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Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Sumer is icumen in
anonymous Middle English poem, circa 1260 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Summer is a-comin’!
Sing loud, cuckoo!
The seed grows,
The meadow blows,
The woods spring up anew.
Sing, cuckoo!

The ewe bleats for her lamb;
The cows contentedly moo;
The bullock roots,
The billy-goat poots ...
Sing merrily, cuckoo!

Cuckoo, cuckoo,
You sing so well, cuckoo!
Never stop, until you're through!

Sing now cuckoo! Sing, cuckoo!
Sing, cuckoo! Sing now cuckoo!

***

Keywords/Tags: Middle English, medieval, reading, rota, round, partsong, summer, cuckoo, sing, cuckold, seed, meadow, woods, ewe, lamb, cows, bullock, goat, billy-goat, poot, ****, pass gas, never stop

These notes were taken from the poem's Wikipedia page ...

"Sumer Is Icumen In" (also called the Summer Canon and the Cuckoo Song) is a medieval English round or rota of the mid-13th century. The title translates approximately to "Summer Has Come In" or "Summer Has Arrived". The song is composed in the Wessex dialect of Middle English. Although the composer's identity is unknown today, it may have been W. de Wycombe. The manuscript in which it is preserved was copied between 1261 and 1264. This rota is the oldest known musical composition featuring six-part polyphony. It is sometimes called the Reading Rota because the earliest known copy of the composition, a manuscript written in mensural notation, was found at Reading Abbey; it was probably not drafted there, however (Millett 2004). The British Library now retains this manuscript (Millett 2003a). A rota is a type of round, which in turn is a kind of partsong. To perform the round, one singer begins the song, and a second starts singing the beginning again just as the first got to the point marked with the red cross in the first figure below. The length between the start and the cross corresponds to the modern notion of a bar, and the main verse comprises six phrases spread over twelve such bars. In addition, there are two lines marked "Pes", two bars each, that are meant to be sung together repeatedly underneath the main verse. These instructions are included (in Latin) in the manuscript itself:

"Hanc rota cantare possum quatuor socii. A paucio/ribus autem quam a tribus uel saltem duobus non debet/ dici preter eos qui dicunt pedem. Canitur autem sic. Tacen/tibus ceteris unus inchoat *** hiis qui tenent pedem. Et *** uenerit/ ad primam notam post crucem, inchoat alius, et sic de ceteris./ Singuli de uero repausent ad pausacionis scriptas et/non alibi, spacio unius longe note."

(Four companions can sing this round. But it should not be sung by fewer than three, or at the very least, two in addition to those who sing the pes. This is how it is sung. While all the others are silent, one person begins at the same time as those who sing the ground. And when he comes to the first note after the cross [which marks the end of the first two bars], another singer is to begin, and thus for the others. Each shall observe the written rests for the space of one long note [triplet], but not elsewhere.)

The lyric may have been composed by W. de Wycombe, also identified as W de Wyc, Willelmus de Winchecumbe, Willelmo de Winchecumbe or William of Winchcomb. He appears to have been a secular scribe and precentor employed for about four years at the priory of Leominster in Herefordshire during the 1270s. He is also thought to have been a sub-deacon of the cathedral priory as listed in the Worcester Annals or possibly a monk at St Andrew's in Worcester. But it is not know if he composed the song, or merely preserved it by copying it.
Pagan Paul Aug 2017
.
i.
The morning mist dissipated
as the ships keel ploughed a furrow
through the Great Green of the Aegean,
leaving far behind the magick isle.
Vigilantos stood at the prow,
marvelling at the accompanying dolphins,
curious and playful,
schooling with purpose to the ocean.
Ahead, waiting, a grand tour.
Of Sumer, Abyssinia and desert lands,
to glean hidden knowledge,
regain the mysteries of the ancients,
read the Necronomicon and old scripts
from a time when power crackled,
and the storms of the gods
belittled the existence of mankind.

ii.
The twilight Moon peeps
from behind the brazen grey cloud.
And she weaves hap-hazard
through the crushes of the crowd.
A high-born daughter of the desert,
a vision of beauty from the sand.
With silks and satin and perfume
richly obtained from foreign lands.
Through the colourful bazaar she threads
with occasional glances thrown at stalls,
priestess jewels sparkle in the night,
its her Name the sirocco calls.

iii.
Cobalt blue water, an illusion of light
where the sun slides through the meniscus,
and the harbour of Tyre was alive.
The bustling of boats around ships at anchor,
snatching glimpses of a turquoise sky
and the quay throbbing with the pulse of music.
It would be another 3 thousand years
before Rome was even a trading post on the Tiber,
let alone an empire conquering the east,
or building hippodromes and columned avenues.
Vigilantos drank in the atmosphere,
his magicians instincts bristling, noting all.
Meandering through the narrow streets,
loosely following direction, getting lost.
Seeking his retinue and camels, ready to start,
across the desert to Ninevah on the Tigris.
To speak to tribes, pray with the priests of Ur.
To find the secrets of mysteries, and treasure,
reaping the knowledge of the Old Gods awe,
amongst the shifting dunes of history.

iv.
Vivid colours of silks and dyes
adorn the tents of cloth and stick.
The summer sun beats down lazy,
heat as oppressive as mist is thick.
Her charms and delights are hidden,
with misery and pain, the last week spent.
The dark, the quiet, the inane chatter,
deep within the women's red tent.
Free from the curse, her moon-cycle complete,
she wanders with mood sombre and slow.
A powerful man from a western place
will arrive at the camp as the sun sinks low.
He had seen her in the main bazaar
and decided to stake his claim.
Whilst confined away, behind her back,
her father had bartered for riches and fame.

v.
His travels around those beautiful lands
had yielded books of law and scripts.
He had heard the oral traditions of elders
and gazed in wonder at the Moon's eclipse.
Then he had seen the greatest treasure
wending her way through crowded markets.
With tact and guile he discovered her Name,
and vowed to grace her father's carpets.

The desert folk live a simple life
but far from simple are they.
Sharp of tongue and quick of wit,
erudite in a most unusual way.
The father was the elected leader,
King of the tribe that he now led.
Vigilantos had bargained hard
to purchase the girl for his marital bed.

vi.
The sun sinks, falling from the sky in the eve.
Spectacular reds and orange colliding with the dunes.
The azure twilight sky lit and sprinkled with stars,
and the tribal camp fills with laughter and tunes.

vii
He walked with purpose toward the campfire,
his features silhouetted by flickering light.
The sudden hush of the assembled camp
echoed strange, deep into the desert night.
His eyes beheld her most beautiful form,
half in the shadow, half in the light.
For her families benefit he had traded,
agreed bargains, and come to claim his right.

“Princess of the desert, Daughter of the sand,
step forward gently and take me by the hand.
For my island home calls out loud to me,
so come, let us away across the sea”.

Head bowed in fake submission
she boldly makes her cold admission.

“I am a Woman of the free,
these sands are my home to me.
With all good grace; I could not face
life on an island in the sea”.

viii.
Black and red, darkness and rage
descend upon his fevered mind.
Humiliated, spurned by a maiden fair,
and pride will not be left behind.

“A curse. A curse. 'pon thy beautiful head,
prowl and creep as do the undead.
Evil deeds are now thy course,
henceforth our contract is now divorced”.

But something made Vigilantos start,
a pang of something from his dead heart.
With such feelings he could not contend,
so a caveat, for the curse to amend.

“Thy deeds and crimes maybe invested
'pon mortals only who invest the same such evil
'pon their fellow mortals”.

ix.
Leaving far behind the desert
he turns his face to the sky.
The ships keel ploughs a furrow
as the evening mist draws nigh.

And now she prowls the dark night,
her Name lost in the sands of time.
Seeking out the mortal sinners and
punishing their evil with her crimes.

... and thus it begins ...
Judderwitch.


© Pagan Paul (08/08/17)
.
Prequel to The Judderwitch poem (posted in April).
I fear this may create more questions than it answers.

My Judderwitch poems are now in a collection :)
https://hellopoetry.com/collection/28451/judderwitch/
PPx
.
Michael R Burch May 2020
Epigrams by Michael R. Burch



Conformists of a feather
flock together.
—Michael R. Burch

(Winner of the National Poetry Month Couplet Competition)



My objective is not to side with the majority, but to avoid the ranks of the insane.—Marcus Aurelius, translation by Michael R. Burch



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.

(Published by Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Super Highway, Poets for Humanity, Daily Kos, Katutura English, Genocide Awareness, Darfur Awareness Shabbat, Viewing Genocide in Sudan, Better Than Starbucks, Art Villa, Setu, Angle, AZquotes, QuoteMaster; also translated into Czech, Indonesian, Romanian and Turkish)



Childless
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.



Stormfront
by Michael R. Burch

Our distance is frightening:
a distance like the abyss between heaven and earth
interrupted by bizarre and terrible lightning.



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.

(Originally published by Angelwing)



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.

(Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, this poem has been translated into Russian, Macedonian, Turkish and Romanian)



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.

(Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, this poem has been translated into Russian, Arabic, Turkish and Macedonian)



*** Hex
by Michael R. Burch

Love's full of cute paradoxes
(and highly acute poxes) .

(Published by ***** of Parnassus and Lighten Up)



Styx
by Michael R. Burch

Black waters—deep and dark and still.
All men have passed this way, or will.

(Published by The Raintown Review and Blue Unicorn; also translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. This is one of my early poems, written as a teenager. I believe it was my first epigram.)



Fahr an' Ice
by Michael R. Burch

(apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash)

From what I know of death, I'll side with those
who'd like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker) ,
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.



Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!
Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.



Multiplication, Tabled
or Procreation Inflation
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! "



The Whole of Wit
by Michael R. Burch

If brevity is the soul of wit
then brevity and levity
are the whole of it.

(Published by Shot Glass Journal)



Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

Abbesses'
recesses
are not for excesses!

(Published by Brief Poems)



Saving Graces, for the Religious Right
by Michael R. Burch

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

(Published by Shot Glass Journal and Poem Today)



Skalded
by Michael R. Burch

Fierce ancient skalds summoned verse from their guts;
today's genteel poets prefer modern ruts.



Not Elves, Exactly
by Michael R. Burch

Something there is that likes a wall,
that likes it spiked and likes it tall,
that likes its pikes' sharp rows of teeth
and doesn't mind its victims' grief
(wherever they come from, far or wide)
as long as they fall on the other side.



Self-ish
by Michael R. Burch

Let's not pretend we "understand" other elves
as long as we remain mysteries to ourselves.



Piecemeal
by Michael R. Burch

And so it begins—the ending.
The narrowing veins, the soft tissues rending.
Your final solution is pending.
(A pale Piggy-Wiggy
will discount your demise as no biggie.)



Liquid Assets
by Michael R. Burch

And so I have loved you, and so I have lost,
accrued disappointment, ledgered its cost,
debited wisdom, credited pain...
My assets remaining are liquid again.



**** Brevis, Emendacio Longa
by Michael R. Burch

The Donald may tweet from sun to sun,
but his spellchecker’s work is never done.



Brief Fling
by Michael R. Burch

Epigram
means cram,
then scram!



To write an epigram, cram.
If you lack wit, scram!
—Michael R. Burch



Fleet Tweet: Apologies to Shakespeare
by Michael R. Burch

A tweet
by any other name
would be as fleet.

@mikerburch (Michael R. Burch)



Fleet Tweet II: Further Apologies to Shakespeare
by Michael R. Burch

Remember, doggonit,
heroic verse crowns the Shakespearean sonnet!
So if you intend to write a couplet,
please do it on the doublet!

@mikerburch (Michael R. Burch)



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



Civility
is the ability
to disagree
agreeably.
—Michael R. Burch



****** Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“****** most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

(Published by Lighten Up Online and Potcake Chapbooks)



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)



Midnight Stairclimber
by Michael R. Burch

Procreation
is at first great sweaty recreation,
then—long, long after the *** dies—
the source of endless exercise.

(Published by Angelwing and Brief Poems)



Love has the value
of gold, if it's true;
if not, of rue.
—Michael R. Burch



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



Nonsense Verse for a Nonsensical White House Resident
by Michael R. Burch

Roses are red,
Daffodils are yellow,
But not half as daffy
As that taffy-colored fellow!



There's no need to rant about Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The cruelty of "civilization" suffices:
our ordinary vices.
—Michael R. Burch



Sumer is icumen in
a modern English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

(this update of an ancient classic is dedicated to everyone who suffers with hay fever and other allergies)

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing achu!
Groweth sed
And bloweth hed
And buyeth med?
Cuccu!

Originally published by Lighten Up Online (as Kim Cherub)

NOTE: I kept the medieval spellings of “sumer” (summer), “lhude” (loud), “sed” (seed) and “hed” (head). I then slipped in the modern slang term “med” for medication. The first line means something like “Summer’s a-comin’ in!” In the original poem the cuckoo bird was considered to be a harbinger of spring, but here “cuccu” simply means “crazy!”



Redefinitions

Faith: falling into the same old claptrap.—Michael R. Burch

Religion: the ties that blind.—Michael R. Burch

Baseball: lots of spittin' mixed with some hittin'.—Michael R. Burch

Love: a temporary insanity curable by marriage.—Michael R. Burch

Insuresurrection: The dead are always with us, and yet they are naught! —Michael R. Burch

Trickle down economics: an especially pungent *******.—Michael R. Burch



Translations

Birdsong
by Rumi
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Birdsong relieves
my deepest griefs:
now I'm just as ecstatic as they,
but with nothing to say!
Please universe,
rehearse
your poetry
through me!

Raise your words, not their volume.
Rain grows flowers, not thunder.
—Rumi, translation by Michael R. Burch

The imbecile constructs cages for everyone he knows,
while the sage (who has to duck his head whenever the moon glows)
keeps dispensing keys all night long
to the beautiful, rowdy, prison gang.
—Hafiz loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An unbending tree
breaks easily.
—Lao Tzu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparks ignite great Infernos.—Dante, translation by Michael R. Burch

Love distills the eyes’ desires, love bewitches the heart with its grace.―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

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

Booksellers laud authors for novel editions
as pimps praise their ****** for exotic positions.
—Thomas Campion, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

No wind is favorable to the man who lacks direction.
—Seneca the Younger, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Hypocrisy may deceive the most perceptive adult, but the dullest child recognizes and is revolted by it, however ingeniously disguised.
—Leo Tolstoy translation by Michael R. Burch

Just as I select a ship when it's time to travel,
or a house when it's time to change residences,
even so I will choose when it's time to depart from life.
—Seneca, speaking about the right to euthanasia in the first century AD, translation by Michael R. Burch

Improve yourself through others' writings, thus attaining more easily what they acquired through great difficulty.
—Socrates, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fools call wisdom foolishness.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

One true friend is worth ten thousand kin.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Not to speak one’s mind is slavery.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

I would rather die standing than kneel, a slave.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fresh tears are wasted on old griefs.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch



Native American Proverb
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Before you judge
a man for his sins
be sure to trudge
many moons in his moccasins.



Native American Proverb
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky's deepest blues.



Native American Proverb
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us walk respectfully here
among earth's creatures, great and small,
remembering, our footsteps light,
that one wise God created all.



The Least of These...

What you
do
to
the refugee
you
do
unto
Me!
—Jesus Christ, translation/paraphrase by Michael R. Burch



The Church Gets the Burch Rod

How can the Bible be "infallible" when from Genesis to Revelation slavery is commanded and condoned, but never condemned? —Michael R. Burch

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.
—Michael R. Burch

I have my doubts about your God and his "love":
If one screams below, what the hell is "Above"?
—Michael R. Burch

If God has the cattle on a thousand hills,
why does he need my tithes to pay his bills?
—Michael R. Burch

The best tonic for other people's bad ideas is to think for oneself.—Michael R. Burch

Hell hath no fury like a fundamentalist whose God condemned him for having "impure thoughts."—Michael R. Burch

Religion is the difficult process of choosing the least malevolent invisible friends.—Michael R. Burch

Religion is the ****** of the people.—Karl Marx
Religion is the dopiate of the sheeple.—Michael R. Burch

An ideal that cannot be realized is, in the end, just wishful thinking.—Michael R. Burch

God and his "profits" could never agree
on any gospel acceptable to an intelligent flea.
—Michael R. Burch

To fall an inch short of infinity is to fall infinitely short.—Michael R. Burch

Most Christians make God seem like the Devil. Atheists and agnostics at least give him the "benefit of the doubt."—Michael R. Burch

Hell has been hellishly overdone.
Why blame such horrors on God's only Son
when Jehovah and his prophets never mentioned it once?
—Michael R. Burch

(Bible scholars agree: the word "hell" has been removed from the Old Testaments of the more accurate modern Bible translations. And the few New Testament verses that mention "hell" are obvious mistranslations.)



Clodhoppers
by Michael R. Burch

If you trust the Christian "god"
you're—like Adumb—a clod.




If every witty thing that's said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!
—Michael R. Burch



Questionable Credentials
by Michael R. Burch

Poet? Critic? Dilettante?
Do you know what's good, or do you merely flaunt?

(Published by ***** of Parnassus, the first poem in the April 2017 issue)



*******
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy is an illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.



Lines in Favor of Female Muses
by Michael R. Burch

I guess ***** of Parnassus are okay...
But those Lasses of Parnassus? My! Olé!

(Published by ***** of Parnassus)



Meal Deal
by Michael R. Burch

Love is a splendid ideal
(at least till it costs us a meal) .



Long Division
by Michael R. Burch as Kim Cherub

All things become one
Through death's long division
And perfect precision.



i o u
by mrb

i might have said it
but i didn't

u might have noticed
but u wouldn't

we might have been us
but we couldn't

u might respond
but probably shouldn't




Mate Check
by Michael R. Burch

Love is an ache hearts willingly secure
then break the bank to cure.



