Saadi: Golestan 8.12 (From Persian)

From the Golestan: Chapter 8, Section 12
By Saadi of Shiraz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Have no mercy an enemy for his powerlessness. If he were powerful, he would have none on you.

      Faced with a helpless foe, don't gloat
      How you're a gentleman.
      In every body's bone, there's marrow.
      In every shirt, a man.

The Original:

بر عجز دشمن رحمت مکن که اگر قادر شود بر تو نبخشاید.

دشمن چو بینی ناتوان
لاف از بروت خود مزن
مغزیست در هر استخوان
مردیست در هر پیرهن

Zulfiya Atoi: Daughter's Song (From Tajik)

Daughter's Song
By Zulfiya Atoi
Translated by A.Z. Foreman 

At my name, life began. It was the key
To opening the lock on goodness' door.
At my name, hands reached out and gripped the stars.
My every hair brought miracles galore.

At my name, Farhad dug into the mountain
And threw himself down from it, and was dead.
At my name, Qays became loveshot Majnun,
Preferring deserts to the world he shed.

Scattering laughter I return as spring.
Now come the poets' whining elegies. 
They say I am unkind, that I steal hearts.
But I am kind as a musk-wafting breeze.

The Original:

Сурӯди Духтар
Зулфия Атоӣ

Зиндагӣ бо номи ман оғоз шуд
Қулфи дарҳои накӯӣ боз шуд
Дастҳо бо номи ман ахтар гирифт,
Ҳар сари мӯ соҳиби эъҷоз шуд.

Кӯҳро бо номи ман Фарҳод канд,
Бандҳои қуллааш аз ҳам фиканд.
Қайс ҳам бо номи ман Маҷнун бишуд,
Аз ҷаҳон омад биёбонаш писанд.

Чун баҳорон гаштаам ман хандарез,
Бандбанди шоирон шуд нолахез.
Дилбари номеҳрубонам гуфтаанд,
Меҳрубонам чун насими мушкбез!

In Perso-Arabic script:

سرود دختر
زلفيه عطائى

زندگی با نام من آغاز شد
قفل درهای نکویی باز شد
دست‌ها با نام من اختر گرفت
هر سر مو صاحب اعجاز شد

کوه را با نام من فرهاد کَند
بندهای قله‌اش از هم فکند
قیس هم با نام من مجنون بشد
از جهان آمد بیابانش پسند

چون بهاران گشته‌ام من خنده‌ریز
بندبند شاعران شد ناله‌خیز
دلبر نامهربانم گفته‌اند
مهربانم چون نسیم مشک‌بیز!

Hafiz: Ghazal 220 "Aspirations" (From Persian)

Ghazal 220 "Aspirations" 
By Hafiz
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Although our city preacher won't 
like hearing it from me, 
  He'll never be a Muslim with 
  this much hypocrisy. 
Learn to get drunk, be a gentleman 
not a dumb animal 
  That cannot drink a drop of wine  
  or be a man at all.  
The essence must be unalloyed 
to make His grace our own, 
  Or from our clay no pearls will come
  nor coral come from stone.  
The Almighty shall fulfill His will. 
Rejoice, my heart! No con 
  Or devilry can turn a demon 
  into a Solomon.  
Mine is the noble art of love.  
I hope against belief  
  This craft won't bring, as others brought,  
  despondency and grief.  
Last night he said "Tomorrow I  
will grant your heart's desire"  
  God let him have no change of heart
  nor let him be a liar.
May God add a good heart to all  
your physical attraction  
  So you'll no longer torment me 
  with harrowing distraction.
Hafiz! Unless a mote of dust  
aspires to mighty height,  
  It is not drawn to the true fount
  from which the sun draws light.

Prose paraphrase:

(1) Though the city preacher won't find it easy to hear these words, as long as he practices sophistry and hypocrisy, he'll never be a real Muslim. (2) Train yourself in dissolute drunkenness, and be a gentleman to others. For not so artful is the beast that does not drink wine, or become human. (3) There must be a pure-gemmed essence in order to be a vessel for holy grace, for without it stone and clay will not become pearl and coral. (4) He of the Greatest Name does his work - be glad O heart, for by no trick or fraud can a devil ever become Solomon. (5) I practice love, and hope that this noble art will not, as other arts have done, cause me chagrin. (6)  Last night he was saying "Tomorrow I will give you your heart's desire." Oh God, contrive to keep him from having compunction about doing so! (7) For my own sake I pray God include in your beauty a good disposition, so that my mind is no longer distraught and discombobulated. (8) So long as the dustmote lacks lofty aspiration and drive, Hafiz, it is not in quest for the source that is the resplendent sun's own dayspring.   


