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Elkhan Asgar Jan 13
Mənə hər bir şeydən əziz sənə mən,
Şeir həsr etməyə qorxuram, birdən,
Oxuyub, məndən də gənc, layiqli biri,
Səni mən tək sevər, mən kimi qəlbdən.
* * *
Mənə hər bir şeydən doğma səni mən,
Vəsf etməyə qorxdum, sevən kəs birdən,
Öz sevdiciyinə eşqin bildirər,
Səninçün tapdığım gözəl sözlərdən.
Michael R Burch Apr 2021
MICHELANGELO: Modern English Translations

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) is considered by many experts to be the greatest artist and sculptor of all time. These are modern English translations of his poems and epigrams by Michael R. Burch.



SONNET: RAVISHED
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ravished, by all our eyes find fine and fair,
yet starved for virtues pure hearts might confess,
my soul can find no Jacobean stair
that leads to heaven, save earth's loveliness.
The stars above emit such rapturous light
our longing hearts ascend on beams of Love
and seek, indeed, Love at its utmost height.
But where on earth does Love suffice to move
a gentle heart, or ever leave it wise,
save for beauty itself and the starlight in her eyes?



SONNET: TO LUIGI DEL RICCIO, AFTER THE DEATH OF CECCHINO BRACCI
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A pena prima.

I had barely seen the beauty of his eyes
Which unto yours were life itself, and light,
When he closed them fast in death's eternal night
To reopen them on God, in Paradise.

In my tardiness, I wept, too late made wise,
Yet the fault not mine: for death's disgusting ploy
Had robbed me of that deep, unfathomable joy
Which in your loving memory never dies.

Therefore, Luigi, since the task is mine
To make our unique friend smile on in stone
Forever, brightening what dark earth would dim,
And because the beloved causes love to shine,

And since the artist cannot work alone,
I must carve you, to tell the world of him!


SONNET: BEAUTY AND THE ARTIST
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Al cor di zolfo.

A heart aflame; alas, the flesh not so;
Bones brittle wood; the soul without a guide
To curb the will’s inferno; the crude pride
Of restless passions’ pulsing surge and flow;
A witless mind that ? halt, lame, weak ? must go
Blind through entrapments scattered far and wide; ...
Why wonder then, when one small spark applied
To such an assemblage renders it aglow?

Add beauteous Art, which, Heaven-Promethean,
Must exceed nature ? so divine a power
Belongs to the one who strives with every nerve.
Created for such Art, from childhood given
As prey for her wild Inferno to devour,
I blame the Mistress I was born to serve.



SONNET XVI: LOVE AND ART
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sì come nella penna.

Just as with pen and ink,
there is a high, a low, and an in-between style;
and, as marble yields its images pure and vile
to excite the fancies artificers might think;
even so, my lord, lodged deep within your heart
are mingled pride and mild humility;
but I draw only what I truly see
when I trust my eyes and otherwise stand apart.

Whoever sows the seeds of tears and sighs
(bright dews that fall from heaven, crystal-clear)
in various pools collects antiquities
and so must reap old griefs through misty eyes;
while the one who dwells on beauty, so painful here,
finds ephemeral hopes and certain miseries.



SONNET XXXI: LOVE'S LORDSHIP, TO TOMMASO DE' CAVALIERI
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A che più debb' io.

Why should I confess my desire
with copious tears and windy words of grief,
when a merciless heaven offers no relief
to souls consumed by fire?
Why should my aching heart aspire
to death, when all must die? Beyond belief
would be a death both delectable and brief,
since in my compound woes all joys expire!

Therefore, because I cannot dodge the blow,
I rather seek whoever rules my breast,
to glide between her gladness and my woe.
If only chains and bonds can make me blessed,
no marvel if alone and bare I go
to face the foe: her captive slave oppressed.



