Archive for the Poetry Category

Eternal Greece

Posted in Greece, Greek Myth, Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 27, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


Our land is the land of immortal spirits and idols
Apollo, full of joy and supreme, is our god.

Christ crucified, lying in his white winding-sheet,
is beautiful Adonis covered with roses.

The soul of ancient Greece lives hidden unwillingly within us.
Great Pan is not dead, no, great Pan does not die!

Text: Kostis Palamas, Iamboi kai Anapaistoi. Athens, 1920
Image: Titian, Il Cristo risuscitato, c. 1511

The Silver Age

Posted in Greek Myth, Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 19, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Corot, Sodom

The second age came after,
and it was much worse.
This silver age of men was made by the immortals
who have palaces on Olympus.
Neither in body nor mind
did they resemble the golden age.
For one hundred years,
each child stayed with its mother.
For one hundred years, she had to raise it,
fussing over it at home, a big dumb child.
Then when it passed puberty,
that measure of youthful prime,
it didn’t live much longer.
Sufferings were brought on
because of their deeply ingrained,
habitually adolescent stupidity. Reckless violence
could not be restrained between them.
As for service to the immortals,
they were unwilling to give it.
They offered no sacrifice on the altars of the blessed.
But sacred law decrees that humans offer sacrifice,
as is our custom. Therefore Zeus,
the son of Cronus, in a just anger, made them disappear.
They refused to give honors
to the blessed gods who hold Olympus.
And for that reason they had to die.

Text: Hesiod, Theogony/Works and Days, translated by C. S. Morrissey. Vancouver: Talon Books, 2012
Image: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, L’incendie de Sodome, oil on canvas, 1843 and 1857, Metropolitan Museum

Man in the stream…

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 17, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


Man in the stream of his mysterious life
Has left to his descendants patterns various and worthy of his
immortal origin
As he has also left traces of the ruins of daybreak,
snowdrifts of heavenly reptiles, paper eagles, diamonds and
the glances of hyacinths
In the midst of sighs, of tears, of hunger, of lamentations
and of the ash of wells under the earth.

Text: Nikos Gatsos, Amorgos, translated by Sally Purcell. London: Anvil Press, 2006
Image: Nicolas Poussin, Paysage avec Saint Jean à Patmos, oil on canvas, 1660, Art Institute of Chicago

They say the mountains shiver…

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 16, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Poussin, Deluge

They say the mountains shiver and the fir trees are enraged
When night crunches up the pegs of the roof-tiles for familiars to enter in
When the swill of hell runs in the froth and trouble of winter streams
Or when the parted hair of the pepper tree becomes a spinning-top for the north wind.

Only the cattle of the Achaeans in the fat meadows of Thessaly
Graze thriving and strong in the everlasting sun that watches them
They eat green grass, leaves of poplar, parsley, drink clean water in the channels
They smell the sweat of the earth and later fall down heavily in the shade of the willow and sleep.

Reject the dead, said Heraclitus, and saw the sky turn pale
And saw two little cyclamens kissing in the dirt
And he too lay down to kiss his own dead body on the hospitable earth
As the wolf comes down from the woods to see the dog’s carcass and to weep.
What is it to me, the drop that runs and glitters down your forehead?
I know the lightning has written his name on your lips
I know an eagle has built his nest in your eyes
But here on the wet bank there is only one road
Only one deceiving road and you must take it
You must dive down into blood before occasion overtakes you
And cross to the other side to rediscover your comrades
Flowers birds deer
To find another sea, another gentleness,
To seize the horses of Achilles by the reins
Instead of sitting dumb to quarrel with the river
To throw stones at the river like the mother of Kitsos.
Because you in your turn will have been ruined and your beauty will have grown old.
On the branches of a willow I see the shirt of your childhood hanging up to dry.
Take the flag of your life for a sheet to wind up death
And let your heart not bend
And let your tear not fall on this unrelenting earth
As the penguin’s tear once fell in the frozen desert
Lamentation is useless
Everywhere life will be the same, with the flute of the serpents in the country of ghosts
With the song of the robbers in the spice groves
With the knife of a sorrow in the cheek of hope
With the grief of a springtime nestling in the heart of the young owl
It is enough if a plough is found and a sickle sharp in a happy hand
Enough if there should flower only
A little grain for festivals, a little wine for remembrance, a little water for the dust…

Text: Nikos Gatsos, Amorgos, translated by Sally Purcell. London: Anvil Press, 2006
Image: Nicolas Poussin, L’Hiver ou Le Déluge, oil on canvas, 1660-1664, Musée du Louvre

A Black Cat Crossed the Road I Was Born On

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 10, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Benton, June Morning

So many have passed on.

The mailboxes keel over from the weight
Of the catalogues and almanacs
No one has claimed.

On my day off, I’ve thought
Of coming by with posthole diggers,
But Death knows my ass
From a hole in the ground.

The people on the roofs are drinking
But they don’t brew that beer anymore.
Death is no chauffeur,
Nevertheless, he holds it in the road.