Verse 1: The word for hypocrisy, sālūs is identical to one of the words for the Christian trinity (though they are spelled differently in Perso-Arabic script.) Hypocrisy, for Hafiz, is a cardinal sin against the divine, and this may be a punny way of equating it with the dilution of monotheism, as the triune God of Christianity was, and indeed still is, generally seen by Muslims as a sketchy traducement of God's essential oneness. I myself get the sense that such punctilios as the dubious nature of the trinity (as well as all the things that you have to do or think to be a "true" Muslim) might have been precisely the sort of thing a pietistic preacher would rant about from the pulpit. The real sin isn't the Christian's sālūs (trinity) that would offend the preacher, but rather the preacher's own sālūs (hypocrisy) that offends Hafiz. Thus the preacher who might rant about what makes a proper Muslim is himself failing to measure up.          

Verse 3: See Qur'an [55:19-22]

Verse 7:  Many recensions of this poem have husn-i xulqē zi Xudā mētalabam xōy-i turā "I seek of God a fine disposition for your character", which does not make overmuch sense as xulq and xōy are more or less synonyms. Khanlārī prefers the variant ending in husn-i turā "to your beauty" which seems much more compelling to me. This version makes it clear that the speaker is asking for the beloved to be as good in heart as he is good to look at, for if so he will satisfy the lover's desire rather than making him yearn tormentedly. It also adds a nice bit of wordplay. For ḥusn-i xulq is also a technical term for "virtue of character" in a religious and ethical sense. Hafiz, though, is enjoining the beloved to keep his word and do something which, however pleasurable, is rather at odds with what the jurist would deem virtuous.       

The Original:

گر چه بر واعظ شهر این سخن آسان نشود تا ریا ورزد و سالوس مسلمان نشود
رندی آموز و کرم کن که نه چندان هنر است حیوانی که ننوشد می و انسان نشود
گوهر پاک بباید که شود قابل فیض ور نه هر سنگ و گلی لوءلوء و مرجان نشود
اسم اعظم بکند کار خود ای دل خوش باش که به تلبیس و حیل دیو سليمان نشود
عشق می‌ورزم و امید که این فن شریف چون هنرهای دگر موجب حرمان نشود
دوش می‌گفت که فردا بدهم کام دلت سببی ساز خدایا که پشیمان نشود
حسن خلقی ز خدا می‌طلبم حسن ترا تا دگر خاطر ما از تو پریشان نشود
ذره را تا نبود همت عالی حافظ
طالب چشمه خورشید درخشان نشود


Gar či bar wā'iz-i šahr īn suxan āsān našawad
Tā riā warzad u sālūs musalmān našawad
Rindī āmōz u karam kun ki na čandān hunarast
Hayawānē ki nanōšad may u insān našawad
Gawhar-i pāk bibāyad, ki šawad qābil-i fayz,
War na har sang u gilē lu'lu' u marjān našawad.
Ism-i a'zam bukunad kār-i xwad ay dil, xwaš bāš
Ki ba talbīs u hayal dēw Sulaymān našawad
'Išq mēwarzam u ummēd ki īn fann-i šarīf
Čūn hunarhā-i digar mawjib-i hirmān našawad
Dōš mēguft ki fardā bidiham kām-i dilat
Sababē sāz Xudāyā ki pašēmān našawad
Husn-i xulqē zi Xudā mētalabam husn-i turā
Tā digar xātar-i mā az tu parēšān našawad
Zurrarā tā nabuwad himmat-i 'ālī hāfiz
Tālib-i čašma-i xwaršēd-i duruxšān našawad