Michelangelo Epigram Translations
loose translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

I saw the angel in the marble and freed him.
I hewed away the coarse walls imprisoning the lovely apparition.
Each stone contains a statue; it is the sculptor’s task to release it.
The danger is not aiming too high and missing, but aiming too low and hitting the mark.
Our greatness is only bounded by our horizons.
Be at peace, for God did not create us to abandon us.
God grant that I always desire more than my capabilities.
My soul’s staircase to heaven is earth’s loveliness.
I live and love by God’s peculiar light.
Trifles create perfection, yet perfection is no trifle.
Genius is infinitely patient, and infinitely painstaking.
I have never found salvation in nature; rather I love cities.
He who follows will never surpass.
Beauty is what lies beneath superfluities.
I criticize via creation, not by fault-finding.
If you knew how hard I worked, you wouldn’t call it “genius.”

Keywords/Tags: Michelangelo, Italian sonnet, sonnet, sonnets, epigram, epigrams, epitaph, translation, translations, English, love, affinity and love, love and art, beauty, art, artistic work, light
Michael R Burch Feb 2021
These are modern English translations of the "Xenia" epigrams written in collaboration by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller.

#2 - Love Poetry

She says an epigram’s too terse
to reveal her tender heart in verse ...
but really, darling, ain’t the thrill
of a kiss much shorter still?
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#5 - Criticism

Why don’t I openly criticize the man? Because he’s a friend;
thus I reproach him in silence, as I do my own heart.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#11 - Holiness

What is holiest? This heart-felt love
binding spirits together, now and forever.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#12 - Love versus Desire

You love what you have, and desire what you lack
because a rich nature expands, while a poor one retracts.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#19 - Nymph and Satyr

As shy as the trembling doe your horn frightens from the woods,
she flees the huntsman, fainting, uncertain of love.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#20 - Desire

What stirs the ******’s heaving ******* to sighs?
What causes your bold gaze to brim with tears?
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#23 - The Apex I

Everywhere women yield to men, but only at the apex
do the manliest men surrender to femininity.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#24 - The Apex II

What do we mean by the highest? The crystalline clarity of triumph
as it shines from the brow of a woman, from the brow of a goddess.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#25 -Human Life

Young sailors brave the sea beneath ten thousand sails
while old men drift ashore on any bark that avails.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#35 - Dead Ahead

What’s the hardest thing of all to do?
To see clearly with your own eyes what’s ahead of you.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#36 - Unexpected Consequence

Friends, before you utter the deepest, starkest truth, please pause,
because straight away people will blame you for its cause.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#41 - Earth vs. Heaven

By doing good, you nurture humanity;
but by creating beauty, you scatter the seeds of divinity.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Keyword/Tags: Goethe, Schiller, epitaph, epigram, German, Germany, translation, love, kiss, friendship, desire, holy, holiness, earth, heaven, beauty, divinity, nature, spirit
Michael R Burch Nov 2020
Turkish Poetry Translations

Attilâ İlhan (1925-2005) was a Turkish poet, translator, novelist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, essayist, reviewer, socialist and intellectual.

Ben Sana Mecburum: “You are indispensable”
by Attila Ilhan
translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you―no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...

Perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?



Fragments
by Attila Ilhan
loose English translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch



The night is a cloudy-feathered owl,
its quills like fine-spun glass.

It gazes out the window,
perched on my right shoulder,
its wings outspread and huge.

If the encroaching darkness seems devastating at first glance,
the sovereign of everything,
its reach infinite ...

Still somewhere within a kernel of light glows secretly
creating an enlightened forest of dialectics.



In September’s waning days one thinks wanly of the arrival of fall
like a ship appearing on the horizon with untrimmed, tattered sails;
for some unfathomable reason fall is the time to consider one’s own demise―
the body smothered by yellowed leaves like a corpse rotting in a ghoulish photograph ...



Bitter words
crack like whips
snapping across prison yards ...

Then there are words like pomegranate trees in bloom,
words like the sun igniting the sea beyond mountainous horizons,
flashing like mysterious knives ...

Such words are the burning roses of an infinite imagination;
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies;
we carry those words in our hearts like pregnant shotguns until the day we expire,
martyred for the words we were prepared to die for ...



What I wrote and what you understood? Curious and curiouser!


