
and free to inhabit both worlds,
whether small in ambition
or with immense purposes.

Pure-hearted whether in war or peace.

God's compass eternally revolves
around a man's faith
because this world is illusion
and the man of faith is reason's horizon,
Love's firstfruits,
The fire of the ingathering,
Heaven's passion.

Keywords/Tags: Allama Iqbal, translation, Urdu, Pakistan, Pakistani, love, rose, nightingale, garden, heart, beauty, diamond, coal, firefly, Cordoba, mosque, God, soul, wine, music, mrburdu
judy smith Apr 2015
The Pakistan Fashion Design Council in collaboration with Sunsilk presented the fourth and final day of the eighth PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week. Indeed the 8th PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week marked the twelfth fashion week platform initiated by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council [with eight weeks of prêt-à-porter and four of bridal fashion] and was a direct manifestation of the Council’s commitment to sustainability and discipline within the business of fashion and the facilitation of Pakistan’s retail industry. Indeed #PSFW15 endeavoured to define and present trends for 2015, focusing specifically on fashion for the regions’ long hot summer months. Day-4 featured High-Street Fashion shows by the House of Arsalan Iqbal, Erum Khan, Chinyere and Hassan Riaz and designer prêt-à-porter shows by Sana Safinaz, Republic by Omar Farooq, Syeda Amera, Huma & Amir Adnan, Sania Maskatiya and HSY.

Speaking about the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week platform, Chairperson of the PFDC, Sehyr Saigol said: “With the 12th iteration of our critically acclaimed fashion weeks, the PFDC is always working to streamline our prêt-à-porter platform to make the PSFW experience more beneficial for all stakeholders in terms of show experience, exposure and ultimately, retail value. To that end, each year we look inward to find the best possible formats and categories to benefit the very trade and business of fashion. In this vein, we introduced 3 separate categories for Luxury/Prêt, High Street and Textile at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, giving each entirely separate show space, times, audience exposure and viewing power. Our High Street fashion brands had been given a standalone show time on two separate days as early evening shows and Textile brands a separate dedicated day for Voile shows on Day 3 of PSFW 2015, a measured step to further highlight Pakistan’s textile prowess and high street fashion strength which are of significant importance to national and international fashion markets. As per past tradition, we continue to work closely with all our emerging designers and mainstream brands to help hone their collections for the runway through mentorship by senior PFDC Council members and with retail support through the PFDC’s own stores and network. We are grateful for the committed support of our sponsors and partners which provides us the stimulus to further enhance our fashion week platforms and put forth the best face of Pakistani fashion on a consistent basis.”

“The Sunsilk girl is an achiever, with an air of enthusiasm and positivity. Great hair can give her the extra dose of confidence so with Sunsilk by her side, she is empowered to take on life. Fashion is very close to this aspirational Pakistani girl making the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week a highly valued platform for us. We recognize PFDC’s efforts to promote the fashion industry and experienced and upcoming talent alike. Sunsilk has been a part of this fantastic journey for 6 consecutive years and continues to shape aspirations, taking contemporary fashion directly to the homes of consumers and encouraging them to script their own stories of success” said Asanga Ranasinghe, VP Home and Personal Care for Unilever Pakistan.

On the concluding day of #PSFW15, the Chairperson of the PFDC Mrs. Sehyr Saigol also made a special announcement on behalf of the Council and its Board Members, where she shared the Council’s plans to establish Pakistan’s first ever craft based Design District, a multi-purpose specialized facility that would assist in developing and enhancing the arts and crafts industries, which are an integral part of Pakistan’s rich cultural legacy. In addition to being a centre for skill improvement and capacity building, the Design District would also house a first of its kind Textile Museum.

The official spokesperson of the PFDC, Sara Shahid of Sublime by Sara also announced the official dates for the Council’s next fashion week, PFDC L’Oréal Paris Bridal Week 2015 which is scheduled to be held from 15th September to 17th September 2015.

Indeed the success of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week continued to prompt private sector associates to grow in their engagement of the platform to launch new marketing campaigns and promotional activities. To this end, the PFDC’s evolving partnership with Sunsilk grew exponentially this year whereby in addition to their title patronage; Sunsilk also took over the coveted PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week red carpet and the Green Room/Backstage, as sponsors. This extension of their support is indeed a manifestation of the brand’s belief in and commitment to the platform. Also in continuation of their support for the platform, Fed Ex – GSP Pakistan Gerry’s International returned to PSFW as the official logistics partner, offering the PFDC a special arrangement for international designer consignments.

PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 was styled by the creative teams at Nabila’s and NGENTS. Light design, set design, sound engineering, video packaging, choreography and show production from concept to construction was by HSY Events, front stage management by Maheen Kardar Ali, backstage management by Product 021, Sara Shahid of Sublime by Sara as the official spokesperson for the PFDC, logistics and operations by Eleventh Experience and photography by Faisal Farooqui and the team at Dragonfly, Hum TV/Hum Sitaray as the Official Media Partners, CityFM89 as the Official Radio Partners with all media management by Lotus Client Management & Public Relations.

High-Street Fashion Shows

The House of Arsalan Iqbal

The afternoon High-Street Fashion Shows on the final day of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 were opened by leading fashion brand The House of Arsalan Iqbal, who showcased a collection titled ‘Devolution Chic’. Inspired by street art across the world by various artists, European high-street trends and technique of quilting, Arsalan Iqbal garnered personal portfolios of graffitists from myriad urban cityscapes such as London, New York, Tokyo, Barcelona and Cape Town, juxtaposed with some unique in-house created patterns including those of Pac-man, calligraphic flourishes and aqua and tangerine bands and circlets. Based in chiffon, the ensembles were molded into voluminous structured silhouettes including draped tunics, edgy jumpsuits and wide palazzos dovetailed with off-white and ecru charmeuse silk jackets created with a revolutionary quilting process. Along with menswear pieces, the collection also included in-house footwear and jewellery made in collaboration with pioneering Karachi-based street artist SANKI.

Erum Khan

Designer Erum Khan followed next and made her PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week debut with ‘The Untainted Shine’. The collection took its inspiration from the sparkle of twinkling stars, a walk on pearl dew in the morning and the enchanted glow which is produced when “a magic wand” is waved around the body, making it glow in a pearlescent white and exhibiting a jewel themed lustre on the body. With neat and straight structured cuts, Erum had used fabrics such as organza combined with silk, 3D flowers, patch work and antique katdanna in a collection which was based in a white colour palette. Trends highlighted in the collection were high waist skirts to button up pants and sheer long dresses. Acclaimed Pakistani musician Goher Mumtaz and his wife Anam Ahmed walked the ramp as the designer’s celebrity showstoppers.

Chinyere

Following Erum Khan, fashion brand Chinyere showcased its Spring/Summer 2015 High-Street collection ‘Mizaj-e-Shahana’ at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015. An ode to the era of the Mughal royalty and their imperial aesthetic, the collection comprised of modern silhouettes and traditional embellishments with organza skirts paired with cropped tops, angarkha-peplum tops with embellished cigarette pants, sheer knee-length jackets paired with structured digital printed bustier-jumpsuits, diaphanous wrap-around boot-cuts and embellished boxy sleeves with soft A-line silhouettes. Chinyere also showcased ten menswear pieces comprising of waistcoats, jodhpurs, knee-length sherwanis paired with gossamer sheer kurtas. The colours used had been divided into a collection of distinctive Mughalesque pastels and jewel tones. The pastels included the classic marble ivory-on-ivory, the bold black, saffron, gold and ivory. The colour segments also included metallic gold and grey sections, with accents of bronze and black. The jewel tones included jade, emerald, ruby and sapphire.

Hassan Riaz

The concluding High-Street fashion show of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 was presented by Hassan Riaz who showcased his ‘Contained Shadows’ collection. Inspired by the diverse facets of the human soul that explore both the dark and light sides of human nature, taking into account yearnings, desires, and anxieties that make us distinctly human, Hassan had based the collection in summer twill, organza and summer denim in shades of blue and white with a gold accent to reflect upon his inspirations. ‘Contained Shadows’ made use of structured and drifting silhouettes, cage crinolines with corsets and bustiers with distinct trends featuring cropped tops, nautical accents, experiments with transparency and patchworks of metal mixed & matched with flowers.

Designer Showcases

Sana Safinaz

PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015’s evening [rêt shows on the fourth and final day was opened by premier designer label Sana Safinaz. Sana Safinaz’s PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week collection was inspired by monochromatic structured looks with pops of color. The collection was based in luxe fabrics such as kattan, silks, fine silk organza and dutches satin in a colour palette majorly based in black and white with strong vibrant pop infusions.
Key trends being highlighted were the oversized T, constructions-clean lines, simplicity of cuts and effective embellishments.