Гарчи бар воизи шаҳр ин сухан осон нашавад, 
То риё варзаду солус, мусулмон нашавад. 
Риндӣ омӯзу карам кун, ки на чандон ҳунар аст, 
Ҳаявоне, ки нанӯшад маю инсон нашавад. 
Гавҳари пок бибояд, ки шавад қобили файз, 
Варна ҳар сангу гиле лӯълӯву марҷон нашавад. 
Исми аъзам бикунад кори худ, эй дил, хуш бош 
Ки ба талбису ҳиял дев Сулаймон нашавад. 
Ишқ меварзаму уммед, ки ин фанни шариф, 
Чун ҳунарҳои дигар мӯҷиби хирмон нашавад. 
Дӯш мегуфт, ки фардо бидиҳам коми дилат, 
Сабабе соз, Худоё, ки пашемон нашавад. 
Ҳусни хулқе зи Худо металабам ҳусни туро, 
То дигар хотири мо аз ту парешон нашавад. 
Зарраро то набувад ҳиммати олӣ, Ҳофиз, 
Толиби чашмаи хуршеди дурахшон нашавад. 

Pangur Bán (from Old Irish)

The poem translated here is of anonymous authorship, in that the author's name is unknown. But he was an Irish monk operating at or near Reichenau Abbey in what is today Germany in the 9th century. The poem is found in his notebook. The meter of the original is a loose seven-syllable deibide with the featural rhymes typical of Old Irish, in the alternating rinn/ardrinn style in which a stressed syllable is rhymed with an unstressed one. I have rendered it in English with seven-syllable trochaic tetrameter and mostly using full rhymes, which may be a bit sing-songy or clip-cloppy, but seems to fit the tone of the poem rather well. Compare this with my translation of Creide's lament where I used a syllabic approach to vary the rhythm a great deal more, and also used rhymes that — in English — would be judged imperfect but fit the featural criteria for what counts as a rhyme in Irish. 

Pangur Bán 
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Me and Pangur Bán at work:
He the cat, and I the clerk.
He is hunting mice to nip,
I am at my scholarship.

Fame's for fools. I'd rather rest
Studying my book with zest.
Happy for me, Pangur Bán
Plies his child-play all he can.

It's our never-boring tale.
We two, home alone, can't fail
To find everlasting sport
On which to fixate our art.

After berserk battle he
Nets a mouse in victory.
Me, I net a hard, dark line
Till I make its meaning shine.

His bright penetrating eye
Points toward the wall. While I 
Set my far less piercing sight
On a point more recondite.

He exults, getting a raw
Mouse impaled upon his claw.
When a dear yet difficult
Problem yields, I too exult.

That's us, ever at our art.
None bugging his counterpart, 
Each making a craft his own
To rejoice in it alone. 

Crafty Pangur, cat of prey,
Plies his trade by night and day.
I do monk's work, day and night,
Solving, bringing dark to light.

The Original:

Messe ocus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria saindán;
bíth a menma-sam fri seilgg,
mu menma céin im saincheirdd

Caraim-se fos, ferr cach clú,
oc mu lebrán léir ingnu;
ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán,
caraid cesin a maccdán.

Ó ru·biam — scél cen scís —
innar tegdais ar n-óendís,
táithiunn — díchríchide clius —
ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius.

Gnáth-húaraib ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna lín-sam;
os mé, du·fuit im lín chéin
dliged n-doraid cu n-dronchéill.

Fúachid-sem fri frega fál
a rosc anglése comlán;
fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
mu rosc réil, cesu imdis,

Fáelid-sem cu n-déne dul
hi·n-glen luch inna gérchrub;
hi·tucu cheist n-doraid n-dil,
os mé chene am fáelid.

Cía beimmi amin nach ré,
ní·derban cách ar chéle.
Maith la cechtar nár a dán,
subaigthius a óenurán.

Hé fesin as choimsid dáu
in muid du·n-gní cach óenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu mud céin am messe.

Lament of Créide for Dínertach (From Old Irish)

This poem preserved in the West Munster cycle. According to the prose preface there, Dínertach had come to fi ght for Guaire of Gort in 649 and was killed in battle, and the poem was made by Guaire's daughter Créd who had fallen for him. This does not make overmuch sense, as the poem is more intelligible if it is Guaire's wife who is speaking. The language of the poem, as reconstructed from a later copy, puts it in the late 9th century, hundreds of years after the events that supposedly occasioned it. It gives me the impression of having been originally an independent work that was eventually sutured into a prose narrative.

Créide's Lament for Dínertach (ca. 9th century)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

These sleep-slaughtering arrows strike
Every hour in cold of night:
Pangs for time spent after dark
With the man from Roigne's march.

Mad love for an outlander
Who outstripped his every peer
Has stripped my bloom, bleached my cheek,
And will now not let me sleep.