Incompatibles
by Michael R. Burch

Reason's treason!
cries the Heart.

Love's insane,
replies the Brain.

(Originally published by Light)



Death is the ultimate finality
of reality.
—Michael R. Burch



Stage Fright
by Michael R. Burch

To be or not to be?
In the end Hamlet
opted for naught.



Grave Oversight
by Michael R. Burch

The dead are always with us,
and yet they are naught!



Feathered Fiends
by Michael R. Burch

Fascists of a feather
flock together.



Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.



Housman was right...
by Michael R. Burch

It's true that life's not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It's just the bon voyage is hard
and the objections loud.



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star ...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Descent
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this morning
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I do not believe mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.



Reading between the lines
by Michael R. Burch

Who could have read so much, as we?
Having the time, but not the inclination,
TV has become our philosophy,
sheer boredom, our recreation.



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!



Imperfect Perfection
by Michael R. Burch

You're too perfect for words—
a problem for a poet.



Expert Advice
by Michael R. Burch

Your ******* are perfect for your lithe, slender body.
Please stop making false comparisons your hobby!



Thirty
by Michael R. Burch

Thirty crept upon me slowly
with feline caution and a slowly-twitching tail;
patiently she waited for the winds to shift;
now, claws unsheathed, she lies seething to assail
her helpless prey.



Biblical Knowledge or "Knowing Coming and Going"
by Michael R. Burch

The wisest man the world has ever seen
had fourscore concubines and threescore queens?
This gives us pause, and so we venture hence—
he "knew" them, wisely, in the wider sense.



Snap Shots
by Michael R. Burch

Our daughters must be celibate,
die virgins. We triangulate
their early paths to heaven (for
the martyrs they'll soon conjugate) .

We like to hook a little tail.
We hope there's decent *** in jail.
Don't fool with us; our bombs are smart!
(We'll send the plans, ASAP, e-mail.)

The soul is all that matters; why
hoard gold if it offends the eye?
A pension plan? Don't make us laugh!
We have your plan for sainthood. (Die.)



I sampled honeysuckle
and it made my taste buds buckle.
—Michael R. Burch



The Editor

A poet may work from sun to sun,
but his editor's work is never done.

The Critic

The editor's work is never done.
The critic adjusts his cummerbund.

The Audience

While the critic adjusts his cummerbund,
the audience exits to mingle and slum.

The Anthologist

As the audience exits to mingle and slum,
the anthologist rules, a pale jury of one.



Athenian Epitaphs

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

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

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

We who left behind the Aegean’s bellowings
Now sleep peacefully here on the mid-plains of Ecbatan:
Farewell, dear Athens, nigh to Euboea,
Farewell, dear sea!
Michael R. Burch, after Plato

Passerby,
Tell the Spartans we lie
Lifeless at Thermopylae:
Dead at their word,
Obedient to their command.
Have they heard?
Do they understand?
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

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

They observed our fearful fetters, braved the overwhelming darkness.

Now we extol their excellence: bravely, they died for us.
Michael R. Burch, after Mnasalcas

Blame not the gale, nor the inhospitable sea-gulf, nor friends’ tardiness,
Mariner! Just man’s foolhardiness.
Michael R. Burch, after Leonidas of Tarentum

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

These men earned a crown of imperishable glory,
Nor did the maelstrom of death obscure their story.
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

Stranger, flee!
But may Fortune grant you all the prosperity
she denied me.
Michael R. Burch, after Leonidas of Tarentum

Now that I am dead sea-enclosed Cyzicus shrouds my bones.
Faretheewell, O my adoptive land that nurtured me, that held me;
I take rest at your breast.
Michael R. Burch, after Erycius

I am loyal to you master, even in the grave:
Just as you now are death’s slave.
Michael R. Burch, after Dioscorides

Stripped of her stripling, if asked, she’d confess:
“I am now less than nothingness.”
Michael R. Burch, after Diotimus

Dead as you are, though you lie still as stone,
huntress Lycas, my great Thessalonian hound,
the wild beasts still fear your white bones;
craggy Pelion remembers your valor,
splendid Ossa, the way you would bound
and bay at the moon for its whiteness,
bellowing as below we heard valleys resound.
And how brightly with joy you would canter and run
the strange lonely peaks of high Cithaeron!
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

Having never earned a penny,
nor seen a bridal gown slip to the floor,
still I lie here with the love of many,
to be the love of yet one more.
Michael R. Burch, after an unknown Greek poet

I lie by stark Icarian rocks
and only speak when the sea talks.
Please tell my dear father that I gave up the ghost
on the Aegean coast.
Michael R. Burch, after Theatetus

Everywhere the sea is the sea, the dead are the dead.
What difference to me—where I rest my head?
The sea knows I’m buried.
Michael R. Burch, after Antipater of Sidon

Constantina, inconstant one!
Once I thought your name beautiful
but I was a fool
and now you are more bitter to me than death!
You flee someone who loves you
with baited breath
to pursue someone who’s untrue.
But if you manage to make him love you,
tomorrow you'll flee him too!
Michael R. Burch, after Macedonius



Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt

Between the prophesies of morning
and twilight’s revelations of wonder,
the sky is ripped asunder.

The moon lurks in the clouds,
waiting, as if to plunder
the dusk of its lilac iridescence,

and in the bright-tentacled sunset
we imagine a presence
full of the fury of lost innocence.

What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame,
brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim,
we recognize at once, but cannot name.



The Greatest of These ...
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

The hands that held me tremble.
The arms that lifted
  fall.

Angelic flesh, now parchment,
is held together with gauze.

But her undimmed eyes still embrace me;
there infinity can be found.

I can almost believe such love
will reach me, underground.



Love Is Not Love
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Love is not love that never looked
within itself and questioned all,
curled up like a zygote in a ball,
throbbed, sobbed and shook.

(Or went on a binge at a nearby mall,
then would not cook.)

Love is not love that never winced,
then smiled, convinced
that soar’s the prerequisite of fall.

When all
its wounds and scars have been saline-rinsed,
where does Love find the wherewithal
to try again,
endeavor, when

all that it knows
is: O, because!



Stay With Me Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

Stay with me tonight;
be gentle with me as the leaves are gentle
falling to the earth.

And whisper, O my love,
how that every bright thing, though scattered afar,
retains yet its worth.

Stay with me tonight;
be as a petal long-awaited blooming in my hand.
Lift your face to mine

and touch me with your lips
till I feel the warm benevolence of your breath’s
heady fragrance like wine.

That which we had
when pale and waning as the dying moon at dawn,
outshone the sun.

And so lead me back tonight
through bright waterfalls of light
to where we shine as one.

Originally published by The Lyric



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

Note: Cassius Clay, who converted to Islam and changed his “slave name” to Muhammad Ali, said that he threw his Olympic boxing gold medal into the Ohio River. Confirming his account, the medal was recovered by Robert Bradbury and his wife Pattie in 2014 during the Annual Ohio River Sweep, and the Ali family paid them $200,000 to regain possession of the medal. When drafted during the Vietnamese War, Ali refused to serve, reputedly saying: “I ain't got no quarrel with those Viet Cong; no Vietnamese ever called me a ******.” The notice mentioned in my poem is Ali's draft notice, which metaphorically gets tossed into the river along with his slave name. I was told through the grapevine that this poem appeared in Farsi in an Iranian publication called Bashgah. ―Michael R. Burch



The Folly of Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

She is wise in the way that children are wise,
looking at me with such knowing, grave eyes
I must bend down to her to understand.
But she only smiles, and takes my hand.

We are walking somewhere that her feet know to go,
so I smile, and I follow ...

And the years are dark creatures concealed in bright leaves
that flutter above us, and what she believes―
I can almost remember―goes something like this:
the prince is a horned toad, awaiting her kiss.

She wiggles and giggles, and all will be well
if only we find him! The woodpecker’s knell
as he hammers the coffin of some dying tree
that once was a fortress to someone like me

rings wildly above us. Some things that we know
we are meant to forget. Life is a bloodletting, maple-syrup-slow.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Departed
by Michael R. Burch

Already, I miss you,
though your parting kiss is still warm on my lips.

Now the floor is not strewn with your stockings and slips
and the dishes are all stacked away.

You left me today ...
and each word left unspoken now whispers regrets.



Roses for a Lover, Idealized
by Michael R. Burch

When you have become to me
as roses bloom, in memory,
exquisite, each sharp thorn forgot,
will I recall―yours made me bleed?

When winter makes me think of you,
whorls petrified in frozen dew,
bright promises blithe spring forgot,
will I recall your words―barbed, cruel?



Ibykos Fragment 286, Circa 564 B.C.
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come spring, the grand
apple trees stand
watered by a gushing river
where the maidens’ uncut flowers shiver
and the blossoming grape vine swells
in the gathering shadows.

