Four Poems

Translated by Donald D. Walsh

THE QUEEN

I have named you queen.
There are taller ones than you, taller.
There are purer ones than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier
But you are the queen
When you go through the streets
no one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
at the carpet of red gold
that you tread as you pass,
the nonexistent carpet
And when you appear
all the rivers sound
in my body, bells
shake the sky,
and a hymn fills the world
Only you and I,
only you and I, my love,
listen to it

IN YOU THE EARTH

Little
rose,
roselet,
at times,
tiny and naked,
it seems
that in one hand of mine
you would fit,
that I am going to clasp you thus,
and carry you to my mouth,
but
suddenly
my feet touch your feet and my mouth your lips,
you have grown,
your shoulders mount like two hills,
your breasts wander over my chest,
my arm can scarcely encircle the thin
new-moon line that your waist has:
in love you have loosened yourself like seawater:
I can scarcely measure the sky’s most spacious eyes
and I lean down to your mouth to kiss the earth

NIGHT ON THE ISLAND

All night I have slept with you next to the sea, on the island. Wild and sweet you were between pleasure and sleep, between fire and water
Perhaps very late our dreams joined at the top or at the bottom, up above like branches moved by a common wind, down below like red roots that touch
Perhaps your dream drifted from mine and through the dark sea was seeking me as before, when you did not yet exist, when without sighting you I sailed by your side, and your eyes sought what now— bread, wine, love, and anger— I heap upon you because you are the cup that was waiting for the gifts of my life
I have slept with you all night long while the dark earth spins with the living and the dead, and on waking suddenly in the midst of the shadow my arm encircled your waist. Neither night nor sleep could separate us
I have slept with you and on waking, your mouth, come from your dream, gave me the taste of earth, of seawater, of algae, of the depths of your life, and I received your kiss moistened by the dawn as if it came to me from the sea that surrounds us

THE MASON

All your body has a fullness or a gentleness destined for me
When I move my hand up I find in each place a dove that was seeking me, as if they had, love, made you of clay for my own mason’s hands
Your knees, your breasts, your waist are missing parts of me like the hollow of a thirsty earth from which they broke off a form, and together we are complete like a single river, like a single grain of sand

From The Captain’s Verses (1951)