Republic by Omar Farooq

Following Sana Safinaz, acclaimed menswear brand Republic By Omar Farooqshowcased a collection titled ‘Que Sera, Sera!’ (whatever will be, will be!). Omar Farooq had used a variety of luxe fabrics such as suede, linen, chiffon, cotton, cotton silk and wool silk. A collection for all seasons, the ensembles built upon the label’s signature aesthetics while providing a new take on contemporary menswear. Acclaimed media personality Fawad Khan walked the ramp as the brand’s celebrity showstopper.

Syeda Amera

The third Prêt show of the final day of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 was presented by designer Syeda Amera who made her ramp debut with ‘The World of Sea’. Inspired by love for the enchanting underwater, the collection was based in premium quality organza, jersey, nets and silks with delicate cuts and embellishments consisting of beads, sequins and feathers to reflect the collection’s aquatic theme. ‘The World of Sea’ featured a palette of aqua marine, scupa blue, powder pink, grey blue, tequila sunrise yellow, orange and lagoon green with trends that employed skirt layering, frills and ruffles and flared pants.

Huma & Amir Adnan

Following Syeda Amera, Huma & Amir Adnan showcased a joint collection for the first time at a fashion exhibition. Both Huma and Amir feel that as a couple they share their lives and draw synergies and their collection ‘Symphony’ was an epitome of how two people can revolve around the same concept in harmony, while maintaining their individual distinction. Showcasing both menswear and women’s wear at PSFW 2015, Huma and Amir had used a mix of fabrics, textures and embellishments with a complex collection of weaves, prints and embroideries in silk, linen, cotton and microfiber. The color palette included midnight blue, emerald green, wet earth, aubergine, ivory, old paper, turmeric, leaf and magenta. Key trends highlighted in the collection were long shirts, double layered shirts, printed vests and jackets, textured pants, colored shoes for men and layers of multi-textured fabrics, tighter silhouette, vests and jackets for women.

Sania Maskatiya

Designer Sania Maskatiya showcased the penultimate Luxury/Prêt collection of the evening at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015. This S/S ’15, Sania Maskatiya took audiences on a fashion journey to ‘Paristan’ – a place of fairytale whimsy at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week. With a colour palette ranging from the softest shades of daybreak to the deepest hues of nightfall, ‘Paristan’ was a collection of playful, dreamlike prêt ensembles. Featuring luxury fabrics like silk, organza, charmeuse and crepe, the pieces followed the brand’s signature silhouettes, both structured and fluid. Beads and sequins embellished varied hemlines and multiple layering, all set against captivating scenes of mirth and magic. Motifs ranged from the sublime to nonsensical; friendly mice and naughty elves, clocks and teapots, flowering fields and star-filled skies, princesses and ponies.

HSY

Day-4’s finale was presented by acclaimed couturier HSY who showcased a collection titled ‘INK’; a collection inspired by Asia and specifically HSY’s journeys to The Land of the Rising Sun. INK represented the essence of Langkawi, Indonesia, Nagasaki, and Yunnan with natural and indigenous yarns, hand-woven to perfection. The collection featured the traditional dyeing techniques of Shibori from Nagasaki, Batik from Indonesia, and Gara from Sierra Leone infused with mackintosh, saffron, aubergine, eggshell, rosette, indigo and ochre. Created with the scorching sub continental summer in mind, INK channelled versatile hemlines to suit a diversity of younger, older, working men, women and homemakers alike.Read more here:www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-brisbane
Mystic904 Nov 2017
Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer sai pehlay
Khuda banday sai khud poochay bta teri raza kya hai

Raise yourself to such heights so before every destined act
God Himself asks His creation, what is it your desire

Kee Muhammad (S.A.W) sai wafa toonay to hum tairay hain
Ye jahan cheez hai kya loh o kalam tairay hain

If you are loyal to Muhammad (S.A.W) we are yours 
This universe is nothing, the Tablet and the Pen are yours

(Allama Iqbal)

May it be Saadi
Or may it be Sherazi
Mansur or Sachal Sarmast
May it be Rumi or Shams
Rabia Basri or Ganj Bakhsh
Bhatai or Baba Rehman
Ghani Khan or Allama Iqbal
All these God-gifted saints
went by giving the same message
Spreading the same thought
The one and unique
The message of the Truth
Under a million veils lie
Behold,
The one and only
Allah...
JAMIL HUSSAIN Oct 2016
''A few words of my soul to my heart''

O' Jamil what you seek is a sea of love and not tiny streams
Waves of which will carry you to mystic craved *dreams


You will need the light of Shams⒈, a heart of Rumi⒉ the great
And eyes of Iqbal⒊ to explore the love of divine that await

O' Jamil be prepared to sink deep below in waters of love
There is no reverting back thereafter to the world above

You will fade away as small particles in this sacred sea
Only then you will be intoxicated with essence of thee


Notes:-

⒈ Shams, Shams-e-Tabrizi or Shams Al-Din Mohammad was a Iranian Sufi, mystic born in the city of Tabriz in Iranian Azerbaijan.

⒉ Jalal Ad-Din Muḥammad Balkhi also known as Jalal Ad-Din Muḥammad Rumi and popularly known as Mowlana but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi, he was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.

⒊ Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a Persian and Urdu poet of Pakistan, philosopher and a politician who had great visions for humanity.

✒ ℐamil Hussain
Michael R Burch Nov 2020
My most popular poems on the Internet

A number of my poems and translations have gone viral, according to Google, and some have been copied onto hundreds to thousands of web pages. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting! The results below are the results returned by Google at the time I did the searches.



This original epigram returns more than 37,000 results:

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



This Sappho translation has more than 3,500 results:

Sappho, fragment 42
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eros harrows my heart:
wild winds whipping desolate mountains
uprooting oaks.



This Sappho translation has more than 1,700 results:

Sappho, fragment 155
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A short revealing frock?
It's just my luck
your lips were made to mock!



This Bertolt Brecht translation has more than 1,500 results:

The Burning of the Books
by Bertolt Brecht
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the Regime
commanded the unlawful books to be burned,
teams of dull oxen hauled huge cartloads to the bonfires.

Then a banished writer, one of the best,
scanning the list of excommunicated texts,
became enraged: he’d been excluded!

He rushed to his desk, full of contemptuous wrath,
to write fiery letters to the incompetents in power―
Burn me! he wrote with his blazing pen―
Haven’t I always reported the truth?
Now here you are, treating me like a liar!
Burn me!



This poem returns nearly 1,500 results for the first line:

Something
―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost―
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone―
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past―
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

NOTE: This is, I think, the first poem I wrote which didn’t rhyme, and the only one for quite some time. I consider one of the best of my early poems; it was written in my late teens.



This original poem has over 1,300 results:

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

This may be the first poem I wrote. I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, and it was a traumatic experience. But I can’t remember if I wrote the epigram then, or came up with it later. In any case, it was probably written between age 11 and 13, or thereabouts.



My translation of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” returns over 1,300 results. It’s a bit long for this page but can be found online with a Google search like: Michael R. Burch Robert Burns translations.



This Glaucus translation returns more than 1,000 results:

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
―Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus



This Yamaguchi Seishi translation returns over 1,000 results:

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This original poem has more than 1,000 results:

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her Tears...

Note: The phrase "frail envelope of flesh" was one of my first encounters with the power of poetry, although I read it in a superhero comic book as a young boy (I forget which one). More than thirty years later, the line kept popping into my head, so I wrote this poem. I have dedicated it to the mothers and children of Gaza and the Nakba. The word Nakba is Arabic for "Catastrophe."



This poem won a big Penguin Books (UK) Valentine poetry contest and returns over 800 results for the first line:

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!



This original epigram returns over 750 results:

Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It’s not that every leaf must finally fall,
it’s just that we can never catch them all.



This William Dunbar translation has more than 700 results:

Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar (1460-1525)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue that is held most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet everywhere, no odor but rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose of pallid and gentle cast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.



This Sappho translation has over 700 results:

Sappho, fragment 22
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That enticing girl's clinging dresses
leave me trembling, overcome by happiness,
as once, when I saw the Goddess in my prayers
eclipsing Cyprus.



This original poem has over 700 results for the first line:

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who
was born on September 11, 2001 and who
died at age nine, shot to death...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm―I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring―I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.



My Plato translation (or “take” on Plato) has over 650 results:

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
―Michael R. Burch, after Plato



This translation of a Middle English poem has more than 500 results:

How Long the Night
(anonymous Middle English poem, circa early 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast―
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



This original epigram returns over 500 results for the first line:

Here and Hereafter aka Saving Graces
by Michael R. Burch

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter...
wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter.

