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LC Oct 2021
brow creases lightly
piano sings a soothing song -
fingers in their turf.
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Martial "Erotion" translation

Erotion (I)
by Martial
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To you, my departed parents, dear mother and father,
I commend my little lost angel, Erotion, love’s daughter.
who died six days short of completing her sixth frigid winter.
Protect her now, I pray, should the chilling dark shades appear;
muzzle hell’s three-headed hound, less her heart be dismayed!
Lead her to romp in some sunny Elysian glade,
her devoted patrons. Watch her play childish games
as she excitedly babbles and lisps my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was surely no burden to you!

Erotion (II)
by Martial
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To you, my departed parents, with much emotion,
I commend my little lost darling, my much-kissed Erotion,
who died six days short of completing her sixth bitter winter.
Protect her, I pray, from hell’s hound and its dark shades a-flitter;
and please don’t let fiends leave her maiden heart dismayed!
But lead her to romp in some happy Elysian glade
with her cherished friends, excitedly lispingly my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was such a slight burden to you!
—Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

NOTES: Martial wrote this touching elegy for a little slave girl, Erotion, who died six days before her sixth birthday. The poem has been nominated as Martial’s masterpiece by L. J. Lloyd and others. Erotion means “little love” and may correspond to our term “love child.” It has been suggested that Erotion may have been Martial’s child by a female slave. That could explain why Martial is asking  his parents’ spirits to welcome, guide and watch over  spirit. Martial uses the terms patronos (patrons) and commendo (commend); in Rome a freed slave would be commended to a patron. A girl freed from slavery by death might need patrons as protectors on the “other side,” according to Greek and Roman views of the afterlife, where the afterworld houses evil shades and is guarded by a monstrous three-headed dog, Cerebus. Martial is apparently asking his parents to guide the girl’s spirit away from Cerebus and the dark spirits to the heavenly Elysian fields where she can play and laugh without fear. If I am correct, Martial’s poem is not just an elegy, but a prayer-poem for protection, perhaps of his own daughter. Albert A. Bell supports this hypothesis with the following arguments: (1) Martial had Erotion cremated, a practice preferred by the upper classes, (2) “he buried her with the full rites befitting the child of a Roman citizen,” (3) he entrusted her [poetically] to his parents, and (4) he maintained her grave for years.

Keywords/Tags: Martial, translation, Latin, Erotion, daughter, slave, six years old, turf, bones, earth, burden, patrons, shades
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Whan the turuf is thy tour
anonymous Middle English poem, circa the 13th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
only sullen worms shall note.
What help unto you, then
was all your worldly hope?


Original Middle English text:

Whan the turuf is thy tour,
And thy pit is thy bour,
Thy fel and thy whitë throtë
Shullen wormës to notë.
What helpëth thee thennë
Al the worildë wennë?

“Whan the turuf is thy tour” may be one of the oldest carpe diem (“seize the day”) poems in the English language, and an ancestor of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” with its virginity-destroying worms. Keywords/Tags: Middle English, translation, medieval, anonymous, rhyme, rhyming, medieval, lament, complaint, lamentation, turf, tower, pit, bower, skin, throat, worms, note, help, worldly, hope
John McCafferty Jan 2020
To declare an age
surrounding state
Aware of peat
the surf and deep green turf
It's sound as sage to know your worth
from formed experiences
Enlightenment is more than earned
(@PoeticTetra - instagram/twitter)
TIZZOP Nov 2019
do me a favor aight
when you go switch off the lights

close the door behind

pay attention to the lock it
makes a sound pay attention

do me this favor
you gotta do it cause

shadows everywhere
voices everywhere
enemies everywhere

ain't no fun though as
gang colors in the nineties

tag watts
tag berlin
tag harlem

shadows everywhere
voices everywhere
enemies everywhere

for twentyseven years
do me a favor aight?

i've been looking for a brother
i've  been looking for a mother

nobody knows about it
they don't know and they
don't have to

when they interrogate you
about last night
when they ask tell em:

i was asleep at night
as civilians do

no talk about turf
no talk about extortion
no talk about capital crimes

private matters
wat matter is you
lock the door baby
YouTube: "the wire omar comin!"
He woke, as before, a boy.
She told him he would be a man,
As his father was out cutting turf,
And his mother told him the story,
He had heard before by the fire.
No pages to this book, not a leaf.

When he was younger, this boy
Had once cut, alone, the turf.
But upon placing it in the fire,
He decided instead to burn the mother of the leaf,
And that he did not want to be a man.
He couldn’t tell himself her story.

He saw his mother, an aspen leaf
Trembling by the fire,
As what was deemed a man
Turned her blackened eyes into a story.
He had always resembled a boy
Even to his own son, who pressed his tear-stained face into the turf.

His father tried to prove the boy a man
But found instead that he was hardly even boy.
So drink hid him from the story
While the not-boy cried by the fire
Knowing that he could not touch his fathers turf.
It was not like a man to shake as if a leaf.

The not-boy decided again not to be a man,
And lying in the earth found a fire
Inside that showed him a story
He had told himself as a boy
In which those who were only leaves
Could not have their own turf.

He was not the only boy
Who did not understand “man”
None did, and instead told a story
About how only the strongest leaf
Would cut the turf
And that only women would tend the fire.

Boys do not cut turf.
Leaves fall and we still tell stories
Of how fire somehow makes a man.

— The End —