Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley






 This Site  Web





Elegiac


Dancing Through the Night

Dancing Through the Night consists of three stanzas of ten lines each and is not rhymed.

A lover is faced with the recent death of his wife and regrets that she will not wake again. He must live on until he also passes away. They had lived as if life would never end but they would never live those times again. He bids her to sleep forever a peaceful sleep taking refuge in the delusion that the breeze will bring her back although he knows that their past will be reflected, for her, in heavenly music and, for him, in the whispering wind.






Farewell

The protagonist compares the moment of loss of his (or her) spouse to caravans crossing unobserved in the desert. He senses an indefinite period that must elapse like night before they can meet again and wonders what form she will meanwhile have assumed. He pleads that she may stay close to him throughout the dark days to come and imagines her to be always near him.

Format is 28 lines over three stanzas of unequal length irregularly rhymed.






Farewell to Bright Eyes

Farewell to Bright Eyes consists of nine stanzas each of eight lines rhymed DH.

Parents of a departed child are consoled in their loss by the prospect of meeting him or her in their dreams. They see him often when they implore him to appear in the silence of the night from his place among the stars to appear in the flowers and blossoms of their dream.

But, he is summoned by bells pealing faintly from far off steeples that announce the dawn and they wake to find him gone. They wish for his safe return and keep him locked in their memories confident of his reappearing in subsequent dreams.






Fog

Two lovers form a passionate relationship which becomes overwhelmed as if by a fog swirling over former thoughts of eternal loyalty that erases the vows previously sworn. They feel the contrast of wintery cold entering their souls as a consequence of their deceit and loss of companionship.

But far away in the hills of their minds is a plant that beckons them to resume their relationship by means of clearing their minds of the fog and seeking clarity in a new beginning. In admitting the sun into their lives, they will transform their fortunes and drive out the doubts and hostility in order, once more, to find love as the binding force in their lives.

Format is five stanzas of eleven to thirteen heavily but irregularly rhymed lines.

Fog





How Brief the Moon

The night gives way to glaring day as moon descends to recuperate in the care of a shielding priestess. The lover regrets the loss of moonlight as the moon causes the tide to wash out the hours as if his beloved had been carried away upon its departure. As day dims the delights of night, he regrets her loss to the fates but retains the memories stored at the place where he awaits the moon's return imagining its ascent when, even though he may have died in her absence, his love would not have perished and he would be revived by the moon bathing his grave and be able, once more, to feel their love in its beams.

Format is ten stanzas each of nine lines and is heavily rhymed throughout.






Last Voyage

Last Voyage consists of seven stanzas each of twelve lines and is not rhymed.

It addresses the anguish of a relative who, too late, discovers that a troubled person has removed himself from the world. His remorse is expressed in loving tones and understanding with the promise that they will someday be re-united.

The poem uses maritime analogies in order to signify the inner turmoil of the departed and the later reunification in harbour. The moment of anguish is expressed by reference to the permanence of winter weather and the black birds wheeling about the churchyard. But it is followed by the wish that the departed may finally rejoice in the warmer climes beyond the seas where that brief life will find fulfilment in the love that accompanies him.






Memories

A tribute to memories which stay in the mind when all else has dissolved into the mists of time. The incidents acquired in life can thereby be retained even when the events have slipped into history as even the present passes away to be replaced by the new. They will, however, suddenly be recalled as an unexpected event occurs to remind one of the beauties that one has experienced.

Format is five stanzas each of ten lines rhymed HJ.






No Return

No Commentary






Passing On

A man reviews his life with regrets for youth long since passed whereupon he embarks upon his adult life. He, first, debates which path to follow, but, conscious that some decision must be made, strides forth on his way. The adverse weather he encounters is a metaphor for the travails of life that he encounters; and his leaving the winding road is a metaphor for domesticity within which he is able to observe passers-by whom he can compare with his own search for success.