I have dedicated the epigram above to the so-called Religious Right and Moral Majority.



These Einstein limericks have over 500 results:

The Cosmological Constant
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein, the frizzy-haired,
said E equals MC squared.
Thus all mass decreases
as activity ceases?
Not my mass, my *** declared!

Asstronomical
by Michael R. Burch

Relativity, the theorists’ creed,
says mass increases with speed.
My (m)*** grows when I sit it.
Mr. Einstein, get with it;
equate its deflation, I plead!

Relative to Whom?
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein’s theory, incredibly silly,
says a relative grows *****-nilly
at speeds close to light.
Well, his relatives might,
but mine grow their (m)***** more stilly!



This poem has over 500 results:

Neglect
by Michael R. Burch

What good are tears?
Will they spare the dying their anguish?

What use, our concern
to a child sick of living, waiting to perish?

What good, the warm benevolence of tears
without action?

What help, the eloquence of prayers,
or a pleasant benediction?

Before this day is over,
how many more will die
with bellies swollen, emaciate limbs,
and eyes too parched to cry?

I fear for our souls
as I hear the faint lament
of theirs departing...
mournful, and distant.

How pitiful our "effort,"
yet how fatal its effect.
If they died, then surely we killed them,
if only with neglect.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has nearly 500 results:

The first soft snow:
leaves of the awed jonquil
bow low
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 400 results:

Come, investigate loneliness!
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This original Holocaust poem returns over 400 results:

Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon's, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and extend this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles!
They sleep alike―diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the "surgeons." Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less. Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man's crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I'll bed there and bid the world "Good Luck."



This translation of a Holocaust poem has nearly 300 results:

Speechless
by Ko Un
translation by Michael R. Burch

At Auschwitz
piles of glasses,
mountains of shoes...
returning, we stared out different windows.






Keywords/Tags: Michael Burch, popular, most popular, poems, epigrams, translations, quotes, Google, Internet, journals, literary journals, blogs, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo


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This original poem, which has become popular at Halloween, has nearly 3,000 results for the fifth line:

White in the Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

White in the shadows
I see your face,
unbidden. Go, tell
Love it is commonplace;
tell Regret it is not so rare.

Our love is not here
though you smile,
full of sedulous grace.
Lost in darkness, I fear
the past is our resting place.

Published by Carnelian, The Chained Muse, Poetry Life & Times, A-Poem-A-Day and in a YouTube video by Aurora G. with the titles “Ghost,” “White Goddess” and “White in the Shadows”



This original poem returns nearly 1,500 results:

Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts
The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.

A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.

In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep . . .

Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.

Published by The Lyric, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Life & Times




This translation of the oldest extant English poem has over 1,250 results:

Cædmon's Hymn (circa 658-680 AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Humbly now we honour heaven-kingdom's Guardian,
the Measurer's might and his mind-plans,
the goals of the Glory-Father. First he, the Everlasting Lord,
established earth's fearful foundations.
Then he, the First Scop, hoisted heaven as a roof
for the sons of men: Holy Creator,
mankind's great Maker! Then he, the Ever-Living Lord,
afterwards made men middle-earth: Master Almighty!



This Faiz Ahmed Faiz translation has over 1,000 results:

Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart—
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...


This light verse response to Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” has nearly 1,000 results:

Abide
by Michael R. Burch

after Philip Larkin's "Aubade"

It is hard to understand or accept mortality—
such an alien concept: not to be.
Perhaps unsettling enough to spawn religion,
or to scare mutant fish out of a primordial sea
boiling like goopy green tea in a kettle.
Perhaps a man should exhibit more mettle
than to admit such fear, denying Nirvana exists
simply because we are stuck here in such a fine fettle.
And so we abide . . .
even in life, staring out across that dark brink.
And if the thought of death makes your questioning heart sink,
it is best not to drink
(or, drinking, certainly not to think).

Originally published by Light Quarterly



This love poem has nearly 1,000 results:

don’t forget ...
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.



This original Hiroshima poem has nearly 800 results:

Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.
Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.
There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Penny Dreadful and Poetry Life & Times



This epigram has over 600 results for the first line:
Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we’ll discover what the heart is for.



This prayer poem has over 600 results and has been set to music and performed at a charity benefit for hurricane victims:

I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere the morrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.



This original poem has nearly 600 results:

Like Angels, Winged
by Michael R. Burch

Like angels—winged,
shimmering, misunderstood—
they flit beyond our understanding
being neither evil, nor good.

They are as they are ...
and we are their lovers, their prey;
they seek us out when the moon is full;
they dream of us by day.

Their eyes—hypnotic, alluring—
trap ours with their strange appeal
till like flame-drawn moths, we gather ...
to see, to touch, to feel.

And in their arms, enchanted,
we feel their lips, grown old,
till with their gorging kisses
we warm them, growing cold.



This original poem has over 500 results:

Distances
by Michael R. Burch

Moonbeams on water —
the reflected light
of a halcyon star
now drowning in night ...
So your memories are.

Footprints on beaches
now flooding with water;
the small, broken ribcage
of some primitive slaughter ...
So near, yet so far.



This original poem has over 500 results:

***** Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?



This Allama Iqbal translation has nearly 500 results for the second line:

Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.
My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.



This epigram/joke has over 400 results:

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick; Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.―Michael R. Burch



This **** Baudelaire translation has become popular with **** stars, escort sites and dating services, and has more than 400 results:

Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your ******* by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings—
how soft your *******, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods ...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!



This original poem has over 400 results:

What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~underwater~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles ...
Both worlds grow obscure.



This original poem I wrote as a teenager has almost 400 results:

The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant . . .
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
—feverish, wet—
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union . . .
when the rest of the world became distant.
Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

This is one of my early poems ; I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.



This original poem has more than 300 results:

Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...
what do we know of love,
or duty?



This original poem has more than 300 results:

escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 300 results:

An ancient pond,
the frog leaps:
the silver plop and gurgle of water
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This haiku translation has more than 300 results:

Oh, fallen camellias,
if I were you,
I'd leap into the torrent!
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of an Anacreon epigram has over 300 results:

Here he lies in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
—Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This 9–11 poem has over 300 results:

Charon 2001
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, have stood—paralyzed at the helm
watching onrushing, inevitable disaster.
I too have felt sweat (or ecstatic tears) plaster
damp hair to my eyes, as a slug’s dense film
becomes mucous-insulate. Always, thereafter
living in darkness, bright things overwhelm.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



This “almost” limerick has over 300 results:

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.



This little poetic snapshot has over 300 results:
Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



This vampire poem, popular at Halloween, has nearly 300 results:

Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

Pale though her eyes,
her lips are scarlet
from drinking of blood,
this child, this harlot

born of the night
and her heart, of darkness,
evil incarnate
to dance so reckless,

dreaming of blood,
her fangs―white―baring,
revealing her lust,
and her eyes, pale, staring...



This Fukuda Chiyo-ni haiku translation has nearly 300 results:

Ah butterfly!
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
― Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of the Palestinian poet Fadwa Tuqan has over 300 results:

Enough for Me
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Enough for me to lie in the earth,
to be buried in her,
to sink meltingly into her fecund soil, to vanish ...
only to spring forth like a flower
brightening the play of my countrymen's children.
Enough for me to remain
in my native soil's embrace,
to be as close as a handful of dirt,
a sprig of grass,
a wildflower.



This translation of a poem by the Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad has over 300 results:

Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

My era's obscuring mirror
shattered
because it magnified the small
and made the great seem insignificant.
Dictators and monsters filled its contours.
Now when I breathe
its jagged shards pierce my heart
and instead of sweat
I exude glass.



This original poem has over 300 results:

Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .
once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .
a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret . . .
a pain
I chose to bear . . .
unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .
and show me
once again—
how rare.



This original poem, popular at Valentine’s Day, has nearly 300 results:

Let Me Give Her Diamonds
by Michael R. Burch

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart's
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul's
thorn.

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter
season.

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts
require

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.



This original poem has nearly 300 results:

Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

for Anaïs Vionet

Desire glides in on calico wings,
a breath of a moth
seeking a companionable light,
where it hovers, unsure,
sullen, shy or demure,
in the margins of night,
a soft blur.

With a frantic dry rattle
of alien wings,
it rises and thrums one long breathless staccato
and flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.

This Vera Pavlova translation has over 250 results:

Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I shattered your heart;
now I limp through the shards
barefoot.