He spoke sweeter than men sing
Save those hymning heaven's king:
My great flame who spoke no bluff,
My sleek, tender-sided love.

As a girl I was modest,
Had no truck with lust or tryst.
Now in my uncertain age
Wantonness plays its charades.

Here I've got every good thing
With Gúaire, cold Aidne's king.
But the mind will out afar
From my folk to Irluachar.

Here they sing round Cell Colmán
In grand Aidne of that man
From past Limerick's grave-track,
The great flame named Dínertach.

Christ! It mutilates my heart
How they killed him in the dark.
These sleep-slaughtering arrows strike
Every hour in cold of night.

The Original:

It é saigte gona súain,
cech thrátha i n-aidchi adúair,
serccoí, lia gnása, íar n-dé,
fir a tóeb thíre Roigne.

Rográd fir ala thíre
ro-síacht sech a chomdíne
ruc mo lí (ní lór do dath);
ním-léci do thindabrad.

Binniu laídib a labrad
acht Ríg nime nóebadrad:
án bréo cen bréthir m-braise,
céle tana tóebthaise.

Imsa naídiu robsa náir:
ní bínn fri dúla dodáil;
ó do-lod i n-inderb n-aís
rom-gab mo théte togaís.

Táthum cech maith la Gúaire,
la ríg n-Aidni adúaire;
tocair mo menma óm thúathaib
isin íath i n-Irlúachair.

Canair a i n-íath Aidni áin,
im thóebu Cille Colmáin,
án bréo des Luimnech lechtach
díanid comainm Dínertach. 

Cráidid mo chride cainech,
a Chríst cáid, a ̇foraided:
it é saigte gona súain
cech thrátha i n-aidchi adúair.

Baudelaire: The Enemy (From French)

The Enemy
By Charles Baudelaire
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

My youth was but a dark-aired hurricane,
Pierced by an eye of sun from time to time;
So ravaged was my world by bolts and rain
That in my garden few red fruits still climb.

Now at the autumn of the mind I stand,
And here I am to toil with rake and spade

If I am to renew this flooded land
Of grave-sized holes the burrowing rains have made.

And who knows if my dream-grown flowers shall reach
Beneath this soil now scrubbed into a beach
And taste the mystic foods that heal their parts?

Agony. Agony! Time eats our lives
As the dark Enemy that gnaws our hearts
Grows bloated with the blood we lose, and thrives. 

The Original:


Ma jeunesse ne fut qu'un ténébreux orage,
Traversé çà et là par de brillants soleils;
Le tonnerre et la pluie ont fait un tel ravage,
Qu'il reste en mon jardin bien peu de fruits vermeils.

Voilà que j'ai touché l'automne des idées,
Et qu'il faut employer la pelle et les râteaux
Pour rassembler à neuf les terres inondées,
Où l'eau creuse des trous grands comme des tombeaux.

Et qui sait si les fleurs nouvelles que je rêve
Trouveront dans ce sol lavé comme une grève
Le mystique aliment qui ferait leur vigueur?

— Ô douleur! ô douleur! Le Temps mange la vie,
Et l'obscur Ennemi qui nous ronge le coeur
Du sang que nous perdons croît et se fortifie!

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff: Forest Conversation (From German)

Forest Conversation
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

It's late and cold. The light is gone.
So why ride through these woods alone?
The woods are vast. I'll be your guide
And help you home, you pretty bride."

"Great are men's lies and trickery.
They broke my heart in agony.
The hunter's bugle echoes round.
Oh flee. You don't know whom you've found."

Lady and horse, richly adorned.
Young body, marvelously formed.
I know you now. Dear God on high!
You are that witch, the Lorelei.

"Know me indeed! That tower is mine 
That looks out deep into the Rhine.
It's late and cold. The light is gone.
Your life outside these woods is done."

Me reading this poem:
The Original:

Joseph Karl Benedikt, Freiherr von Eichendorff
Es ist schon spät, es wird schon kalt,
Was reit'st du einsam durch den Wald?
Der Wald ist lang, du bist allein,
Du schöne Braut! Ich führ' dich heim!

"Groß ist der Männer Trug und List,
Vor Schmerz mein Herz gebrochen ist,
Wohl irrt das Waldhorn her und hin,
O flieh! Du weißt nicht, wer ich bin."