Unfortunately
for me
Eros never rests
but like a Thracian tempest
ablaze with lightning
emanates from Aphrodite;
the results are frightening—
black,
bleak,
astonishing,
violently jolting me from my soles
to my soul.



Deor's Lament (circa the 10th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Weland endured the agony of exile:
an indomitable smith wracked by grief.
He suffered countless sorrows;
indeed, such sorrows were his ***** companions
in that frozen island dungeon
where Nithad fettered him:
so many strong-but-supple sinew-bands
binding the better man.
That passed away; this also may.

Beadohild mourned her brothers' deaths,
bemoaning also her own sad state
once she discovered herself with child.
She knew nothing good could ever come of it.
That passed away; this also may.

We have heard the Geat's moans for Matilda,
his lovely lady, waxed limitless,
that his sorrowful love for her
robbed him of regretless sleep.
That passed away; this also may.

For thirty winters Theodric ruled
the Mæring stronghold with an iron hand;
many acknowledged his mastery and moaned.
That passed away; this also may.

We have heard too of Ermanaric's wolfish ways,
of how he cruelly ruled the Goths' realms.
That was a grim king! Many a warrior sat,
full of cares and maladies of the mind,
wishing constantly that his crown might be overthrown.
That passed away; this also may.

If a man sits long enough, sorrowful and anxious,
bereft of joy, his mind constantly darkening,
soon it seems to him that his troubles are limitless.
Then he must consider that the wise Lord
often moves through the earth
granting some men honor, glory and fame,
but others only shame and hardship.
This I can say for myself:
that for awhile I was the Heodeninga's scop,
dear to my lord. My name was Deor.
For many winters I held a fine office,
faithfully serving a just king. But now Heorrenda
a man skilful in songs, has received the estate
the protector of warriors had promised me.
That passed away; this also may.



Infatuate, or Sweet Centerless Sixteen
by Michael R. Burch

Inconsolable as “love” had left your heart,
you woke this morning eager to pursue
warm lips again, or something “really cool”
on which to press your lips and leave their mark.

As breath upon a windowpane at dawn
soon glows, a spreading halo full of sun,
your thought of love blinks wildly ... on and on ...
then fizzles at the center, and is gone.



The Toast
by Michael R. Burch

For longings warmed by tepid suns
(brief lusts that animated clay),
for passions wilted at the bud
and skies grown desolate and gray,
for stars that fell from tinseled heights
and mountains bleak and scarred and lone,
for seas reflecting distant suns
and weeds that thrive where seeds were sown,
for waltzes ending in a hush
and rhymes that fade as pages close,
for flames’ exhausted, graying ash,
and petals falling from the rose,
I raise my cup before I drink
in reverence to a love long dead,
and silently propose a toast—
to passages, to time that fled.

Originally published by Contemporary Rhyme



Veiled
by Michael R. Burch

She has belief
without comprehension
and in her crutchwork shack
she is
much like us . . .

tamping the bread
into edible forms,
regarding her children
at play
with something akin to relief . . .

ignoring the towers ablaze
in the distance
because they are not revelations
but things of glass,
easily shattered . . .

and if you were to ask her,
she might say:
sometimes God visits his wrath
upon an impious nation
for its leaders’ sins,

and we might agree:
seeing her mutilations.

Published by Poetry Super Highway and Modern War Poems.



Twice
by Michael R. Burch

Now twice she has left me
and twice I have listened
and taken her back, remembering days

when love lay upon us
and sparkled and glistened
with the brightness of dew through a gathering haze.

But twice she has left me
to start my life over,
and twice I have gathered up embers, to learn:

rekindle a fire
from ash, soot and cinder
and softly it sputters, refusing to burn.

Originally published by The Lyric



Prose Epigrams

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it.—Michael R. Burch

When I was being bullied, I had to learn not to judge myself by the opinions of intolerant morons. Then I felt much better.—Michael R. Burch

How can we predict the future, when tomorrow is as uncertain as Trump's next tweet? —Michael R. Burch

Poetry moves the heart as well as the reason.—Michael R. Burch

Poetry is the art of finding the right word at the right time.—Michael R. Burch



The State of the Art (?)
by Michael R. Burch

Has rhyme lost all its reason
and rhythm, renascence?
Are sonnets out of season
and poems but poor pretense?

Are poets lacking fire,
their words too trite and forced?
What happened to desire?
Has passion been coerced?

Shall poetry fade slowly,
like Latin, to past tense?
Are the bards too high and holy,
or their readers merely dense?



Your e-Verse
by Michael R. Burch

—for the posters and posers on www.fillintheblank.com

I cannot understand a word you’ve said
(and this despite an adequate I.Q.);
it must be some exotic new haiku
combined with Latin suddenly undead.

It must be hieroglyphics mixed with Greek.
Have Pound and T. S. Eliot been cloned?
Perhaps you wrote it on the ***, so ******
you spelled it backwards, just to be oblique.

I think you’re very funny—so, “Yuk! Yuk!”
I know you must be kidding; didn’t we
write crap like this and call it “poetry,”
a form of verbal exercise, P.E.,
in kindergarten, when we ran “amuck?”

Oh, sorry, I forgot to “make it new.”
Perhaps I still can learn a thing or two
from someone tres original, like you.



Haiku Translations of the Oriental Masters

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

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

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

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

Lightning
shatters the darkness―
the night heron's shriek
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

One apple, alone
in the abandoned orchard
reddens for winter
― Patrick Blanche, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The poem above is by a French poet; it illustrates how the poetry of Oriental masters like Basho has influenced poets around the world.

Graven images of long-departed gods,
dry spiritless leaves:
companions of the temple porch
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

See: whose surviving sons
visit the ancestral graves
white-bearded, with trembling canes?
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I remove my beautiful kimono:
its varied braids
surround and entwine my body
― Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This day of chrysanthemums
I shake and comb my wet hair,
as their petals shed rain
― Hisajo Sugita, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This darkening autumn:
my neighbor,
how does he continue?
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Let us arrange
these lovely flowers in the bowl
since there's no rice
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

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

The butterfly
perfuming its wings
fans the orchid
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Pausing between clouds
the moon rests
in the eyes of its beholders
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The first chill rain:
poor monkey, you too could use
a woven cape of straw
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This snowy morning:
cries of the crow I despise
(ah, but so beautiful!)
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Like a heavy fragrance
snow-flakes settle:
lilies on the rocks
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The cheerful-chirping cricket
contends gray autumn's gay,
contemptuous of frost
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Whistle on, twilight whippoorwill,
solemn evangelist
of loneliness
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkening,
the voices of the wild ducks:
my mysterious companions!
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Will we meet again?
Here at your flowering grave:
two white butterflies
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Fever-felled mid-path
my dreams resurrect, to trek
into a hollow land
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Too ill to travel,
now only my autumn dreams
survey these withering fields
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch; this has been called Basho's death poem

These brown summer grasses?
The only remains
of "invincible" warriors...
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

An empty road
lonelier than abandonment:
this autumn evening
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Spring has come:
the nameless hill
lies shrouded in mist
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The Oldest Haiku

These are my translations of some of the oldest Japanese waka, which evolved into poetic forms such as tanka, renga and haiku over time. My translations are excerpts from the Kojiki (the "Record of Ancient Matters"), a book composed around 711-712 A.D. by the historian and poet Ō no Yasumaro. The Kojiki relates Japan’s mythological beginnings and the history of its imperial line. Like Virgil's Aeneid, the Kojiki seeks to legitimize rulers by recounting their roots. These are lines from one of the oldest Japanese poems, found in the oldest Japanese book:

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

Here's another excerpt, with a humorous twist, from the Kojiki:

Hush, cawing crows; what rackets you make!
Heaven's indignant messengers,
you remind me of wordsmiths!
― Ō no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Here's another, this one a poem of love and longing:

Onyx, this gem-black night.
Downcast, I await your return
like the rising sun, unrivaled in splendor.
― Ō no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

More Haiku by Various Poets

Right at my feet!
When did you arrive here,
snail?
― Kobayashi Issa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Our world of dew
is a world of dew indeed;
and yet, and yet...
― Kobayashi Issa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, brilliant moon
can it be true that even you
must rush off, like us, tardy?
― Kobayashi Issa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A kite floats
at the same place in the sky
where yesterday it floated...
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The pigeon's behavior
is beyond reproach,
but the mountain cuckoo's?
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Plowing,
not a single bird sings
in the mountain's shadow
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The pear tree flowers whitely―
a young woman reads his letter
by moonlight
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

On adjacent branches
the plum tree blossoms bloom
petal by petal―love!
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Picking autumn plums
my wrinkled hands
once again grow fragrant
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Dawn!
The brilliant sun illuminates
sardine heads.
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The abandoned willow
shines
between rains
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

White plum blossoms―
though the hour grows late,
a glimpse of dawn
― Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch; this is believed to be Buson's death poem and he is said to have died before dawn

I thought I felt a dewdrop
plop
on me as I lay in bed!
― Masaoka Shiki, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