These Holocaust poem translations of Miklos Radnoti have over 200 results each:

Postcard 1
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Out of Bulgaria, the great wild roar of the artillery thunders,
resounds on the mountain ridges, rebounds, then ebbs into silence
while here men, beasts, wagons and imagination all steadily increase;
the road whinnies and bucks, neighing; the maned sky gallops;
and you are eternally with me, love, constant amid all the chaos,
glowing within my conscience―incandescent, intense.
Somewhere within me, dear, you abide forever―
still, motionless, mute, like an angel stunned to silence by death
or a beetle hiding in the heart of a rotting tree.



Postcard 2
by Miklós Radnóti
written October 6, 1944 near Crvenka, Serbia
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A few miles away they're incinerating
the haystacks and the houses,
while squatting here on the fringe of this pleasant meadow,
the shell-shocked peasants sit quietly smoking their pipes.
Now, here, stepping into this still pond, the little shepherd girl
sets the silver water a-ripple
while, leaning over to drink, her flocculent sheep
seem to swim like drifting clouds.



Postcard 3
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The oxen dribble ****** spittle;
the men pass blood in their ****.
Our stinking regiment halts, a horde of perspiring savages,
adding our aroma to death's repulsive stench.



Postcard 4
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I toppled beside him―his body already taut,
tight as a string just before it snaps,
shot in the back of the head.
"This is how you’ll end too; just lie quietly here,"
I whispered to myself, patience blossoming from dread.
"Der springt noch auf," the voice above me jeered;
I could only dimly hear
through the congealing blood slowly sealing my ear.

This was his final poem, written October 31, 1944 near Szentkirályszabadja, Hungary. "Der springt noch auf" means something like "That one is still twitching."



This poetic tribute to Muhammad Ali has over 250 results:

Ali’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a ***** a *****.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.

Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun,
and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Originally published by Black Medina



This poem about US involvement in an ongoing Holocaust has over 200 results:

who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born
a palestinian child
where there’s no Room
for the meek and the mild

... and in bethlehem still
to this day, lambs are born
to cries of “no Room!”
and Puritanical scorn ...

under Herod, Trump, Bibi
their fates are the same —
the slouching Beast mauls them
and WE have no shame:
“who’s to blame?”



This Ō no Yasumaro translation has over 200 results:

While you decline to cry,
high on the mountainside
a single stalk of plumegrass wilts.
―Ō no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



These Sappho translations have over 200 results:

Sappho, fragment 156
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

She keeps her scents
in a dressing-case.
And her sense?
In some undiscoverable place.



Sappho, fragment 58
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pain
drains
me
to
the
last
drop
.



This Parmenio translation has over 200 results:

Be ashamed, O mountains and seas,
that these valorous men lack breath.
Assume, like pale chattels,
an ashen silence at death.
—Michael R. Burch, after Parmenio



This original epigram has over 200 results:

Love is either wholly folly,
or fully holy.
—Michael R. Burch



Other poems, epigrams and translations with more than 100 results:



Hymn for Fallen Soldiers
by Michael R. Burch

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.
Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.

When I learned there’s an American military organization, the DPAA (Defense/POW/MIA Accounting Agency) that is still finding and bringing home the bodies of soldiers who died serving their country in World War II, after blubbering like a baby, I managed to eke out this poem.



Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

Abbesses’
recesses
are not for excesses!



pretty pickle
by michael r. burch

u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).



I, Too, Have a Dream
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I, too, have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.



My Nightmare ...
by Michael R. Burch  writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.



Multiplication, Tabled
by Michael R. Burch

(for the Religious Right)

“Be fruitful and multiply”—
great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, “WHEN!”



Once fanaticism has gangrened brains
the incurable malady invariably remains.
—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.

And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.

Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.



Indestructible, for Johnny Cash
by Michael R. Burch

What is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash is gone,
black from his hair to his bootheels.

Can a man out-endure mountains’ stone
if his songs lift us closer to heaven?
Can the steel in his voice vibrate on
till his words are our manna and leaven?

Then sing, all you mountains of stone,
with the rasp of his voice, and the gravel.
Let the twang of thumbed steel lead us home
through these weary dark ways all men travel.

For what is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash lives on—
black from his hair to his bootheels.



Wulf and Eadwacer
ancient Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poem, circa 990 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we're on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens. (fastened=secured)
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My hopes pursued Wulf like panting hounds,
but whenever it rained—how I wept!
the boldest cur clutched me in his paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.
Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.

Hearthside
by Michael R. Burch

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep...” — W. B. Yeats

For all that we professed of love, we knew
this night would come, that we would bend alone
to tend wan fires’ dimming bars—the moan
of wind cruel as the Trumpet, gelid dew
an eerie presence on encrusted logs
we hoard like jewels, embrittled so ourselves.
The books that line these close, familiar shelves
loom down like dreary chaperones. Wild dogs,
too old for mates, cringe furtive in the park,
as, toothless now, I frame this parchment kiss.
I do not know the words for easy bliss
and so my shriveled fingers clutch this stark,
long-unenamored pen and will it: Move.
I loved you more than words, so let words prove.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

Here the hills are old and rolling
casually in their old age;
on the horizon youthful mountains
bathe themselves in windblown fountains . . .

By dying leaves and falling raindrops,
I have traced time's starts and stops,
and I have known the years to pass
almost unnoticed, whispering through treetops . . .

For here the valleys fill with sunlight
to the brim, then empty again,
and it seems that only I notice
how the years flood out, and in . . .

This is an early poem that made me feel like a “real poet.” I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17.



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of "verse" that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed—
why should such tattered artistry be banned?
I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs ...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse "expensive prose."

Originally published by The Chariton Review



Will There Be Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
damask
and lilac
and sweet-scented heathers?

And will she find flowers,
or will she find thorns
guarding the petals
of roses unborn?

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
seashells
and mussels
and albatross feathers?

And will she find treasure
or will she find pain
at the end of this rainbow
of moonlight on rain?



in-flight convergence
by Michael R. Burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city extend
over lumbering behemoths
shrilly screeching displeasure;
they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command
here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast
seem one: from a distance;
descend,
they abruptly
part ways,
so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience
and man seems the afterthought of his own Brilliance
as we thunder down the enlightened runways.

Originally published by The Aurorean and nominated for the Pushcart Prize


Pan
by Michael R. Burch

... Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we fled ourselves ...
... Once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles ...
... where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss ...
... hangs weeping gently downward, maidens’ hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs ...
... that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees ...
... we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers ...
... of voices heard in wolves’ tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams’ soft, windy vowels ...



At Wilfred Owen’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

A week before the Armistice, you died.
They did not keep your heart like Livingstone’s,
then plant your bones near Shakespeare’s. So you lie
between two privates, sacrificed like Christ
to politics, your poetry unknown
except for that brief flurry’s: thirteen months
with Gaukroger beside you in the trench,
dismembered, as you babbled, as the stench
of gangrene filled your nostrils, till you clenched
your broken heart together and the fist
began to pulse with life, so close to death.
Or was it at Craiglockhart, in the care
of “ergotherapists” that you sensed life
is only in the work, and made despair
a thing that Yeats despised, but also breath,
a mouthful’s merest air, inspired less
than wrested from you, and which we confess
we only vaguely breathe: the troubled air
that even Sassoon failed to share, because
a man in pieces is not healed by gauze,
and breath’s transparent, unless we believe
the words are true despite their lack of weight
and float to us like chlorine—scalding eyes,
and lungs, and hearts. Your words revealed the fate
of boys who retched up life here, gagged on lies.



Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden—
the sameness of each day to day
while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.
Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray—
whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.
Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

Originally published by Southwest Review



At Once
by Michael R. Burch

Though she was fair,
though she sent me the epistle of her love at once
and inscribed therein love’s antique prayer,
I did not love her at once.
Though she would dare
pain’s pale, clinging shadows, to approach me at once,
the dark, haggard keeper of the lair,
I did not love her at once.
Though she would share
the all of her being, to heal me at once,
yet more than her touch I was unable bear.
I did not love her at once.
And yet she would care,
and pour out her essence ...
and yet—there was more!
I awoke from long darkness,
and yet—she was there.
I loved her the longer;
I loved her the more
because I did not love her at once.