So reich geschmückt ist Roß und Weib,
So wunderschön der junge Leib,
Jetzt kenn' ich dich - Gott steh' mir bei!
Du bist die Hexe Lorelei. -

"Du kennst mich wohl - von hohem Stein
Schaut still mein Schloß tief in den Rhein.
Es ist schon spät, es wird schon kalt,
Kommst nimmermehr aus diesem Wald."

Heinrich Heine: "The Runestone Juts into the Sea" (From German)

"Es ragt in's Meer der Runenstein"
Heinrich Heine
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The runestone juts into the sea.
I sit beside it & dream. 
The seawinds skirl. The seagulls cry.
The waves foam away and stream.

I have loved many a pretty girl
And many a good lad in my day.
Where have they gone? The seawinds skirl.
The waves keep streaming away.

Me reading the original:

The Original:

Es ragt in’s Meer der Runenstein,
Da sitz’ ich mit meinen Träumen.
Es pfeift der Wind, die Möwen schrein,
Die Wellen, die wandern und schäumen.

Ich habe geliebt manch schönes Kind
Und manchen guten Gesellen –
Wo sind sie hin? Es pfeift der Wind,
Es schäumen und wandern die Wellen.

Anonymous: Opening of "Charlemagne and Elfguest" (From Middle Dutch)

"Karel ende Elegast", a medieval Romance about Charlemagne going out stealing in the middle of night on God’s orders, and in the process discovering a conspiracy on his life, is among the most famous pieces of Middle Dutch literature. Surprisingly I can't find anyone who has done a verse-translation into English. I guess if you want a thing done right, you gotta do it your own self. I here translate the first 82 lines of it. 

Opening of Charlemagne and Elfguest
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

There is a real true history
I can tell you. Listen to me:
It happened just as evening fell
While Charlemagne was sleeping well
At Ingelheim upon the Rhine.
He owned the whole land in that time 
And was both emperor and king.
Hear what a true yet wondrous thing
Happened to that king back then
(Remembered still by many men)
One night at Palace Ingelheim 
Where he had planned in one day's time
To hold court and wear his crown
So to magnify his renown. 

Now as the king in slumber lay
A holy angel called his way. 
So the king suddenly woke
At these words that angel spoke.
He said "Get up now, noble man.
Get dressed quickly as you can,
Arm yourself. Go out and steal.
God himself bid me reveal
This task to you. He is Lord on high.
Do it, or in dishonor die. 
Unless you go out tonight and thieve,
Evil will befall you. Believe:  
It will be the end of you.
You will die, your life be through
Before this next court finishes.
So now, take good heed of this
And go out stealing. Take your chance. 
Take your shield and take your lance.
Arm yourself, and mount your steed
And do not dally. Ride with speed."

This the king heard, open-eared.
It struck him as rather weird. 
There was no one to be seen,
He wondered what that voice might mean.
He assumed he'd dreamt it, and then
Paid it no mind. But once again 
Spoke the heavens' messenger
Angrily to the emperor:
"Get UP Charles. Go out and steal.
 God hath sent me to reveal
This His will. Go out. Ride on.
Do it, or your life is done."

This and nothing more said he.
And the king cried "Mercy me!"
Upset as he had ever been
"What does this freakish happening mean?
Are elf-delusions making me blunder
With figments of this monstrous wonder?
Oh God in heaven, honestly
What need even is there for me
To go out stealing? I am so rich,
There is no man with whom I'd switch,
No man on earth, not king or count,
Whose wealth amounts to my amount,
Unless he is my vassal too
And gives me service as my due.
My land is so massive, there
Is nothing like it anywhere. 
The land is entirely mine
From Cologne upon the Rhine
To as far as Rome which none
Own but the emperor alone.
I am king and my wife queen
From the eastern Danube's stream
To the wild and western sea.
And there's still more that belongs to me:
There's Galicia and Spain
Which I won by battle's reign
When I chased the heathen out
So now it's mine without a doubt. 
Why would I need to thieve at all
Like some pathetic criminal?
Why does God bid this of me?
I would hate to break his decree.
But did he really bid me thieve?
It's a struggle to believe
That the Mighty King of Kings
Wills me the shame of stealing things." 