We cannot see the moon
and yet the waves still rise
― Shiki Masaoka, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The first morning of autumn:
the mirror I investigate
reflects my father’s face
― Shiki Masaoka, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Wild geese pass
leaving the emptiness of heaven
revealed
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Silently observing
the bottomless mountain lake:
water lilies
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Cranes
flapping ceaselessly
test the sky's upper limits
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Falling snowflakes'
glitter
tinsels the sea
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Blizzards here on earth,
blizzards of stars
in the sky
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Completely encircled
in emerald:
the glittering swamp!
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The new calendar!:
as if tomorrow
is assured...
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

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

Because morning glories
hold my well-bucket hostage
I go begging for water
― Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Spring
stirs the clouds
in the sky's teabowl
― Kikusha-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Tonight I saw
how the peony crumples
in the fire's embers
― Katoh Shuhson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

It fills me with anger,
this moon; it fills me
and makes me whole
― Takeshita Shizunojo, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

War
stood at the end of the hall
in the long shadows
― Watanabe Hakusen, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Because he is slow to wrath,
I tackle him, then wring his neck
in the long grass
― Shimazu Ryoh, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Pale mountain sky:
cherry petals play
as they tumble earthward
― Kusama Tokihiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The frozen moon,
the frozen lake:
two oval mirrors reflecting each other.
― Hashimoto Takako, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The bitter winter wind
ends here
with the frozen sea
― Ikenishi Gonsui, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, bitter winter wind,
why bellow so
when there's no leaves to fell?
― Natsume Sôseki, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Winter waves
roil
their own shadows
― Tominaga Fûsei, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

No sky,
no land:
just snow eternally falling...
― Kajiwara Hashin, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Along with spring leaves
my child's teeth
take root, blossom
― Nakamura Kusatao, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Stillness:
a single chestnut leaf glides
on brilliant water
― Ryuin, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As thunder recedes
a lone tree stands illuminated in sunlight:
applauded by cicadas
― Masaoka Shiki, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The snake slipped away
but his eyes, having held mine,
still stare in the grass
― Kyoshi Takahama, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Girls gather sprouts of rice:
reflections of the water flicker
on the backs of their hats
― Kyoshi Takahama, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Murmurs follow the hay cart
this blossoming summer day
― Ippekiro Nakatsuka (1887-1946), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The wet nurse
paused to consider a bucket of sea urchins
then walked away
― Ippekiro Nakatsuka (1887-1946), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

May I be with my mother
wearing her summer kimono
by the morning window
― Ippekiro Nakatsuka (1887-1946), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The hands of a woman exist
to remove the insides of the spring cuttlefish
― Sekitei Hara, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The moon
hovering above the snow-capped mountains
rained down hailstones
― Sekitei Hara, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, dreamlike winter butterfly:
a puff of white snow
cresting mountains
― Kakio Tomizawa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Spring snow
cascades over fences
in white waves
― Suju Takano, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Tanka and Waka translations:

If fields of autumn flowers
can shed their blossoms, shameless,
why can’t I also frolic here —
as fearless, and as blameless?
—Ono no Komachi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Submit to you —
is that what you advise?
The way the ripples do
whenever ill winds arise?
—Ono no Komachi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Watching wan moonlight
illuminate trees,
my heart also brims,
overflowing with autumn.
—Ono no Komachi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I had thought to pluck
the flower of forgetfulness
only to find it
already blossoming in his heart.
—Ono no Komachi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

That which men call "love" —
is it not merely the chain
preventing our escape
from this world of pain?
—Ono no Komachi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Once-colorful flowers faded,
while in my drab cell
life’s impulse also abated
as the long rains fell.
—Ono no Komachi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I set off at the shore
of the seaside of Tago,
where I saw the high, illuminated peak
of Fuji―white, aglow―
through flakes of drifting downy snow.
― Akahito Yamabe, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



ON LOOKING AT SCHILLER’S SKULL
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here in this charnel-house full of bleaching bones,
like yesteryear’s
fading souvenirs,
I see the skulls arranged in strange ordered rows.

Who knows whose owners might have beheaded peers,
packed tightly here
despite once repellent hate?
Here weaponless, they stand, in this gentled state.

These arms and hands, they once were so delicate!
How articulately
they moved! Ah me!
What athletes once paced about on these padded feet?

Still there’s no hope of rest for you, lost souls!
Deprived of graves,
forced here like slaves
to occupy this overworld, unlamented ghouls!

Now who’s to know who loved one orb here detained?
Except for me;
reader, hear my plea:
I know the grandeur of the mind it contained!

Yes, and I know the impulse true love would stir
here, where I stand
in this alien land
surrounded by these husks, like a treasurer!

Even in this cold,
in this dust and mould
I am startled by an a strange, ancient reverie, …
as if this shrine to death could quicken me!

One shape out of the past keeps calling me
with its mystery!
Still retaining its former angelic grace!
And at that ecstatic sight, I am back at sea ...

Swept by that current to where immortals race.
O secret vessel, you
gave Life its truth.
It falls on me now to recall your expressive face.

I turn away, abashed here by what I see:
this mould was worth
more than all the earth.
Let me breathe fresh air and let my wild thoughts run free!

What is there better in this dark Life than he
who gives us a sense of man’s divinity,
of his place in the universe?
A man who’s both flesh and spirit—living verse!



To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: I believe that in the second stanza the blood on Elis's forehead may be a reference to the apprehensive ****** sweat of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If my interpretation is correct, Elis hears the blackbird's cries, anticipates the danger represented by a harbinger of death, but elects to continue rather than turn back. From what I have been able to gather, the color blue had a special significance for Georg Trakl: it symbolized longing and perhaps a longing for death. The colors blue, purple and black may represent a progression toward death in the poem.



Farewell to Faith I
by Michael R. Burch

What we want is relief
from life’s grief and despair:
what we want’s not “belief”
but just not to be there.



Farewell to Faith II
by Michael R. Burch

Confronted by the awesome thought of death,
to never suffer, and be free of grief,
we wonder: "What’s the use of drawing breath?
Why seek relief
from the bible’s Thief,
who ripped off Eve then offered her a leaf?"



Anyte Epigrams

Stranger, rest your weary legs beneath the elms;
hear how coolly the breeze murmurs through their branches;
then take a bracing draught from the mountain-fed fountain;
for this is welcome shade from the burning sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here I stand, Hermes, in the crossroads
by the windswept elms near the breezy beach,
providing rest to sunburned travelers,
and cold and brisk is my fountain’s abundance.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sit here, quietly shaded by the luxuriant foliage,
and drink cool water from the sprightly spring,
so that your weary breast, panting with summer’s labors,
may take rest from the blazing sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is the grove of Cypris,
for it is fair for her to look out over the land to the bright deep,
that she may make the sailors’ voyages happy,
as the sea trembles, observing her brilliant image.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Nossis Epigrams

There is nothing sweeter than love.
All other delights are secondary.
Thus, I spit out even honey.
This is what Gnossis says:
Whom Aphrodite does not love,
Is bereft of her roses.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Most revered Hera, the oft-descending from heaven,
behold your Lacinian shrine fragrant with incense
and receive the linen robe your noble child Nossis,
daughter of Theophilis and Cleocha, has woven for you.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stranger, if you sail to Mitylene, my homeland of beautiful dances,
to indulge in the most exquisite graces of Sappho,
remember I also was loved by the Muses, who bore me and reared me there.
My name, never forget it!, is Nossis. Now go!
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pass me with ringing laughter, then award me
a friendly word: I am Rinthon, scion of Syracuse,
a small nightingale of the Muses; from their tragedies
I was able to pluck an ivy, unique, for my own use.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Excerpts from “Distaff”
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

… the moon rising …
      … leaves falling …
           … waves lapping a windswept shore …

… and our childish games, Baucis, do you remember? ...

... Leaping from white horses,
running on reckless feet through the great courtyard.  
“You’re it!’ I cried, ‘You’re the Tortoise now!”
But when your turn came to pursue your pursuers,
you darted beyond the courtyard,
dashed out deep into the waves,
splashing far beyond us …

… My poor Baucis, these tears I now weep are your warm memorial,
these traces of embers still smoldering in my heart
for our silly amusements, now that you lie ash …

… Do you remember how, as girls,
we played at weddings with our dolls,
pretending to be brides in our innocent beds? ...

... How sometimes I was your mother,
allotting wool to the weaver-women,
calling for you to unreel the thread? ...

… Do you remember our terror of the monster Mormo
with her huge ears, her forever-flapping tongue,
her four slithering feet, her shape-shifting face? ...

... Until you mother called for us to help with the salted meat ...

... But when you mounted your husband’s bed,
dearest Baucis, you forgot your mothers’ warnings!
Aphrodite made your heart forgetful ...

... Desire becomes oblivion ...