Published by The Lyric, Romantics Quarterly and Grassroots Poetry



Chloe
by Michael R. Burch

There were skies onyx at night ... moons by day ...
lakes pale as her eyes ... breathless winds
******* tall elms; ... she would say
that we loved, but I figured we’d sinned.
Soon impatiens too fiery to stay
sagged; the crocus bells drooped, golden-limned;
things of brightness, rinsed out, ran to gray ...
all the light of that world softly dimmed.
Where our feet were inclined, we would stray;
there were paths where dead weeds stood untrimmed,
distant mountains that loomed in our way,
thunder booming down valleys dark-hymned.
What I found, I found lost in her face
while yielding all my virtue to her grace.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “A Dying Fall”



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

(for Leslie Mellichamp, the late editor of The Lyric,
who was a friend and mentor to many poets, and
a fine poet in his own right)

The stars were always there, too-bright cliches:
scintillant truths the jaded world outgrew
as baffled poets winged keyed kites—amazed,
in dream of shocks that suddenly came true . . .
but came almost as static—background noise,
a song out of the cosmos no one hears,
or cares to hear. The poets, starstruck boys,
lay tuned in to their kite strings, saucer-eared.
They thought to feel the lightning’s brilliant sparks
electrify their nerves, their brains; the smoke
of words poured from their overheated hearts.
The kite string, knotted, made a nifty rope . . .
You will not find them here; they blew away—
in tumbling flight beyond nights’ stars. They clung
by fingertips to satellites. They strayed
too far to remain mortal. Elfin, young,
their words are with us still. Devout and fey,
they wink at us whenever skies are gray.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Beat Goes On (and On and On and On ...)
by Michael R. Burch

Bored stiff by his board-stiff attempts
at “meter,” I crossly concluded
I’d use each iamb
in lieu of a lamb,
bedtimes when I’m under-quaaluded.

Originally published by Grand Little Things



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended . . . far, far away . . .
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.
Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.
Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!
Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.
Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.
Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die . . .
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

This is probably the poem that "made" me, because my high school English teacher called it "beautiful" and I took that to mean I was surely the Second Coming of Percy Bysshe Shelley! "Playmates" is the second poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time. It was originally published by The Lyric.



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.
If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


II.
If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,
or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall
and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and scoffs at quaint churchyards
littered with roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


III.
If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Yahweh, or Thor.
Think of Me as One
who never died—
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


IV.
And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark ...
If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign—
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.
So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know—
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


Translations with more than 100 results and/or a high number of page views:

“Wulf and Eadwacer” translation
“Deor’s Lament” translation
“The Wife’s Lament” translation
“Whoso List to Hunt” by Sir Thomas Wyatt, translation
“The Eager Traveler” by Ahmad Faraz, translation
“Herbsttag” (“Autumn Day”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Archaischer Torso Apollos” (“Archaic Torso of Apollo”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Komm, Du” (“Come, You”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Der Panther” (“The Panther”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Liebes-Lied” (“Love Song”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Das Lied des Bettlers” (“The Beggar’s Song”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
Original poems with more than 100 results:
“Water and Gold”
“See”
“The Folly of Wisdom”
“The Effects of Memory”
“Finally to Burn: the Fall and Resurrection of Icarus”




Dream of Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?
Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air
that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach,
then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?

Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage
on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?
Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,
have dreamed of infinity... windswept and blue.

This poem was originally published by TC Broadsheet Verses. I was paid a whopping $10, my first cash payment. It was subsequently published by Piedmont Literary Review, Penny Dreadful, the Net Poetry and Art Competition, Songs of Innocence, Poetry Life & Times, Better Than Starbucks and The Chained Muse.



we did not Dye in vain!
by Michael R. Burch

from “songs of the sea snails”

though i’m just a slimy crawler,
my lineage is proud:
my forebears gave their lives
(oh, let the trumps blare loud!)
so purple-mantled Royals
might stand out in a crowd.

i salute you, fellow loyals,
who labor without scruple
as your incomes fall
while deficits quadruple
to swaddle unjust Lords
in bright imperial purple!

Notes: In ancient times the purple dye produced from the secretions of purpura mollusks (sea snails) was known as “Tyrian purple,” “royal purple” and “imperial purple.” It was greatly prized in antiquity, and was very expensive according to the historian Theopompus: “Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon.” Thus, purple-dyed fabrics became status symbols, and laws often prevented commoners from possessing them. The production of Tyrian purple was tightly controlled in Byzantium, where the imperial court restricted its use to the coloring of imperial silks. A child born to the reigning emperor was literally porphyrogenitos ("born to the purple") because the imperial birthing apartment was walled in porphyry, a purple-hued rock, and draped with purple silks. Royal babies were swaddled in purple; we know this because the iconodules, who disagreed with the emperor Constantine about the veneration of images, accused him of defecating on his imperial purple swaddling clothes!



Circe
by Michael R. Burch

She spoke
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.

She awoke
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
without hope
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.

And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Keywords/Tags: Michael Burch, popular, most popular, best poems, viral poems, poetry, poetic expression, epigrams, epitaph, translation, translations, quotes, Google, Internet, journals, literary journals, blogs, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo, international, mrbpop, mrbbest, mrbest
Ejaz ul Haq Ejaz Mar 2020
One day I met with Iqbal
My head was bowed, my heart dejected
I said to him in a low voice:

"My life seems to me meaningless
I am a tiny being in this vastness of time and space
My existence seems to me false."

He smiled, and said in a voice bigger than life.

"Are you a mere particle of dust?
Why have you not tighten the knot of your ego.
Hold fast to your tiny being
How glorious is to burnish one's ego
And to test its lustre in the presence of the Sun !
Re-chisel, then, your ancient frame;
And build up a new being.
Such being is a real being;
Or else your being is a mere ring of smoke."
Arfah Afaqi Zia Nov 2015
A nation is the body,
people are its organs
Artisans are the nation's hands and feet

The State administration is the nation's beautiful face
The elegant-styled poet is the nation's clear-sighted eye

When any ***** is afflicted with pain, the eye weeps
How sympathetic to the world body is the eye
This man was an inspiration to everyone. Praises and accolades to him and the Quaid, they were the sole reason we got independence and a seperate state :)
Batool  Aug 2015
Our Story!!
Batool Aug 2015
Once
A man with broad vision
dreamt...
About the land of pures
Then
a man with excellent leadership skills
stood up to fulfill
the first man's dream
he gathered the scattered people
he fought for what was
righyfully ours
he turned the rouges into NATION
Togather they
suffered
sacrificed
bled
but yet the remained strong
holding each others back
against the cunning enemy
they were pure by heart
they had the golden soules
faith was running in their veins
thus they were granted
after years of hardship
with the most beautiful gift
the first man's dream was now a reality...!!

the man who dreamt IQBAL
the man who lead JINNAH
the land of pure PAKISTAN
the nation created PAKISTANIS
and this is OUR story !!

Independence Day !!
PROUD TO BE A PAKISTANI !!
14 August Our Independence Day .. Dont hate us for what we are not -terrorist .. Love us for what we are - Jinnah's Pakistan
MdAsadullah  Nov 2014
I AM MAN
MdAsadullah Nov 2014
I conquered vast pieces of land.
I ruled green patches and sand.
I am Akbar, I am Aurangzeb, I am Alexander, I am emperor,
I am man.

I discovered places which were unseen and unknown,
sometimes with my friends and sometimes alone,
I am da Gama, I am Polo, I am columbus, I am explorer,
I am man.

I constructed beautiful mosques and castles,
see this Taj, as if it was built by Angels.
I am Ustad Ahmed, I am Master james, I am Sinan, I am architect,
I am man.

I take rational approach to solve life's mystery,
through biology, physics and chemistry.
I am Jabir, I am Newton, I am Einstein, I am scientist,
I am man.

I have turned upside down many nations,
my thoughts and writings can inspire generations.
I am Marx, I am plato, I am socrates, I am philosopher,
I am man.

I crossed boundaries of earth to reach space,
Even on moon you can find my trace.
I am Aldrin, I am Gagarin, I am Armstrong, I am astronaut,
I am man.

I shape words like a sculptor with delicate touch,
my few words can convey so much.
I am Iqbal, I am Kabir, I am Wordsworth, I am poet
I am man.

I Stayed for nine months in her womb,
her love and kindness made a man in me to bloom,
She is sister, she is wife, she is mother, she is woman,
Yes, I am man because of a woman.
2 followers  Oct 2015
Iqbal
2 followers Oct 2015
Skinny body
Thin fingers
Sitting on a little stool
Working all day
Weaving all night
Until he ran
All the way to America
The fight wasn't done yet
Rode back to Pakistan
Spoke one last time
Before he was shot
A resounding gun shot
Killing a boy
Trying to save other
Skinny bodies
That had to weave
With thin fingers
This is about Iqbal Masih who fought against abusive child labor until he died when he was 12.
R.I.P
Michael R Burch Dec 2020
These are my best poems, or at least my most popular poems, according to the Internet. A number of my poems and translations have gone viral, according to Google, and some have been copied onto hundreds to thousands of web pages. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting! The results below are the results returned by Google at the time I did the searches.