He realizes that life flashes quickly by and, in his calm observance of others who must also travel onwards, he muses on what he will encounter upon reaching the final destination. But he is only too aware of the interval remaining and is reluctant to leave the world in which he has found contentment. He stoically casts his mind on past glories and prepares to enter the shadows proudly aware that he will be remembered for his achievements.

Format twelve stanzas of from eight to twelve lines each which are irregularly rhymed.






Remember

A reminder to mourners in a remembrance march, as they think upon their fallen comrades, that losses have occurred on all sides and should be remembered together. They should not only mourn the dead but be proud of the new age in which they now live thanks to past sacrifices made on their behalf. Others, wherever they may be, who may be closely affected by the losses, also deserve a part of sympathy in their sorrows.

Format is three stanzas of twelve, four and ten lines few of which are rhymed.






Remnant of Spring

No Commentary






Return to the Old Abode

Return to the Old Abode consists of three stanzas each of thirteen lines which are not rhymed.

The poem relates the return of a man through the memories of his wife's decease back to his former home and his reminiscence of the happy times they spent there. He finds the place now bereft of the charm he had recollected of the well-tended gardens where they spent their happy years. They, like his memories, have also become overgrown and wild.

But he then hears a thrush singing amid the blossom. His memories are transformed as he recalls their former life and the bird seems to revive his soul with the thought that he is no longer alone.






The Crossing

A story of a man reluctantly ferried by Charon across the river Styx who protests to the gods that his interment will serve no purpose and pleads to be granted an extension to his life. The gods are implacable, however, repeatedly dismissing his promises of reform. He, finally, relents in despair but with the wish that others will not also suffer his fate. The gods grant him an interment wherein he may atone for his misdeeds by dreaming goodwill throughout the afterlife.

Format is sixteen quatrains mostly rhymed AD, BC but with the occasional AC, BD.






The Distant Hills

The Distant Hills consists of six stanzas alternating between nine and ten lines each.

It addresses the sadness of bereavement. I had in mind that of a mother addressing her child but the departed could easily be a lover or husband.

The mother refuses to abandon the memory of her child whom she believes will be ever present. She recognizes that their separation will be long and that deep sadness will intervene; but she will feast upon the image of the child as if he or she is standing on a distant hill and thus always visible. She will be able to gain some consolation from the vividness of her memories which will restore the child to her as if he or she had always been present.






The Flower

The Flower consists of three stanzas each of seven lines where a statement of four lines is answered by a response of three lines. It is written in free verse without rhyme or regular meter, although iambs are prevalent, but I hope that the story of the lovers parting is sufficiently poetic to compensate. There are a few internal rhymes and assonances, however, eg "play, May", "new, through", "afresh, perish", "blossoms, kisses".

I envisage the story to be related by a man; but a woman could easily be the protagonist. He is not a mere youth as in many poems of lost love, however, but somewhat older with a certain maturity of judgement and insight into human feelings that enable him to view his loss with detachment from the perspective of wisdom gained by experience rather than from the immaturity and self-indulgence of the despair of youth.

He compares a deep felt loss, probably of a dearly loved woman who has left him for some unexplained and probably unjust reason. He sees in a newly plucked flower a means to contrast his everlasting love with the ephemeral passage of emotions she has demonstrated and now has so cruelly withdrawn from him.

The poem begins with the analogy of love represented by the flower overcoming all obstacles and confident that it will be perpetually renewed each spring in contrast to the vulnerability of a love that will not regenerate once it has encountered a rebuff. The poem then suddenly plunges into the foreboding of impending loss which is confirmed, in emulation of her sudden departure, by the jilted lover plucking the flower which will now wither rather than be renewed.

The flower will be reborn to grace a later spring but with no memory of past despair whereas the jilted lover cannot believe that another love will be as heartfelt as that which he has felt for his recently lost beloved and which, in contrast, will die of grief and never reawaken despite his constancy.