... Now I lament your loss, my dearest friend.
I can’t bear to think of that dark crypt.
I can’t bring myself to leave the house.
I refuse to profane your corpse with my tearless eyes.
I refuse to cut my hair, but how can I mourn with my hair unbound?
I blush with shame at the thought of you! …

... But in this dark house, O my dearest Baucis,
My deep grief is ripping me apart.
Wretched Erinna! Only nineteen,
I moan like an ancient crone, eying this strange distaff ...

O *****! . . . O Hymenaeus! . . .
Alas, my poor Baucis!



On a Betrothed Girl
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of Baucis the bride.
Observing her tear-stained crypt
say this to Death who dwells underground:
"Thou art envious, O Death!"

Her vivid monument tells passers-by
of the bitter misfortune of Baucis —
how her father-in-law burned the poor ******* a pyre
lit by bright torches meant to light her marriage train home.
While thou, O Hymenaeus, transformed her harmonious bridal song into a chorus of wailing dirges.

*****! O Hymenaeus!



Sophocles Epigrams

Not to have been born is best,
and blessed
beyond the ability of words to express.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s a hundred times better not be born;
but if we cannot avoid the light,
the path of least harm is swiftly to return
to death’s eternal night!
—Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Never to be born may be the biggest boon of all.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oblivion: What a blessing, to lie untouched by pain!
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The happiest life is one empty of thought.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Consider no man happy till he lies dead, free of pain at last.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What is worse than death? When death is desired but denied.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When a man endures nothing but endless miseries, what is the use of hanging on day after day,
edging closer and closer toward death? Anyone who warms his heart with the false glow of flickering hope is a wretch! The noble man should live with honor and die with honor. That's all that can be said.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Children anchor their mothers to life.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How terrible, to see the truth when the truth brings only pain to the seer!
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wisdom outweighs all the world's wealth.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Fortune never favors the faint-hearted.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wait for evening to appreciate the day's splendor.
—Sophocles (circa 497-406 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Homer Epigrams

For the gods have decreed that unfortunate mortals must suffer, while they themselves are sorrowless.
—Homer, Iliad 24.525-526, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

“It is best not to be born or, having been born, to pass on as swiftly as possible.”
—attributed to Homer (circa 800 BC), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Ancient Roman Epigrams

Wall, I'm astonished that you haven't collapsed,
since you're holding up verses so prolapsed!
—Ancient Roman graffiti, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R Burch

There is nothing so pointless, so perfidious as human life! ... The ultimate bliss is not to be born; otherwise we should speedily slip back into the original Nothingness.
—Seneca, On Consolation to Marcia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Keywords/Tags: elegy, eulogy, child, childhood, death, death of a friend, lament, lamentation, epitaph, grave, funeral, epigram, epigrams, short, brief, concise, aphorism, adage, proverb, quote, mrbepi, mrbepig, mrbepigram, mrbhaiku

Published as the collection "Epigrams"
Nigel Morgan Mar 2013
January Colours

In the winter garden
of the Villa del Parma
by the artist’s studio
green
grass turns vert de terre
and the stone walls
a wet mouse’s back
grounding neutral – but calm,
soothing like calamine
in today’s mizzle,
a permanent dimpsey,
fine drenching drizzle,
almost invisible, yet
saturating skylights
with evidence of rain.

February Colours

In the kitchen’s borrowed light,
dear Grace makes bread  
on the mahogany table,
her palma gray dress
bringing the outside in.

Whilst next door, inside
Vanessa’s garden room
the French windows
firmly shut out this
season’s bitter weather.

There, in the stone jar
beside her desk,
branches of heather;
Erica for winter’s retreat,
Calluna for spring’s expectation.

Tea awaits in Duncan’s domain.
Set amongst the books and murals,
Spode’s best bone china  
turning a porcelain pink
as the hearth’s fire burns bright..

Today
in this house
a very Bloomsbury tone,
a truly Charleston Gray.

March Colours

Not quite daffodil
Not yet spring
Lancaster Yellow
Was Nancy’s shade

For the drawing room
Walls of Kelmarsh Hall
And its high plastered ceiling
Of blue ground blue.

Playing cat’s paw
Like the monkey she was
Two drab husbands paid
For the gardens she made,
For haphazard luxuriance.

Society decorator, partner
In paper and paint,
She’d walk the grounds
Of her Palladian gem
Conjuring for the catalogue
Such ingenious labels:

Brassica and Cooking Apple
Green
to be seen
In gardens and orchards
Grown to be greens.

April Colours

It would be churlish
to expect, a folly to believe,
that green leaves would  
cover the trees just yet.

But blossom will:
clusters of flowers,
Damson white,
Cherry red,
Middleton pink,

And at the fields’ edge
Primroses dayroom yellow,
a convalescent colour
healing the hedgerows
of winter’s afflictions.

Clouds storm Salisbury Plain,
and as a skimming stone
on water, touch, rise, touch
and fall behind horizon’s rim.
Where it goes - no one knows.

Far (far) from the Madding Crowd
Hardy’s concordant cove at Lulworth
blue
by the cold sea, clear in the crystal air,
still taut with spring.

May Colours

A spring day
In Suffield Green,
The sky is cook’s blue,
The clouds pointing white.

In this village near Norwich
Lives Marcel Manouna
Thawbed and babouched
With lemurs and llamas,
Leopards and duck,
And more . . .

This small menagerie
Is Marcel’s only luxury
A curious curiosity
In a Norfolk village
Near to Norwich.

So, on this
Blossoming
Spring day
Marcel’s blue grey
Parrot James
Perched on a gate
Squawks the refrain

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!

June

Thrownware
earth red
thrown off the ****
the Japanese way.
Inside hand does the work,
keeps it alive.
Outside hand holds the clay
and critically tweaks.
Touch, press, hold, release
Scooting, patting, spin!
Centering: the act
precedes all others
on the potter’s wheel.
Centering: the day
the sun climbs highest
in our hemisphere.
And then affix the glaze
in colours of summer:
Stone blue
Cabbage white
Print-room yellow
Saxon green
Rectory red

And fire!

July Colours

I see you
by the dix blue
asters in the Grey Walk
via the Pear Pond,
a circuit of surprises
past the Witches House,
the Radicchio View,
to the beautifully manicured
Orangery lawns, then the
East and West Rills of
Gertrude’s Great Plat.

And under that pea green hat
you wear, my mistress dear,
though your face may be April
there’s July in your eyes of such grace.

I see you wander at will
down the cinder rose path
‘neath the drawing-room blue sky.

August Colours

Out on the wet sand
Mark and Sarah
take their morning stroll.
He, barefoot in a blazer,
She, linen-light in a wide-brimmed straw,
Together they survey
their (very) elegant home,
Colonial British,
Classic traditional,
a retreat in Olive County, Florida:
white sandy beaches,
playful porpoises,
gentle manatees.

It’s an everfine August day
humid and hot
in the hurricane season.
But later they’ll picnic on
Brinjal Baigan Bharta
in the Chinese Blue sea-view
dining room fashioned
by doyen designer
Leta Austin Foster
who ‘loves to bring the ocean inside.
I adore the colour blue,’ she says,
‘though gray is my favourite.’

September

A perfect day
at the Castle of Mey
beckons.
Watching the rising sun
disperse the morning mists,
the Duchess sits
by the window
in the Breakfast Room.
Green
leaves have yet to give way
to autumn colours but the air
is seasonably cool, September fresh.

William is fishing the Warriner’s Pool,
curling casts with a Highlander fly.
She waits; dressed in Power Blue
silk, Citron tights,
a shawl of India Yellow
draped over her shoulders.
But there he is, crossing the home beat,
Lucy, her pale hound at his heels,
a dead salmon in his bag.

October Colours

At Berrington
blue
, clear skies,
chill mornings
before the first frosts
and the apples ripe for picking
(place a cupped hand under the fruit
and gently ‘clunch’).

Henry Holland’s hall -
just ‘the perfect place to live’.
From the Picture Gallery
red
olent in portraits
and naval scenes,
the view looks beyond
Capability’s parkland
to Brecon’s Beacons.

At the fourteen-acre pool
trees, cane and reed
mirror in the still water
where Common Kingfishers,
blue green with fowler pink feet
vie with Grey Herons,
funereal grey,
to ruffle this autumn scene.

November Colours

In pigeon light
this damp day
settles itself
into lamp-room grey.

The trees intone
farewell farewell:
An autumnal valedictory
to reluctant leaves.

Yet a few remain
bold coloured

Porphry Pink
Fox Red
Fowler
Sudbury Yellow


hanging by a thread
they turn in the stillest air.

Then fall
Then fall

December Colours*

Green smoke* from damp leaves
float from gardens’ bonfires,
rise in the silver Blackened sky.

Close by the tall railings,
fast to lichened walls
we walk cold winter streets

to the warm world of home, where
shadows thrown by the parlour fire
dance on the wainscot, flicker from the hearth.

Hanging from our welcome door
see how incarnadine the berries are
on this hollyed wreath of polished leaves.
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Sumer is icumen in
a modern English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is an update of an old classic for those of us who suffer with hay fever and other allergies ...