This poem has over 691,000 results for the eleventh line, its most unique. The poem also has over 623,000 results for the entire first stanza plus the eleventh line, so the vast majority of the results seem to be for my poem. I attribute the ultra-high number of results to the poem being published by Amnesty International, then being quoted in The Hindu, with its huge circulation, and subsequently being quoted in a number of other Indian newspapers and news services.

First They Came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

Published in Amnesty International’s Words That Burn anthology, and by Borderless Journal (India), The Hindu (India), Matters India, New Age Bangladesh, Convivium Journal, PressReader (India) and Kracktivist (India)

It is indeed an honor to have one of my poems published by an outstanding organization like Amnesty International. A stated goal for the anthology is to teach students about human rights through poetry. Here is a bit of background information: Words That Burn is an online poetry anthology and human rights educational resource for students and teachers created by Amnesty International in partnership with The Poetry Hour. Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organization, with seven million supporters. This new webpage has been designed to "enable young people to explore human rights through poetry whilst developing their voice and skills as poets." This exemplary resource was inspired by the poetry anthology Words that Burn, curated by Josephine Hart of The Poetry Hour, which in turn was inspired by Thomas Gray's observation that "Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn."



This original epigram at one time returned more than 37,000 results and currently returns over 2,000 results:

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



This Sappho translation has more than 3,500 results:

Sappho, fragment 42
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eros harrows my heart:
wild winds whipping desolate mountains
uprooting oaks.



This original poem, which has become popular at Halloween, has nearly 3,000 results for the fifth line:

White in the Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

White in the shadows
I see your face,
unbidden. Go, tell
Love it is commonplace;
tell Regret it is not so rare.

Our love is not here
though you smile,
full of sedulous grace.
Lost in darkness, I fear
the past is our resting place.

Published by Carnelian, The Chained Muse, Poetry Life & Times, A-Poem-A-Day and in a YouTube video by Aurora G. with the titles “Ghost,” “White Goddess” and “White in the Shadows”



This Sappho translation has more than 1,700 results:

Sappho, fragment 155
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A short revealing frock?
It's just my luck
your lips were made to mock!



This Bertolt Brecht translation has more than 1,500 results:

The Burning of the Books
by Bertolt Brecht
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the Regime
commanded the unlawful books to be burned,
teams of dull oxen hauled huge cartloads to the bonfires.

Then a banished writer, one of the best,
scanning the list of excommunicated texts,
became enraged: he’d been excluded!

He rushed to his desk, full of contemptuous wrath,
to write fiery letters to the incompetents in power―
Burn me! he wrote with his blazing pen―
Haven’t I always reported the truth?
Now here you are, treating me like a liar!
Burn me!



This original poem returns nearly 1,500 results for the first line:

Something
―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost―
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone―
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past―
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

NOTE: This is, I think, the first poem I wrote which didn’t rhyme, and the only one for quite some time. I consider one of the best of my early poems; it was written in my late teens.



This original poem returns nearly 1,500 results:

Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts
The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.

A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.

In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep...

Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.

Published by The Lyric, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Life & Times



This original poem has over 1,300 results:

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

This may be the first poem I wrote. I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, and it was a traumatic experience. But I can’t remember if I wrote the epigram then, or came up with it later. In any case, it was probably written between age 11 and 13, or thereabouts.



My translation of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” returns over 1,300 results. It’s a bit long for this page but can be found online with a Google search like: Michael R. Burch Robert Burns translations.



This translation of the oldest extant English poem has over 1,250 results:

Cædmon's Hymn (circa 658-680 AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Humbly now we honour heaven-kingdom's Guardian,
the Measurer's might and his mind-plans,
the goals of the Glory-Father. First he, the Everlasting Lord,
established earth's fearful foundations.
Then he, the First Scop, hoisted heaven as a roof
for the sons of men: Holy Creator,
mankind's great Maker! Then he, the Ever-Living Lord,
afterwards made men middle-earth: Master Almighty!



This Faiz Ahmed Faiz translation has over 1,000 results:

Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart—
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason...



This Glaucus translation returns more than 1,000 results:

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
―Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus



This Yamaguchi Seishi translation returns over 1,000 results:

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This original poem has more than 1,000 results:

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her Tears...

Note: The phrase "frail envelope of flesh" was one of my first encounters with the power of poetry, although I read it in a superhero comic book as a young boy (I forget which one). More than thirty years later, the line kept popping into my head, so I wrote this poem. I have dedicated it to the mothers and children of Gaza and the Nakba. The word Nakba is Arabic for "Catastrophe."



This original epigram appears on a number of quote sites and returns nearly 1,000 results:

"Here and Hereafter" aka "Saving Graces"
by Michael R. Burch

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter ...
wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter.

I have dedicated the epigram above to the so-called Religious Right and Moral Majority.

Published by Shot Glass Journal, Brief Poems, Poem Today, Tennessee Poetry Society, Canucks Corner (Canada), AZquotes, IdleHearts, Inspiring Quotes, QuoteMaster, QuoteStats, MoreFamousQuotes


This William Dunbar translation has nearly 1,000 results for the second line; it appears in the top ten romantic poems of all time at PoemAnalysis, and in the top 20 sonnets of all time at StoryMirror.

Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar (1460-1525)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue that is held most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet everywhere, no odor but rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose of pallid and gentle cast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.

Published by Poet’s Corner, A Long Story Short, Poetry Magnum Opus, PoemAnalysis, Poemist, StoryMirror, Vajhu, PoetBay, Timeless Poetry, Orange Turtle, and turned into a YouTube video by Sarah Ahmed of the Livingstone Sonnet Project, into a rap/singing YouTube video by Jenna Thiel and Jake Owens, and into a YouTube poetry reading by Jordan Harling



This light verse response to Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” has nearly 1,000 results:

Abide
by Michael R. Burch

after Philip Larkin's "Aubade"

It is hard to understand or accept mortality—
such an alien concept: not to be.
Perhaps unsettling enough to spawn religion,
or to scare mutant fish out of a primordial sea
boiling like goopy green tea in a kettle.
Perhaps a man should exhibit more mettle
than to admit such fear, denying Nirvana exists
simply because we are stuck here in such a fine fettle.
And so we abide...
even in life, staring out across that dark brink.
And if the thought of death makes your questioning heart sink,
it is best not to drink
(or, drinking, certainly not to think).

Originally published by Light Quarterly



This love poem has nearly 1,000 results:

don’t forget...
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.



These two epigrams had a nicely symmetrical 888 results at the time I posted this:

Feathered Fiends I
by Michael R. Burch

Conformists of a feather
flock together.

Winner of the National Poetry Month Couplet Competition

Feathered Fiends II
by Michael R. Burch

Fascists of a feather
flock together.



This poem won a big Penguin Books (UK) Valentine poetry contest and returns over 800 results for the first line:

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!


This translation of an ancient English poem has over 800 results:

This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the early 14th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.



This original Hiroshima poem has nearly 800 results:

Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.
Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.
There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Penny Dreadful and Poetry Life & Times



This original epigram returns over 750 results:

Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It’s not that every leaf must finally fall,
it’s just that we can never catch them all.



This translation of a Middle English poem has more than 700 results:

How Long the Night
(anonymous Middle English poem, circa early 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast―
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



This Sappho translation has over 700 results:

Sappho, fragment 22
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That enticing girl's clinging dresses
leave me trembling, overcome by happiness,
as once, when I saw the Goddess in my prayers
eclipsing Cyprus.



This original poem has over 700 results for the first line:

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who
was born on September 11, 2001 and who
died at age nine, shot to death...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm―I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring―I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.



My Plato translation (or “take” on Plato) has over 650 results:

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
―Michael R. Burch, after Plato



This translation returns over 650 results:

Distant Light
by Walid Khazindar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Bitterly cold,
winter clings to the naked trees.
If only you would free
the bright sparrows
from your fingertips
and unleash a smile—that shy, tentative smile—
from the imprisoned anguish I see.
Sing! Can we not sing
as if we were warm, hand-in-hand,
sheltered by shade from a sweltering sun?
Can you not always remain this way,
stoking the fire, more beautiful than expected, in reverie?
Darkness increases and we must remain vigilant
now that this distant light is our sole consolation—
this imperiled flame, which from the beginning
has been flickering,
in danger of going out.
Come to me, closer and closer.
I don't want to be able to tell my hand from yours.
And let's stay awake, lest the snow smother us.



This epigram has over 600 results for the first line:

Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we’ll discover what the heart is for.