Mehmet Akif Ersoy: Modern English Translations of Turkish Poems

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873-1936) was a Turkish poet, author, writer, academic, member of parliament, and the composer of the Turkish National Anthem.



Snapshot
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth’s least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows,
how long will the darkness remember you?



Zulmü Alkislayamam
"I Can’t Applaud Tyranny"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I can't condone cruelty; I will never applaud the oppressor;
Yet I can't renounce the past for the sake of deluded newcomers.
When someone curses my ancestors, I want to strangle them,
Even if you don’t.
But while I harbor my elders,
I refuse to praise their injustices.
Above all, I will never glorify evil, by calling injustice “justice.”
From the day of my birth, I've loved freedom;
The golden tulip never deceived me.
If I am nonviolent, does that make me a docile sheep?
The blade may slice, but my neck resists!
When I see someone else's wound, I suffer a great hardship;
To end it, I'll be whipped, I'll be beaten.
I can't say, “Never mind, just forget it!” I'll mind,
I'll crush, I'll be crushed, I'll uphold justice.
I'm the foe of the oppressor, the friend of the oppressed.
What the hell do you mean, with your backwardness?



Çanakkale Sehitlerine
"For the Çanakkale Martyrs"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Was there ever anything like the Bosphorus war?―
The earth’s mightiest armies pressing Marmara,
Forcing entry between her mountain passes
To a triangle of land besieged by countless vessels.
Oh, what dishonorable assemblages!
Who are these Europeans, come as rapists?
Who, these braying hyenas, released from their reeking cages?
Why do the Old World, the New World, and all the nations of men
now storm her beaches? Is it Armageddon? Truly, the whole world rages!
Seven nations marching in unison!
Australia goose-stepping with Canada!
Different faces, languages, skin tones!
Everything so different, but the mindless bludgeons!
Some warriors Hindu, some African, some nameless, unknown!
This disgraceful invasion, baser than the Black Death!
Ah, the 20th century, so noble in its own estimation,
But all its favored ones nothing but a parade of worthless wretches!
For months now Turkish soldiers have been vomited up
Like stomachs’ retched contents regarded with shame.
If the masks had not been torn away, the faces would still be admired,
But the ***** called civilization is far from blameless.
Now the ****** demand the destruction of the doomed
And thus bring destruction down on their own heads.
Lightning severs horizons!
Earthquakes regurgitate the bodies of the dead!
Bombs’ thunderbolts explode brains,
rupture the ******* of brave soldiers.
Underground tunnels writhe like hell
Full of the bodies of burn victims.
The sky rains down death, the earth swallows the living.
A terrible blizzard heaves men violently into the air.
Heads, eyes, torsos, legs, arms, chins, fingers, hands, feet ...
Body parts rain down everywhere.
Coward hands encased in armor callously scatter
Floods of thunderbolts, torrents of fire.
Men’s chests gape open,
Beneath the high, circling vulture-like packs of the air.
Cannonballs fly as frequently as bullets
Yet the heroic army laughs at the hail.
Who needs steel fortresses? Who fears the enemy?
How can the shield of faith not prevail?
What power can make religious men bow down to their oppressors
When their stronghold is established by God?
The mountains and the rocks are the bodies of martyrs! ...
For the sake of a crescent, oh God, many suns set, undone!
Dear soldier, who fell for the sake of this land,
How great you are, your blood saves the Muslims!
Only the lions of Bedr rival your glory!
Who then can dig the grave wide enough to hold you. and your story?
If we try to consign you to history, you will not fit!
No book can contain the eras you shook!
Only eternities can encompass you! ...
Oh martyr, son of the martyr, do not ask me about the grave:
The prophet awaits you now, his arms flung wide open, to save!



Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)

by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring ...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.



Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.



The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

My mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!

Translator’s notes: “Slavic grief” because Beyatli wrote this poem while in Warsaw, serving as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, in 1927. Tanburi Cemil Bey was a Turkish composer.