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing achu!
Groweth sed
And bloweth hed
And buyeth med?
Cuccu!

Keywords/Tags: spring, summer, hay fever, seeds, pollen, med, meds, medicine, achoo, stuffy, nose, blowing, ragweed, congestion
David John Mowers  Jun 2016
Sumer
In dusty fields of summer’s end,
Ancient fallow place from time,
Once was myth it did begin…
In writing, trade, language, rhyme.
Traditional rhyme
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Temple Hymn 42: an Excerpt

to the Eresh Temple of Nisaba
by Enheduanna (circa 2285-2250 BCE)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of brilliant stars
bright with lapis stones,
you illuminate all lands!

...

The person who put this tablet together
is Enheduanna.
My king: something never created before,
did she not give birth to it?



Enheduanna, the daughter of the famous King Saragon the Great of Akkad, is the first ancient writer whose name remains known today. She appears to be the first named poet in human history and the first known author of prayers and hymns. Enheduanna, who lived circa 2285-2250 BCE, is also one of the first women we know by name. She was high priestess of the goddess Inanna (Ishtar/Astarte/Aphrodite) and the moon god Nanna (Sin) in the Sumerian city-state of Ur. Keywords/Tags: Enheduanna, translation, Eresh, Nisaba, Akkad, Sumer, Ur, Sumerian temple hymns



Temple Hymn 15
to the Gishbanda Temple of Ningishzida
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Most ancient and terrible shrine,
set deep in the mountain,
dark like a mother's womb...

Dark shrine,
like a mother's wounded breast,
blood-red and terrifying...

Though approaching through a safe-seeming field,
our hair stands on end as we near you!

Gishbanda,
like a neck-stock,
like a fine-eyed fish net,
like a foot-shackled prisoner's manacles...
your ramparts are massive,
like a trap!

But once we’re inside,
as the sun rises,
you yield widespread abundance!

Your prince
is the pure-handed priest of Inanna, heaven's Holy One,
Lord Ningishzida!

Oh, see how his thick, lustrous hair
cascades down his back!

Oh Gishbanda,
he has built this beautiful temple to house your radiance!
He has placed his throne upon your dais!



The Exaltation of Inanna: Opening Lines, an Excerpt
Nin-me-šara by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lady of all divine powers,
Lady of the all-resplendent light,
Righteous Lady clothed in heavenly radiance,
Beloved Lady of An and Uraš,
Mistress of heaven with the holy diadem,
Who loves the beautiful headdress befitting the office of her high priestess,
Powerful Mistress who has seized all seven divine powers,
My lady, you are the guardian of the seven divine powers!
You have seized the divine powers,
You hold the divine powers in your hand,
You have gathered up the divine powers,
You have clasped the divine powers to your breast!
Like a dragon you have spewed venom on foreign lands that know you not!
When you roar like Iškur at the earth, nothing can withstand you!
Like a flood descending on alien lands, O Powerful One of heaven and earth, you will teach them to fear Inanna!



Temple Hymn 7: an Excerpt
to the Kesh Temple of Ninhursag
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, high-situated Kesh,
form-shifting summit,
inspiring fear like a venomous viper!

O, Lady of the Mountains,
Ninhursag’s house was constructed on a terrifying site!

O, Kesh, like holy Aratta: your womb dark and deep,
your walls high-towering and imposing!

O, great lion of the wildlands stalking the high plains!...



Temple Hymn 17: an Excerpt
to the Badtibira Temple of Dumuzi
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of jeweled lapis illuminating the radiant bed
in the peace-inducing palace of our Lady of the Steppe!



Temple Hymn 22: an Excerpt
to the Sirara Temple of Nanshe
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house, you wild cow!
Made to conjure signs of the Divine!
You arise, beautiful to behold,
bedecked for your Mistress!



Temple Hymn 26: an Excerpt
to the Zabalam Temple of Inanna
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O house illuminated by beams of bright light,
dressed in shimmering stone jewels,
awakening the world to awe!



Temple Hymn 42: an Excerpt
to the Eresh Temple of Nisaba
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of brilliant stars
bright with lapis stones,
you illuminate all lands!

...

The person who put this tablet together
is Enheduanna.
My king: something never created before,
did she not give birth to it?



The Exaltation of Inanna: Opening Lines and Excerpts
by Enheduanna, the daughter of Sargon I of Akkad and the high priestess of the Goddess Inanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lady of all divine powers!
Lady of the resplendent light!
Righteous Lady adorned in heavenly radiance!

Beloved Lady of An and Uraš!
Hierodule of An, sun-adorned and bejeweled!
Heaven’s Mistress with the holy diadem,
Who loves the beautiful headdress befitting the office of her own high priestess!

Powerful Mistress, seizer of the seven divine powers!
My Heavenly Lady, guardian of the seven divine powers!
You have seized the seven divine powers!
You hold the divine powers in your hand!
You have gathered together the seven divine powers!
You have clasped the divine powers to your breast!

You have flooded the valleys with venom, like a viper;
all vegetation vanishes when you thunder like Iškur!
You have caused the mountains to flood the valleys!
When you roar like that, nothing on earth can withstand you!

Like a flood descending on floodplains, O Powerful One, you will teach foreigners to fear Inanna!

You have given wings to the storm, O Beloved of Enlil!
The storms do your bidding, blasting the unbelievers!

Foreign cities cower at the chaos You cause!
Entire countries cower in dread of Your deadly South Wind!
Men cower before you in their anguished implications,
raising their pitiful outcries,
weeping and wailing, beseeching Your benevolence with many wild lamentations!

But in the van of battle, everything falls before You, O Mighty Queen!

My Queen,
You are all-conquering, all-devouring!
You continue Your attacks like relentless storms!
You howl louder than the howling storms!
You thunder louder than Iškur!
You moan louder than the mournful winds!
Your feet never tire from trampling Your enemies!
You produce much wailing on the lyres of lamentations!

My Queen,
all the Anunna, the mightiest Gods,
fled before Your approach like fluttering bats!
They could not stand in Your awesome Presence
nor behold Your awesome Visage!

Who can soothe Your infuriated heart?
Your baleful heart is beyond being soothed!

Uncontrollable Wild Cow, elder daughter of Sin,
O Majestic Queen, greater than An,
who has ever paid You enough homage?

O Life-Giving Goddess, possessor of all powers,
Inanna the Exalted!

Merciful, Live-Giving Mother!
Inanna, the Radiant of Heart!
I have exalted You in accordance with Your power!
I have bowed before You in my holy garb,
I the En, I Enheduanna!

Carrying my masab-basket, I once entered and uttered my joyous chants ...

But now I no longer dwell in Your sanctuary.
The sun rose and scorched me.
Night fell and the South Wind overwhelmed me.
My laughter was stilled and my honey-sweet voice grew strident.
My joy became dust.

O Sin, King of Heaven, how bitter my fate!

To An, I declared: An will deliver me!
I declared it to An: He will deliver me!

But now the kingship of heaven has been seized by Inanna,
at Whose feet the floodplains lie.

Inanna the Exalted,
who has made me tremble together with all Ur!

Stay Her anger, or let Her heart be soothed by my supplications!
I, Enheduanna will offer my supplications to Inanna,
my tears flowing like sweet intoxicants!
Yes, I will proffer my tears and my prayers to the Holy Inanna,
I will greet Her in peace ...

O My Queen, I have exalted You,
Who alone are worthy to be exalted!
O My Queen, Beloved of An,
I have laid out Your daises,
set fire to the coals,
conducted the rites,
prepared Your nuptial chamber.
Now may Your heart embrace me!

These are my innovations,
O Mighty Queen, that I made for You!
What I composed for You by the dark of night,
The cantor will chant by day.

Now Inanna’s heart has been restored,
and the day became favorable to Her.
Clothed in beauty, radiant with joy,
she carried herself like the elegant moonlight.

Now to the Noble Hierodule,
to the Wrecker of foreign lands
presented by An with the seven divine powers,
and to my Queen garbed in the radiance of heaven ...

O Inanna, praise!



The Love Song Of Shu-Sin
(the earth's oldest love poem, Sumerian, circa 2,000 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Darling of my heart, my belovéd,
your enticements are sweet, far sweeter than honey.
Darling of my heart, my belovéd,
your enticements are sweet, far sweeter than honey.

You have captivated me; I stand trembling before you.
Darling, lead me swiftly into the bedroom!
You have captivated me; I stand trembling before you.
Darling, lead me swiftly into the bedroom!

Sweetheart, let me do the sweetest things to you!
My precocious caress is far sweeter than honey!
In the bedchamber, dripping love's honey,
let us enjoy life's sweetest thing.
Sweetheart, let me do the sweetest things to you!
My precocious caress is far sweeter than honey!

Bridegroom, you will have your pleasure with me!
Speak to my mother and she will reward you;
speak to my father and he will award you gifts.
I know how to give your body pleasure—
then sleep, my darling, till the sun rises.