This prayer poem has over 600 results and has been set to music and performed at a charity benefit for hurricane victims:

I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere the morrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.





This original poem has over 600 results:

I, Too, Have a Dream
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I, too, have a dream...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.


This original poem has nearly 600 results:

Like Angels, Winged
by Michael R. Burch

Like angels—winged,
shimmering, misunderstood—
they flit beyond our understanding
being neither evil, nor good.

They are as they are...
and we are their lovers, their prey;
they seek us out when the moon is full;
they dream of us by day.

Their eyes—hypnotic, alluring—
trap ours with their strange appeal
till like flame-drawn moths, we gather...
to see, to touch, to feel.

And in their arms, enchanted,
we feel their lips, grown old,
till with their gorging kisses
we warm them, growing cold.



These Einstein limericks have over 500 results:

The Cosmological Constant
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein, the frizzy-haired,
said E equals MC squared.
Thus all mass decreases
as activity ceases?
Not my mass, my *** declared!

Asstronomical
by Michael R. Burch

Relativity, the theorists’ creed,
says mass increases with speed.
My (m)*** grows when I sit it.
Mr. Einstein, get with it;
equate its deflation, I plead!

Relative to Whom?
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein’s theory, incredibly silly,
says a relative grows *****-nilly
at speeds close to light.
Well, his relatives might,
but mine grow their (m)***** more stilly!



This poem has over 500 results:

Neglect
by Michael R. Burch

What good are tears?
Will they spare the dying their anguish?

What use, our concern
to a child sick of living, waiting to perish?

What good, the warm benevolence of tears
without action?

What help, the eloquence of prayers,
or a pleasant benediction?

Before this day is over,
how many more will die
with bellies swollen, emaciate limbs,
and eyes too parched to cry?

I fear for our souls
as I hear the faint lament
of theirs departing...
mournful, and distant.

How pitiful our "effort,"
yet how fatal its effect.
If they died, then surely we killed them,
if only with neglect.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has nearly 500 results:

The first soft snow:
leaves of the awed jonquil
bow low
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This original poem has over 500 results:

Distances
by Michael R. Burch

Moonbeams on water —
the reflected light
of a halcyon star
now drowning in night...
So your memories are.

Footprints on beaches
now flooding with water;
the small, broken ribcage
of some primitive slaughter...
So near, yet so far.



This original poem has over 500 results:

***** Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?



This Allama Iqbal translation has nearly 500 results for the second line:

Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.
My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.



This epigram/joke has over 400 results:

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick; Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.―Michael R. Burch



This **** Baudelaire translation has become popular with **** stars, escort sites and dating services, and has more than 400 results:

Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your ******* by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings—
how soft your *******, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!



This original poem has over 400 results:

What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~underwater~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles...
Both worlds grow obscure.



This original poem I wrote as a teenager has almost 400 results:

The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant...
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
—feverish, wet—
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union...
when the rest of the world became distant.
Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

This is one of my early poems ; I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.



This poem I wrote as a teenager has almost 400 results:

Leave Taking
by Michael R. Burch

Brilliant leaves abandon battered limbs
to waltz upon ecstatic winds
until they die.

But the barren and embittered trees,
lament the frolic of the leaves
and curse the bleak November sky ...

Now, as I watch the leaves' high flight
before the fading autumn light,
I think that, perhaps, at last I may

have learned what it means to say—
goodbye.

Several of my early poems were about aging, loss and death. Young poets can be so morbid! Like "Death/Styx" this poem is the parings of a longer poem. I think the sounds here are pretty good for a young poet "testing his wings." This poem started out as a stanza in a much longer poem, "Jessamyn's Song," that dates to around age 14 or 15.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 400 results:

Come, investigate loneliness!
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This original Holocaust poem returns over 400 results:

Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon's, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and extend this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles!
They sleep alike―diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the "surgeons." Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less. Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man's crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I'll bed there and bid the world "Good Luck."


This original poem has over 400 results:

Burn
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Sunbathe,
ozone baby,
till your parched skin cracks
in the white-hot flash
of radiation.

Incantation
from your pale parched lips
shall not avail;
you made this hell.
Now burn.

This was one of my early poems, written around age 19. I dedicated the poem to Trump after he pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change accords.



This translation has over 400 results:

Adam Lay Ybounden
(anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Adam lay bound, bound in a bond;
Four thousand winters, he thought, were not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerics now find written in their book.
But had the apple not been taken, or had it never been,
We'd never have had our Lady, heaven's queen.
So blesséd be the time the apple was taken thus;
Therefore we sing, "God is gracious!"



This original epigram has over 350 results:

The Whole of Wit
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Moore

If brevity is the soul of wit
then brevity and levity
are the whole of it.

Published by Shot Glass Journal, Brief Poems, AZquotes, IdleHearts, JarOfQuotes, QuoteFancy, QuoteMaster



This translation of a Holocaust poem has nearly 300 results:

Speechless
by Ko Un
translation by Michael R. Burch

At Auschwitz
piles of glasses,
mountains of shoes...
returning, we stared out different windows.



This original poem has more than 300 results:

Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty...
what do we know of love,
or duty?



This original poem has more than 300 results:

escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

to live among the daffodil folk...
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe...
suddenly pop out
the GARGANTUAN SPOUT...
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 300 results:

An ancient pond,
the frog leaps:
the silver plop and gurgle of water
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This haiku translation has more than 300 results:

Oh, fallen camellias,
if I were you,
I'd leap into the torrent!
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of an Anacreon epigram has over 300 results:

Here he lies in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
—Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This 9–11 poem has over 300 results:

Charon 2001
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, have stood—paralyzed at the helm
watching onrushing, inevitable disaster.
I too have felt sweat (or ecstatic tears) plaster
damp hair to my eyes, as a slug’s dense film
becomes mucous-insulate. Always, thereafter
living in darkness, bright things overwhelm.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



This “almost” limerick has over 300 results:

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.



This little poetic snapshot has over 300 results:

Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



This vampire poem, popular at Halloween, has nearly 300 results:

Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

Pale though her eyes,
her lips are scarlet
from drinking of blood,
this child, this harlot

born of the night
and her heart, of darkness,
evil incarnate
to dance so reckless,

dreaming of blood,
her fangs―white―baring,
revealing her lust,
and her eyes, pale, staring...



This Fukuda Chiyo-ni haiku translation has nearly 300 results:

Ah butterfly!
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
― Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of the Palestinian poet Fadwa Tuqan has over 300 results:

Enough for Me
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Enough for me to lie in the earth,
to be buried in her,
to sink meltingly into her fecund soil, to vanish...
only to spring forth like a flower
brightening the play of my countrymen's children.
Enough for me to remain
in my native soil's embrace,
to be as close as a handful of dirt,
a sprig of grass,
a wildflower.



This translation of a poem by the Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad has over 300 results:

Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

My era's obscuring mirror
shattered
because it magnified the small
and made the great seem insignificant.
Dictators and monsters filled its contours.
Now when I breathe
its jagged shards pierce my heart
and instead of sweat
I exude glass.



This original poem has over 300 results:

Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear...
once starlight
languished
in your hair...
a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret...
a pain
I chose to bear...
unleash
the torrent
of your hair...
and show me
once again—
how rare.



This original poem, popular at Valentine’s Day, has nearly 300 results:

Let Me Give Her Diamonds
by Michael R. Burch

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart's
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul's
thorn.

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter
season.

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts
require

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.



This original poem has nearly 300 results:

Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

for Anaïs Vionet

Desire glides in on calico wings,
a breath of a moth
seeking a companionable light,
where it hovers, unsure,
sullen, shy or demure,
in the margins of night,
a soft blur.

With a frantic dry rattle
of alien wings,
it rises and thrums one long breathless staccato
and flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.



This original poem has nearly 300 results:

Multiplication, Tabled
by Michael R. Burch

(for the Religious Right)

“Be fruitful and multiply”—
great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, “WHEN!”



This Vera Pavlova translation has over 250 results:

Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I shattered your heart;
now I limp through the shards
barefoot.



These Holocaust poem translations of Miklos Radnoti have over 200 results each:

Postcard 1
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Out of Bulgaria, the great wild roar of the artillery thunders,
resounds on the mountain ridges, rebounds, then ebbs into silence
while here men, beasts, wagons and imagination all steadily increase;
the road whinnies and bucks, neighing; the maned sky gallops;
and you are eternally with me, love, constant amid all the chaos,
glowing within my conscience―incandescent, intense.
Somewhere within me, dear, you abide forever―
still, motionless, mute, like an angel stunned to silence by death
or a beetle hiding in the heart of a rotting tree.