Audio of me reading the first 76 lines of the original in Middle Dutch:

The Original:

Vraeye historie ende al waer 
mach ic u tellen, hoorter naer. 
Het was op enen avontstonde 
dat Karel slapen begonde 
tEngelem op den Rijn.
Dlant was alle gader sijn.
Hi was keyser ende coninc mede. 
Hoort hier wonder ende waerhede! 
Wat den coninc daer ghevel,
dat weten noch die menige wel. 
tEnghelem al daer hi lach
ende waende op den anderen dach 
crone draghen ende houden hof 

omme te meerner sinen lof.
Daer die coninc lach ende sliep, 
een heilich engel aen hem riep, 
so dat die coninc ontbrac
biden woerden die dengel sprac 
hij seyde: “Staet op, edel man. 
Doet haestelic u cleeder an, 
wapent u ende vaert stelen, 
God die hiet mi u bevelen,
die in hemelrike is here,
of ghi verliest lijf ende eere.
En steeldi in deser nacht niet, 
so is u evel gheschiet.
Ghi sulter omme sterven 
ende uwes levens derven
eer emmermeer scheit dit hof.
Nu verwacht u daer of,
vaert stelen of ghi wilt.
Neemt uwen speere ende uwen schilt, 
wapent u, sit op u paert
haestelic ende niet en spaert.
Dit verhoorde die coninc.
Het docht hem een vreemde dinc, 
want hi daer niemant en sach, 
wat dat roepen bedieden mach.
Hi waendet slapende hebben gehoort 
ende hilt hem niet an dat woert. 
Dengel die van Gode quam,
sprac ten coninc als die was gram: 
“Staet op, Karel, ende vaert stelen, 
God die hiet my u bevelen
ende ontbiedet u te voren,
anders hebdi u lijf verloren.”
Met dien woerde sweech hi.
Ende die coninc riep “Ay mi,” 
als die seere was vereent.
“Wat ist dat dit wonder meent? 
Ist alfs ghedroch dat mi quelt 
endit grote wonder telt?
Ay, hemelsche drochtijn, 
wat node soude mij sijn 
te stelene? Ic ben so rike.
En is man in aertrijcke,
weder coninc noch graven,
die so rijc sijn van haven,
sine moeten mi sijn onderdaen 
ende te minen diensten staen.
Mijn lant is so groot,
men vint nyewers sijns ghenoot.
Dlant is algader mijn
tote Colene opten Rijn 
ende tote Romen voort,
alst den keyser toe behoort.
 Ic ben here, mijn wijf is vrouwe,
oest totter wilder Denouwe
ende west totter wilder see.
Nochtans heb ic goets veel meer:
Galissien en Spandien lant,
dat ic selve wan mitter hant,
ende ic die heydene verdreef,
dat mi dlant alleene bleef.
Wat node soude mi sijn dan 
te stelene ellendich man?
Waer om ontbiedet mi dit God? 
Node brekic sijn ghebot - 
wistic dat hijt mi ontbode.
En mochs niet gheloven node 
dat mi God die lachter onste 
dat ic te stelen begonste.”

T. H. Parry-Williams: "Barrenness" (From Welsh)

By T. H. Parry-Williams 
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

It was a treeless world of weather-swept
Wilds in Snowdonia around my birth,
Bare as if giants had forever kept
Smoothing out every slanting slope of earth;
And as I grew up, through boyhood's amazing 
Years in our upland home among my own,
Those mountains' primal forms would press in, bracing
Me till their barrenness became my bone.
And if something of me survives my end
Without completely vanishing away,
And then is found by a like-hearted friend
By chance near Snowdon in the dusking day
He'll see in it no image, no design,
Just long-drawn barrenness' bleak outline.

Me reading the original:

The Original:


Nid oedd ond llymder anial byd di-goed 
O gylch fy ngeni yn Eryri draw,
Fel petai’r cewri wedi bod erioed
Yn hir lyfnhau’r llechweddau ar bob llaw; 
A thros fy magu, drwy flynyddoedd syn 
Bachgendod yn ein cartref uchel ni, 
Ymwasgai henffurf y mynyddoedd hyn, 
Nes mynd o’u moelni i mewn i’m hanfod i. 
Ac os bydd peth o’m defnydd yn y byd 
Ar ôl yn rhywle heb ddiflannu’n llwyr,
A’i gael gan gyfaill o gyffelyb fryd
Ar siawns wrth odre’r Wyddfa ’mrig yr hwyr, 
Ni welir arno lun na chynllun chwaith, 
Dim ond amlinell lom y moelni maith

Storm on the Great Moor (From Old Irish)

Storm on the Great Moor
(Anonymous: possibly 9th century)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Night falls cold on the Great Moor,
Storming with no small downpour. 
Wind laughs at its whooping flood
Shrieking on shielding wildwood.