When Death beats his child
Nobody listens.

For two bits I would pull over
And lay down in the long legs of the past,
But Death is two-timing me.

Death can lace his boots
Before you can spit.

He can get all the ham off the bone.

Some people I knew hired Death by the hour.
He brought in good money every week.

My mother used to beg,
“Son, don’t write about Death,
We’ll cross that ditch soon enough.”
I ask you to have respect for the dead.

This is the place alright,
Like a flower in the night
Death drifts over the garden
Of our shoulders,
Like a boat with no eyes,
No place for the oars, the hands.

Death has a high voice,
An auctioneer to oversee
All your worldly possessions.

He is selling a bed
That belonged to your father,
He is coming in low,
Dumping your brother’s boots
In the enemy’s field.

Death runs a little side show
And you always buy a ticket.

There is no doubt in my mind,
Death is a bad hog.

Death ties everything down with guy-wires.
It sends you a message every month
To keep you in the black.

The Church has a record of your birth
But Death keeps its own dossier.

When the moon is pulling its blood
From its many lovers,
And Death is caterwauling with the cold fish-
Bone in its mouth, shedding all
Its skins and secret light I, like you,
Set out a dish of milk.

Text: Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2015
Image: Thomas Hart Benton, June Morning, oil on masonite, 1945, Cummer Museum of Art

Time Forks Perpetually toward Innumerable Futures in One of Them I Am Your Enemy

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 9, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


I am going to die.

Friends who made good,
Friends who did not,
I am going
Down into the Egypt of your sex,
The lands of your mystery and death.

Do you still want me
To find you
Somebody to love?

I cruise through the delta of your love,
Paradise on Sunday,
Cold as ice on Monday.
A hundred pounds of it on the tongs,
A butterfly at the center.

Going home I cross the bridge
And throw a bottle out the window,
Hit all my friends in the head.

The crickets under the straw
Like old folks spitting in a paper sack.

Now my life the Sphinx
Laid by slaves,
My death the promised land.

A light rain falling, a split tongue
And sad eyes, no lie,
I’ve got you by the tongue.

I park my Cadillac outside your temple of madness.
You are worshipped there.

Look at your face, swollen from sleep.
Are you waiting for me
To unwind you from your last clothes,
Do you want me
To bury my long ship in your heart?

Your lineage like gravesites for the stars,
Way stations for great dreamers.

There is a six foot rattlesnake
Asleep in the birdhouse.
Are you taking crumbs to the warblers tonight?

Death is an isthmus, you can get there on foot.
But love had made its island.

What of the young?
I hunt them down,
Good winds in the desert,
Blue eggs in the junipers.

Tell it:

There is a fear without age or Christ
That goes through us
Like moonshine in a coil.

There is a stranger
You see more and more of
Every year, he is silt in the riverbed.
And the water tables of your mystery
Rise to their final levels,
The spitting image of your death.

If you leave a girl of your own,
Tell her to run off with your enemy’s son,
If you have a son,
Tell him to run off with your enemy’s daughter.
And if you have no enemies, inquire of me,
Your troubles are just beginning.

Text: Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2015
Image: Thomas Hart Benton, After Many Springs, oil and tempera on masonite, 1945, Collection of the Thomas Hart Benton Estate


Abendländisches Lied

Posted in Poetry with tags on May 21, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


O der Seele nächtlicher Flügelschlag:
Hirten gingen wir einst an dämmernden Wäldern hin
Und es folgte das rote Wild, die grüne Blume und der lallende Quell
Demutsvoll. O, der uralte Ton des Heimchens,
Blut blühend am Opferstein
Und der Schrei des einsamen Vogels über der grünen Stille des Teichs.

O, ihr Kreuzzüge und glühenden Martern
Des Fleisches, Fallen purpurner Früchte
Im Abendgarten, wo vor Zeiten die frommen Jünger gegangen,
Kriegsleute nun, erwachend aus Wunden und Sternenträumen.
O, das sanfte Zyanenbündel der Nacht.

O, ihr Zeiten der Stille und goldener Herbste,
Da wir friedliche Mönche die purpurne Traube gekeltert;
Und rings erglänzten Hügel und Wald.
O, ihr Jagden und Schlösser; Ruh des Abends,
Da in seiner Kammer der Mensch Gerechtes sann,
In stummem Gebet um Gottes lebendiges Haupt rang.

O, die bittere Stunde des Untergangs,
Da wir ein steinernes Antlitz in schwarzen Wassern beschaun.
Aber strahlend heben die silbernen Lider die Liebenden:
Ein Geschlecht. Weihrauch strömt von rosigen Kissen
Und der süße Gesang der Auferstandenen.

Text: Georg Trakl, Sebastian im Traum. Leipzig: Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1915
Image: Dr. Hans Oellacher, Georg Trakl als k. u. k. Militär-Medikamentenakzessist (Beamter im Range eines Leutnants), 1914, Salzburg Museum