Postcard 2
by Miklós Radnóti
written October 6, 1944 near Crvenka, Serbia
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A few miles away they're incinerating
the haystacks and the houses,
while squatting here on the fringe of this pleasant meadow,
the shell-shocked peasants sit quietly smoking their pipes.
Now, here, stepping into this still pond, the little shepherd girl
sets the silver water a-ripple
while, leaning over to drink, her flocculent sheep
seem to swim like drifting clouds.



Postcard 3
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The oxen dribble ****** spittle;
the men pass blood in their ****.
Our stinking regiment halts, a horde of perspiring savages,
adding our aroma to death's repulsive stench.



Postcard 4
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I toppled beside him―his body already taut,
tight as a string just before it snaps,
shot in the back of the head.
"This is how you’ll end too; just lie quietly here,"
I whispered to myself, patience blossoming from dread.
"Der springt noch auf," the voice above me jeered;
I could only dimly hear
through the congealing blood slowly sealing my ear.

This was his final poem, written October 31, 1944 near Szentkirályszabadja, Hungary. "Der springt noch auf" means something like "That one is still twitching."



This poetic tribute to Muhammad Ali has over 250 results:

Ali’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a ***** a *****.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.

Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun,
and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Originally published by Black Medina



This translation of a Native American poem has nearly 250 results:

Cherokee Travelers' Blessing
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will extract the thorns from your feet.
For yet a little while, we will walk life's sunlit paths together.
I will love you like my own brother, my own blood.
When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes.
And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest.

Published by Better Than Starbucks, Setu (India), A Hundred Voices and The Cherokee Native Americans and Their Descendants



This poem about US involvement in an ongoing Holocaust has over 200 results:

who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born
a palestinian child
where there’s no Room
for the meek and the mild

... and in bethlehem still
to this day, lambs are born
to cries of “no Room!”
and Puritanical scorn...

under Herod, Trump, Bibi
their fates are the same —
the slouching Beast mauls them
and WE have no shame:
“who’s to blame?”



This Ō no Yasumaro translation has over 200 results:

While you decline to cry,
high on the mountainside
a single stalk of plumegrass wilts.
―Ō no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



These Sappho translations have over 200 results:

Sappho, fragment 156
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

She keeps her scents
in a dressing-case.
And her sense?
In some undiscoverable place.



Sappho, fragment 58
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pain
drains
me
to
the
last
drop
.



This Parmenio translation has over 200 results:

Be ashamed, O mountains and seas,
that these valorous men lack breath.
Assume, like pale chattels,
an ashen silence at death.
—Michael R. Burch, after Parmenio



This original epigram has over 200 results:

Love is either wholly folly,
or fully holy.
—Michael R. Burch



This original epigram has over 200 results:

Laughter’s Cry
by Michael R. Burch

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.

Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.



This original poem about King Arthur’s mysterious origins has over 200 results:

At Tintagel
by Michael R. Burch

That night,
at Tintagel,
there was darkness such as man had never seen ...
darkness and treachery,
and the unholy thundering of the sea ...

In his arms,
who can say how much she knew?
And if he whispered her name ...
“Ygraine!”
... could she tell above the howling wind and rain?

Could she tell, or did she care,
by the length of his hair
or the heat of his flesh, ...
that her faceless companion
was Uther, the dragon,
and Gorlois lay dead?

Originally published by Songs of Innocence



This original poem I wrote for my wife Beth has over 200 results:

Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light
and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night,
or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior.

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love,
this—our reclamation;
fallen wren,
you must strive to fly
though your heart is shaken;
weary pilgrim,
you must not give up
though your feet are aching;
lonely child,
lie here still in my arms;
you must soon be waking.



Other poems, epigrams and translations with more than 100 results:



Hymn for Fallen Soldiers
by Michael R. Burch

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.
Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.

When I learned there’s an American military organization, the DPAA (Defense/POW/MIA Accounting Agency) that is still finding and bringing home the bodies of soldiers who died serving their country in World War II, after blubbering like a baby, I managed to eke out this poem.



Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

Abbesses’
recesses
are not for excesses!



pretty pickle
by michael r. burch

u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).




My Nightmare...
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.



Once fanaticism has gangrened brains
the incurable malady invariably remains.
—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch



Nod to the Master
by Michael R. Burch

If every witty thing that’s said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.

And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.

Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.



Indestructible, for Johnny Cash
by Michael R. Burch

What is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash is gone,
black from his hair to his bootheels.

Can a man out-endure mountains’ stone
if his songs lift us closer to heaven?
Can the steel in his voice vibrate on
till his words are our manna and leaven?

Then sing, all you mountains of stone,
with the rasp of his voice, and the gravel.
Let the twang of thumbed steel lead us home
through these weary dark ways all men travel.

For what is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash lives on—
black from his hair to his bootheels.



Wulf and Eadwacer
ancient Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poem, circa 990 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we're on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens. (fastened=secured)
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My hopes pursued Wulf like panting hounds,
but whenever it rained—how I wept!
the boldest cur clutched me in his paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.
Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

Here the hills are old and rolling
casually in their old age;
on the horizon youthful mountains
bathe themselves in windblown fountains...

By dying leaves and falling raindrops,
I have traced time's starts and stops,
and I have known the years to pass
almost unnoticed, whispering through treetops...

For here the valleys fill with sunlight
to the brim, then empty again,
and it seems that only I notice
how the years flood out, and in...

This is an early poem that made me feel like a “real poet.” I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17.



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of "verse" that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed—
why should such tattered artistry be banned?
I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse "expensive prose."

Originally published by The Chariton Review



Will There Be Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
damask
and lilac
and sweet-scented heathers?

And will she find flowers,
or will she find thorns
guarding the petals
of roses unborn?

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
seashells
and mussels
and albatross feathers?

And will she find treasure
or will she find pain
at the end of this rainbow
of moonlight on rain?



Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden—
the sameness of each day to day
while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.
Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray—
whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.
Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

Originally published by Southwest Review



Ironic Vacation
by Michael R. Burch

Salzburg.
Seeing Mozart’s baby grand piano.
Standing in the presence of sheer incalculable genius.
Grabbing my childish pen to write a poem & challenge the Immortals.
Next stop, the catacombs!

This is a poem I wrote about a vacation my family took to Salzburg when I was a boy, age 11 or perhaps a bit older.



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended... far, far away...
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.
Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.
Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!
Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.
Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.
Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die...
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

This is probably the poem that "made" me, because my high school English teacher called it "beautiful" and I took that to mean I was surely the Second Coming of Percy Bysshe Shelley! "Playmates" is the second poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time. It was originally published by The Lyric.

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Today is world Hindi Day.
I devote a little thought on this topic with the beautiful Lines of Allama Iqbal "हिंदी हैं हम हिंदुस्तान हमारा"
And भारतेंदु हरिश्चंद्र की पंक्ति " निज भाषा उन्नति अहै, सब उन्नति को मूल"।
The World Hindi Day is being celebrated on January 10th marking the anniversary of the first World Hindi conference which was celebrated on 10th January 1975 and Was chaired by the then PM Smt. Indira Gandhi. The purpose of World Hindi Day is to promote the Hindi on the world Arena.
Officially the World Hindi Day Was commenced on 10th January 2006 by the then PM Dr.Manmohan Singh.
I am writing some lines about the beauty and nature of the Hindi language on this auspicious occasion.

हिंदी में वही लिखा जाता ,
जो जुबान से बोला जाता।
हिंदी में भाव है भारतीयता का
जैसे पट्टी- बरते का
या साड़ी - पगड़ी का
या फिर सब्जी- रोटी का।
हिंदी में भाव है खेलों का
जैसे होकी-छड़ी का
या चील-झपट्टे का
या फिर रस्सा-कशी का।
हिंदी में भाव है संगीत का
जैसे ढोल - ताशे का
या तबले- बाजे का
या फिर बीन-बांसुरी का।
हिंदी में भाव है रिश्तों का
जैसे छोटे - बड़े का
या मर्द -लुगाई का
या फिर आप- अपनत्व का।
हिंदी में भाव है सच्ची सीख का
जैसे ज्ञान -विज्ञान का
या अखबार - किताब का
या फिर आचार -विचार का।
हिंदी में भाव है मौसम का
जैसी सर्दी- गर्मी का
या बारिस- सूखे का
या फिर अकाल- जमाने का।
हिंदी में भाव है नैतिकता का
जैसे साधु- संत का
या राजा- रंक का
या फिर ज्ञानी- मूर्ख का।
हिंदी में भाव है सहजता का
जैसे सीधे- सरल का
या मीठे - खट्टे का
या फिर लंबे- नाटे का।

— The End —