Archive for the Poetry Category

Epigram of Damagetus

Posted in Art, Poetry with tags , , , on December 14, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


ARTEMIS, who wieldest the bow and the arrows of might, by thy fragrant temple hath Arsinoë, the maiden daughter of Ptolemy, left this lock of her own hair, cutting it from her lovely tresses.

Berenice II

Posted in Art, Object, Poetry with tags , , , on December 13, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


The Graces are four, for beside those three standeth a new-erected one, still dripping with scent, blessed Berenice, envied by all, and without whom even the Graces are not Graces.

Orophernes

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on December 12, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


He, who on the four-drachma piece
seems to have a smile on his face,
on his beautiful, refined face,
he is Orophernes, son of Ariarthes.

A child, they chased him out of Cappadocia,
from the great ancestral palace,
and sent him away to grow up
in Ionia, to be forgotten among foreigners.

Ah, the exquisite nights of Ionia
when fearlessly, and completely as a Greek,
he came to know pleasure utterly.
In his heart, an Asiatic still:
but in his manners and in his speech a Greek,
bedecked with turquoise, yet Greek attired,
his body scented with perfume of jasmine;
and of Ionia’s beautiful young men
the most beautiful was he, the most ideal.

Later on, when the Syrians came
to Cappadocia, and had made him king,
he threw himself completely into his reign,
that he might enjoy some novel pleasure each new day,
that he might horde the gold and silver, avaricious,
that over all of this he might exult, and gloat
to see the heaped-up riches glittering.
As for cares of state, administration–
he didn’t know what was going on around him.

The Cappadocians quickly threw him out.
And so to Syria he fled, to the palace of
Demetrius, to entertain himself and loll about.

Still, one day some unaccustomed thoughts
broke in on his total idleness:
he remembered that through his mother, Antiochis,
and through that ancient lady, Stratonice,
he too descended from the Syrian crown,
he too was very nearly a Seleucid.
For a while he emerged from his lechery and drink,
and ineptly, in a kind of daze,
cast around for something he might plot,
something he might do, something to plan,
and failed miserably and came to nothing.

His death must have been recorded somewhere and then lost.
Or maybe history passed it by,
and very rightly didn’t deign
to notice such a trivial thing.

He, who on the four-drachma piece
left the charm of his lovely youth,
a glimmer of his poetic beauty,
a sensitive memento of an Ionian boy,
he is Orophernes, son of Ariarthes.

–trans. Daniel Mendelsohn

The Glory of the Ptolemies

Posted in Poetry with tags , on December 11, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


I’m Lagides, king, absolute master
(through my power and wealth) of sensual pleasure.
There’s no Macedonian, no barbarian, equal to me
or even approaching me. The son of Selefkos
is really a joke with his cheap lechery.
But if you’re looking for other things, note this too:
my city’s the greatest preceptor, queen of the Greek world,
genius of all knowledge, of every art.

–trans. Keeley and Sherrard

Salome, 1896

Posted in Poetry with tags , on December 1, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Upon a golden charger Salome bears
     the head of John the Baptist
          to the young Greek sophist
who recoils from her love, indifferent

The young man quips, “Salome, your own
     head is what I wanted them to bring me.”
          This is what he says, jokingly.
And her slave came running on the morrow

holding aloft the head of the Beloved,
     its tresses blond, upon a golden plate.
     But all his eagerness of yesterday
the sophist had forgotten as he studied.

He sees the dripping blood and is disgusted.
     He orders this bloodied thing to
     be taken from him, and he continues
his reading of the dialogues of Plato.

–trans. Daniel Mendelsohn

Childhood

Posted in Poetry with tags on November 9, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Dorothea Lange, Mississippi Delta Negro Children, 1936
Yellow water
in the stockyard -
far away and cold, a priori,

and there, like drumsticks,
alphabets without end
of untamed children:

oh! Broken Glass, Splinter and Straw,
oh! Linear Scythian Winds,
and like carnival scuffles in cellars,
Paper and Paper and Paper;

oh! ship’s boys of straw,
oh! damp of letters on fingers!

HERE AND NOW – IT SEEMS TO CUT,
BUT ONLY ME, NOT YOU!
CUTTING – THROUGH PICTURES AND DRESSES
AND CLAWS OF BIRDS!

Cows’ hooves are bright, unbelievable,
like sailing into a bay,
or like a dance,

and then, like the pounding of rails,
bright and wide and unsparing
the embrace of those who were with us -
hands, sisters, necks, mothers!

let us breathe again, let us breathe,
let us sleep again and pass
not yesterday, today or tomorrow, o-o-o-o-o!-

THROUGH CHILDREN’S SHOUTS,
THROUGH DAMP OF LETTERS,
THROUGH PICTURES AND DRESSES
AND CLAWS OF BIRDS!

Poem by Gennady Aigi, 1960
–Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1936

Lost Wine

Posted in Poetry with tags on October 30, 2014 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


One day I tossed into the Ocean
(I don’t recall under what skies)
A kind of offering to the void,
A whole remnant of precious wine…

Who willed your loss, Oh alcohol?
Perhaps the heavens led my hand?
Perhaps my heart’s preoccupation,
Dreaming of blood, spilling wine?

There was a brief effusion of rosy
Smoke, and then the sea became
Transparent, as it was before…

The wine lost… the waves drunk!
I saw extraordinary figures
Leaping across the bitter air…

Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry
30 October 1871 – 20 July 1945

translation via

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