To prove that you love me,
give me your caresses,
my Lord God, my guardian Angel and protector,
my Shu-Sin, who gladdens Enlil's heart,
give me your caresses!
My place like sticky honey, touch it with your hand!
Place your hand over it like a honey-*** lid!
Cup your hand over it like a honey cup!

This is a balbale-song of Inanna.

This may be earth's oldest love poem. It may have been written around 2000 BC, long before the Bible's "Song of Solomon, " which had been considered to be the oldest extant love poem by some experts. The poem was discovered when the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard began excavations at Kalhu in 1845, assisted by Hormuzd Rassam. Layard's account of the excavations, published in 1849 CE, was titled Nineveh and its Remains. Due to Nineveh's fame (from the Bible) , the book became a best seller. But it turned out that the excavated site was not Nineveh, after all, as Layard later discovered when he excavated the real Nineveh.

As a surrogate for Inanna, the bride's mother would be either Ninlil or possibly Ningal, both goddesses.

As a surrogate for Inanna, the bride's father would be either Enlil or possibly Suen, both gods.

Shu-Sin was a Mesopotamian king who ruled over the land of Sumer close to four thousand years ago. The poem seems to be part of a rite, probably performed each year, known as the "sacred marriage" or "divine marriage, " in which the king would symbolically marry the goddess Inanna, mate with her, and so ensure fertility and prosperity for the coming year. The king would accomplish this amazing feat by marrying and/or having *** with a priestess or votary of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility and war. Her Akkadian name was Istar/Ishtar, and she was also known as Astarte. Whichever her name, she was the most prominent Mesopotamian female goddess. Inanna's primary temple was the Eanna, located in Uruk. But there were many other temples dedicated to her worship. The high priestess would choose a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, the consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year)ceremony, at the spring Equinox. The name Inanna derives from the Sumerian words for "Lady of Heaven." She was associated with the lion-a symbol of power-and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her symbol was an eight-pointed star or a rosette. Like other female love and fertility goddesses, she was associated with the planet Venus. The Enlil mentioned was Inanna's father, the Sumerian storm god, who controlled the wind and rain. (According to some god/goddess genealogies, Enlil was her grandfather.)In an often-parched land, the rain god would be ultra-important, and it appears that one of the objects of the "divine marriage" was to please Enlil and encourage him to send rain rather than destructive storms! Enlil was similar to the Bible's Jehovah, in that he was the supreme deity, and sometimes sent rain and plenty, but at other times sent war and destruction. Certain passages of the Bible appear to have been "borrowed" by the ancient Hebrews from much older Sumerian texts such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Such accounts include the creation myth, the Garden of Eden myth, and the myth of the Great Flood and a mankind-saving ark. However, the Hebrew scribes modified the accounts to suit their theology, so in the Bible there is only one "god" who controls everything, and thus behaves like an angel at times and like a demon at others. And that is understandable if one posits that one god controls the weather, since earth's weather is unpredictable and at times seems like a blessing and at other times like a curse.



Keywords/Tags: Enheduanna, Poetess, Sumer, Sumerian, Akkad, Akkadian, Saragon, Ur, High Priestess, Hymn, Hymns, Hymnist, Psalm, Psalms, Psalmist, Prayer, Prayers, Lament, Lamentations, Goddess, Nanna, Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite, Sauska, Ornament of Heaven, mrbtr, mrbtran, mrbhymn
PEARL PSYNATCH Jul 2019
(for Nietzche, who cowers behind art.)

The world calls the conquered ******
to remember that the sun every night yearns

to rise, to rise, to rise

when there is no guarantee, no promise, no sure thing.
Yet still it yearns

to rise, to rise, to rise.

The world called Canaanites ******
while they traded and toiled along the shores
of land promised to the aged heretic of Sumer,
whose wife could give only love.

The world called Hebrews ******
while they raised Pharoah tombs
Provided respite from the eastern chariots
Stubborn in refusal of the living gods
Drinking only Eloheim's bitter grape
That provides brief respite from his decrees
When delving deep in one's cups.

The world called Britons ******
When flogged Boudicea fought and fought and finally fell
To Roman spear and gladius
When Angles and Saxons raided then stayed
When Cromwell climbed the pale cliffs

The world called the Iberians, Gauls and Teutons ******
when Caesar crossed the Rubicon
Pax Romana for Citizens born
Land for the wealthy, voting rights too
Taxes and tithes from their toil.

The world called the Khoikhoi of South Africa ******
From the VOC to fatal Apartheid
Up rose a man
The heart of the land
A man named Nelson Mandela.

The world called the Viet Minh ******
from Can Vong to Dien Bien Phu
'till they slogged howitzers above
to reign Napoleonic terror below.
And to them it was just
The American War
After the world called them
Vietnamese.

The world calls the conquered ******
to remember that the sun every day yearns

to rise, to rise, to rise

When there is no guarantee, no promise, no sure thing
yet still it yearns

to rise, to rise, to rise

'though it never watches its own rising
undoing raiment of fading embers
swimming naked in the royal blue
bathing all with daily newborn naked glory
chasing the celestial tidal tease
that seems to wander where it please
reminding that all are born free
but can grow into ignorance
and be called ******.

Seek truths
that hold in unity;
that provide nourishment
beneath the lash
allowing one

to rise, to rise, to rise.
Reece Sep 2013
How ironic that one would take it seriously
With this new sincerity hanging so precariously
Satirical words, balanced in a peculiar fashion
Overtly reminiscent of a post-modern passion
And you, who read this, please be aware
To all other poets I simply cannot compare
Proletariat boy with too much time to spare
With this piece it's time that I declare
My mind is in a sullen state of disrepair
Always be aware, that I was never here.
Was it luck as I was awe-struck?
It is said that these gleaming falling stars are UFOs
It is also said that at times when UFOs land they then become IFOs... They come to fetch a king as the king dies
Sending him home to distant skies

OR was it merely a sign that the Pleiadians have landed?
Or other races beyond, from Lyra to Procyon
not to mention the bellicose Orions
we wouldn't see this of course
as all that would be would be what isn't and what isn't would be what it truly is
Living in Alice and her wonderland
We see politics and earthly government
but the point is to hide exo-politics, Councils and Houses

We would be asleep when the unseen god is an emperor of just one constellation
We would be asleep as the centre of the Universe serenades Gaia
We wouldn't see as Nihahua engages Sol
We wouldn't see as Tiamat rises to the fourth dimension for we would think we are asleep

We would think of raptures holy as they are protocol to transport souls to other planets
Yes advanced some are as they are 4D others even 5D
and a means of exchange not being money
so that makes our planet a child you see
These things you wouldn't know as they are cleared by the MIB's
These things you wouldn't know when mediums or channelers form religions
These things you wouldn't as hybrids and starseeds form religions
These things would seem ridiculous for you are programmed
You wouldn't know what to believe for restricted are tools to examine
You wouldn't know what to concoct when access to information is limited
It said some serve the upliftment of humanity
I'm talking about the Andromeda Council and Christos Council

From Babylon to Rome
Or was it from Atlantis to Mu then Ur? Before the Annunaki went to Sumer
From Rome to the whole world
Was it Nibiru which heaven was?
Are we really living in Star Wars?
Are we ruled by Star Lords?

Are we humans trying not to be aliens?
Or are we aliens trying to be human?
The strongest angel ever created, the weakest
a sad day in heaven
the angel of light then brought darkness
Not a mystery why light is sought after and its essence

I saw a falling star
Some are abducted, sexually indulged and barred
They are ridiculed in society as they are told that's how insanity starts
There are people who go missing in caverns, not knowing that they would be genetically manipulated and brainwashed
There are communicators of divine knowledge
They are called lunatics who feed ludicrous knowledge
We wouldn't know the difference for we are trapped in matter
We wouldn't care for the physical is all that would matter
From the Els to the Yahweh consciousness
From the Serpent gods to Sorcerer kings and Priest kings
Do we know where it all started?

Religion would be coded astronomy
The movement of stars, astrology
if we knew the galactic anthropology
We wouldn't think we are alone
Science fiction would present technology
Linear time would be no more
Wormholes the doors
The Ark of The Covenant a device used as a good weapon
We would know all and more of this if we saw more falling stars
We would know more of this if we weren't kept busy by the masters
We would know more of this if we stopped thinking we are free
Then we'd know who we are and where we are going
to that place of all knowing.
Listen to Niribu by TaMarah #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/tamarah-taesee/niribu
Timothy Clarke Dec 2010
On the day the summer ended, he was full of joy
And he danced of his joy.
He danced, and ran and tumbled on the grass,
And he danced like he never had before.

On the day the summer ended, he was full of life,
And he danced of his life.
He sang, and jumped and spun in the sun,
And the music beat in his heart.

On the day the summer ended, he was full of love,
And he danced of his love.
He wanted everyone to share his love and be with him,
And he danced on and on without thought.

On the day the summer ended, he was full of innocence,
And I danced for his innocence.
I loved him for who he was, free and alive.
And we danced until the summer was gone.

— The End —