Thinking of you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thinking of you is beautiful, hopeful―
like listening to the most beautiful songs
sung by the earth's most beautiful voices.
But hope is insufficient for me now;
I don't want to listen to songs.
I want to sing love into birth.



I love you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love you―
like dipping bread into salt and eating;
like waking at night with a raging fever
and thirstily lapping up water, my mouth to the silver tap;
like unwrapping the unwieldy box the postman delivers,
unable to guess what's inside,
feeling fluttery, happy, doubtful.
I love you―
like flying over the sea the first time
as something stirs within me
while the sky softly darkens over Istanbul.
I love you―
as men thank God gratefully for life.



Sparrow
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparrow,
perched on the clothesline,
do you regard me with pity?
Even so, I will watch you
soar away through the white spring leaves.



The Divan of the Lover

the oldest extant Turkish poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All the universe as one great sign is shown:
God revealed in his creative acts unknown.
Who sees or understands them, jinn or men?
Such works lie far beyond mere mortals’ ken.
Nor can man’s mind or reason reach that strand,
Nor mortal tongue name Him who rules that land.
Since He chose nothingness with life to vest,
who dares to trouble God with worms’ behests?
For eighteen thousand worlds, lain end to end,
Do not with Him one atom's worth transcend!



Fragment
by Prince Jem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Behold! The torrent, dashing against the rocks, flails wildly.
The entire vast realm of Space and Being oppresses my soul idly.
Through bitterness of grief and woe the sky has rent its morning robe.
Look! See how in its eastern palace, the sun is a ****** globe!
The clouds of heaven rain bright tears on the distant mountain peaks.
Oh, hear how the deeply wounded thunder slowly, mournfully speaks!



Keywords/Tags: Turkish, poetry, translations, Turkey, Attila Ilhan, Ersoy, Beyatli, Nazim Hikmet, Prince Jem, Divan, Istanbul, mrbtran

Published as the collection "Turkish Poetry Translations"
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Nida Fazli translations



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?

Original Poem:

Apni Marzi se kahan apne safar ke hum hain,
Rukh hawaaon ka jidhar ka hai udhar ke hum hain.
Waqt ke saath mitti ka safar sadiyon se,
Kisko maaloom kahan ke hain kidhar ke hum hain.



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.



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



Keywords/Tags: Urdu, translation, translations, love, heart, state, life, death, destiny, fate, breath, mrburdu
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Miraji: Urdu Epigram translations

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

Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
when my life has come and gone,
when I am dead and done,
perhaps someone
                            hearing again in a distant spring
will echo my songs
the world over.
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation 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! Keywords/Tags: Urdu, translation, translations, God, mercy, dance, prophecy, song, songs, world, mrburdu
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
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.



Keywords/Tags: Urdu, translation, translations, God, heart, eyes, sight, madman, moon, stars, tears, pearls, mrburdu
Michael R Burch May 2020
Mayan Poetry Translations

The Receiving of the Flower
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us sing overflowing with joy
as we observe the Receiving of the Flower.
The lovely maidens beam;
their hearts leap in their *******.

Why?

Because they will soon yield their virginity to the men they love!

###

The Deflowering
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Remove your clothes;
let down your hair;
become as naked as the day you were born—

virgins!

###

Prelude to *******
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lay out your most beautiful clothes,
maidens!
The day of happiness has arrived!

Grab your combs, detangle your hair,
adorn your earlobes with gaudy pendants.
Dress in white as becomes maidens ...

Then go, give your lovers the happiness of your laughter!
And all the village will rejoice with you,
for the day of happiness has arrived!

###

The Flower-Strewn Pool
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have arrived at last in the woods
where no one can see what you do
at the flower-strewn pool ...

Remove your clothes,
unbraid your hair,
become as you were
when you first arrived here,

virgins, maidens!