The poem calls in aid the passage of the year from spring through summer that, in the winds and buds of May, and with their waving flowers, expresses the joys of love. This is contrasted with the despair evoked by the cruelty he has suffered when his love was spurned. What had evidently been a deep and reciprocated love has suddenly dissolved after some disagreement has arisen between them and they have parted in bleakened circumstances with the consequence that their separation has transformed a flower strewn life of former joy into a barren moor. They have taken their separate paths and she has gone to some unknown place for some unknown reason whilst he is left gazing at an empty arena.

I use the double meaning of the verb "to press" in order to echo his dilemma. The perfection of his love could have been preserved by pressing the flower in a book; but the flower is no longer the emblem of their undivided love kept forever in treasured memory but petals blowing in the wind in representation of their fractured love. They are, nonetheless, his ambassadors of love and his last remnant of hope that they may find her and restore her love for him.

The wind has a personality that is favourably disposed towards the couple having once fanned their love and is now willing to be pressed into service in order to aid them in this trial by blowing the remnants of the flower in pursuit of the woman in a vain attempt to salvage their relationship. By setting free the petals in the hope that they may find and restore his previous happiness, the lover sacrifices the emblem of his love in this last act of desperation thereby not only forgoing the pleasure that it may have brought some consolation to him in future years but also demonstrating his commitment to their relationship despite her having left him.

He is confident that the same wind that blew in spring can seek her out; but he knows deep within his soul that she has severed their relationship and that he will not be able to rekindle her former feelings. She has broken free having evidently been captivated in her love for him and will not now return; and neither will the wind. His feelings are that much more poignant for her having renounced him voluntarily whilst his love remains as deep and permanent as ever.

He has probably exhausted any argument he may have had that would achieve a reconciliation. All he can do now is gaze after the petals borne on the wind and stoically accept that, whilst spring will revive the flower, his love will never be requited. Those bleak feelings felt upon her departure will remain. Only heather upon the moorland that, as the fourth character in the drama, has maintained a sombre silence throughout, will know that his feelings are as strongly felt as those posed by the finality of death.






The Land I Knew

A man feels the onset of death when winter yields to a permanent spring and he retains the sight of the beauty he knew. His river has run through the course of his life as far as the sea. Now, he ascends the path to the skies aided by the moon dispelling his fears. With a new found freedom, he will proceed to repeat his earthly success that will act as guidance to others in their lives. As he nears the end of his final journey, he rejoices at the everlasting day before him and visualises an existence after death not distant from his beloved.

Format is nine stanzas, mostly of twelve lines each, fulsomely rhymed throughout.






The Last Smile

A bereaved lover compares his loss to the change of season into Autumn and Winter. All of nature has lost the charm of Spring and Summer: leaves dropping; the year closing; flowers falling to the earth. Time passes and life declines but, even in bereavement, he can still recall the words and sounds of a life now passed. Love lives on beyond the grave as he seeks remembrance in the stars shining through the, now, leafless branches.

Format is ten stanzas each consisting of two quatrains all of which are rhymed AC, BD.






The Lost Land

A man has lost his lover for some unexplained reason and reflects upon the barrenness of the life he now faces. There are explanations for disasters but he finds none for his predicament in the loss of the happiness they knew. His future, now, is that of the precipice or of a new episode in his life. The former offers certainty, the latter merely a possibility of renewal. He debates the merits of each and marvels at his ability to assess the arguments concluding that some final goal, when reached, may bring reward.

Format is eight stanzas, mostly of ten lines, each heavily, but irregularly, rhymed.






Too Proud to Return

Too Proud to Return consists of seven stanzas each of six lines and is not rhymed.

Two lovers have a bitter disagreement leading to separation but, unable to discard their pride, neither will admit to any fault. It is as if they were separated by a wide river mouth with each on opposite headlands. The protagonist has not stopped loving but suppresses any admission of wrongdoing despite the pangs of separation.

He is aware that their love still burns as brightly as before but he is resolute in stubbornly refusing to admit his faults. Their separation will pertain even unto the grave and neither party will be prepared to re-examine their flaws. They will, instead, drag out their days regardless how crippled their minds become.