These are my modern English translations of ancient Mayan love poems. Native Americans were creating poems and songs in pre-Columbian days; Mayan and Aztec literature may date back to the first millennium BCE. Unfortunately the Spanish conquerors of South America destroyed all but four of the thousands of pre-Columbian books that probably once existed (according to translator Michael Coe). Mayan hieroglyphs remain far from fully understood and dating what remains is difficult. However, the best poetry is timeless and I believe we can know our Mayan brothers and sisters a little better through their poems.—Michael R. Burch
These are my modern English translations of ancient Mayan love poems. Native Americans were creating poems and songs in pre-Columbian days; Mayan and Aztec literature may date back to the first millennium BCE. Unfortunately the Spanish conquerors of South America destroyed all but four of the thousands of pre-Columbian books that probably once existed (according to translator Michael Coe). Mayan hieroglyphs remain far from fully understood and dating what remains is difficult. However, the best poetry is timeless and I believe we can know our Mayan brothers and sisters a little better through their poems.—Michael R. Burch

Keywords/Tags: ancient, Mayan, poetry, translation, translations, love, virginity, ***, marriage, joy, happiness, flower, flowers, deflowering, clothes, hair, ******, nakedness
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Mirza Ghalib Translations

Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) is considered to be one of the best Urdu poets of all time. The last great poet of the Mughal Empire, Ghalib was a master of the sher (couplet) and the ghazal (a lyric poem formed from couplets). Ghalib remains popular in India, Pakistan, and among the Hindustani diaspora. He also wrote poetry in Persian.

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?



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.



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
and we might have pronounced you a saint ...
Yes, if only we hadn't found
you drunk
as a skunk!



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:
that this weakness has not 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!



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

Ten thousand desires: each worth dying for ...
So many fulfilled, 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.



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

Love requires patience but lust is relentless;
what colors must my heart leak, before it bleeds to death?



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 everything 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!



Shared Blessings
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Drunk on love, I made her my God.
She soon informed me that God does not belong to any one 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 depart your paradise.



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?
Thus 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.


Bleedings
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Love requires patience while passion races;
must my heart bleed constantly before it expires?


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

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


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

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


Exiles
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

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


A lifetime of sighs scarcely reveals its effects,
yet how impatiently I wait for you to untangle your hair!
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Every wave conceals monsters,
and yet teardrops become pearls.
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


I’ll only wish ill on myself today,
for when I wished for good, bad came my way.
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


People don’t change, it’s just that their true colors are revealed.
—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!
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


Oh naïve heart, what will become of you?
Is there no relief for your pain? What will you do?
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


I get that Ghalib is not much,
but when a slave comes free, what’s the problem?
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


My face lights up whenever I see my lover;
now she thinks my illness has been cured!
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


I you want to hear rhetoric flower,
hand me the wine decanter.
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


I tease her, but she remains tight-lipped ...
if only she'd sipped a little wine!
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


While you may not ignore me,
I’ll be ashes before you understand me.
—Mirza Ghalib, loose translation by Michael R. Burch


Keywords/Tags: Mirza Ghalib, translations, Urdu, Hindi, love, philosophy, heart, stone, sainthood
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Yamaguchi Seishi Haiku Translations by Michael R. Burch

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

Published by Haiku Universe, Carpe Diem Haiku, Adas Poetry Alcove, HaikuViet, Form in Formless Times, Purple Pen in Portland

This appears to be one of my most popular translations on the Internet. A google search for the entire haiku text turned up nearly 8,000 results. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting!

Ceaseless chaos―
ice floes clash
in the Soya straits.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Having crossed the sea,
winter winds can never return.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

(The haiku above was written in October 1944 as Kamikaze pilots were flying out to sea.)

Banish the snow
for the human torpedo
now lies exploded.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The sky hangs low
over Karafuto,
as white as the spawning herring.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Green bottle flies
buzzing carrion—
did they just materialize?
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Finally
the cicadas stopped shrilling—
summer gale.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As grief becomes unbearable
someone snaps a nearby branch.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As grief reaches its breaking point
someone snaps a nearby branch.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Trapped in the spider’s web
the firefly’s bulb
blinks out forever.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Trapped in the spider’s web
the firefly’s light
is swiftly consumed.
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Keywords/Tags:  Yamaguchi Seishi, haiku, translations, Japanese, grass, grasses, wilt, locomotive, train
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