Me reading the original Old Irish:
The Original:

Úar ind adaig i móin móir 
feraid dertan ní deróil
dordán fris tib in gaeth glan
geissid ós caille clithar

Dafydd ap Gwilym: The Seagull (From Welsh)

The Seagull
By Dafydd ap Gwilym
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Seagull floating on the seething tideflow,
White as moonlight or wild snow,
Moving in beauty immaculate, 
As a sunbeam-shard or sea-gauntlet,
Lightly skimming  the swell windward,
Swift fish-eating stately bird
Wont to angle at anchor with me
Side by side there, a sea-lily,
Shining letter  in silvered text,
A nun atop the sea-tide's crest. 

Perfect girl-symbol  worth praise in art,
Go for the curves of castle and rampart.
Keep looking, seagull,  till you light on her
Gorgeous as Igraine,   on the grand tower.
Speak my words  in sweet concord.
Let her choose me  and love my word.
If you see her alone  (since success
With so rare a girl  takes real deftness)
Then get some nerve to greet her. Say I,
A well-bred lad, must win her or die. 
I love that girl,  my guard of vigor.
No lover has loved  a lovelier
I'm telling you, men.  Not Taliesin
Nor flattery-lipped lusty Merlin.
Such a man-stopper with copper hair
And superlative form far too proper.

Oh yes, good gull  if you do come
To that most charming cheek  in Christendom,
Unless she answers  my love kindly
That girl will mean the end of me.

Audio of me reading the original Welsh:

The Original:

Yr Wylan

Yr wylan deg ar lanw, dioer,
Unlliw ag eiry neu wenlloer,
Dilwch yw dy degwch di,
Darn fel haul, dyrnfol heli.
Ysgafn ar don eigion wyd,
Esgudfalch edn bysgodfwyd.
Yngo'r aud wrth yr angor
Lawlaw â mi, lili môr.
Llythr unwaith lle'th ariannwyd,
Lleian ym mrig llanw môr wyd.

Cyweirglod bun, cai'r glod bell,
Cyrch ystum caer a chastell.
Edrych a welych, wylan,
Eigr o liw ar y gaer lân.
Dywaid fy ngeiriau dyun,
Dewised fi, dos hyd fun.
Byddai'i hun, beiddia'i hannerch,
Bydd fedrus wrth fwythus ferch
Er budd; dywaid na byddaf,
Fwynwas coeth, fyw onis caf.
Ei charu'r wyf, gwbl nwyf nawdd,
Och wŷr, erioed ni charawdd
Na Merddin wenithfin iach,
Na Thaliesin ei thlysach.
Siprys dyn giprys dan gopr,
Rhagorbryd rhy gyweirbropr.

Och wylan, o chai weled
Grudd y ddyn lanaf o Gred,
Oni chaf fwynaf annerch,
Fy nihenydd fydd y ferch.

Thankful for a Stormy Night (From Old Irish)

This short piece was written by a monk in the margin of an Irish manuscript of Priscian's Institutiones grammaticae. The poem's author welcomes a stormy night free from the risk of attacking Vikings, and supplies us with our earliest attestation of the Irish name for Scandinavia.  

Thankful for a Stormy Night
Anonymous (9th century)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman from Old Irish

Bitter wild winds blow tonight,
Tossing the sea's tress to white.
Good. I don't fear clear seas may
Bring berserkers from Norway.

Audio of me reading the original Old Irish:
The Original:

Is aicher in gáeth in nocht
fu·fúasna fairrge findḟolt;
ní·águr réimm Mora Minn
dond láechraid lainn úa Lothlind

"Summer's Gone" (From Old Irish)

"Summer's Gone"
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Here's my song.   Sad stags moan.
Winter blows,   summer's gone.

High winds lash.    Low, the sun.
Short, its course.   Seas roar on.

Fall-red fern   loses form.
Wildgeese wail   as the norm.

Cold now holds   each bird's wing.
Icy times.   So I sing.

The Original:

Scél lemm dúib   dordaid dam
snigid gaim   ro·fáith sam

Gáeth ard úar   ísel grían
gair a r-rith   ruirthech rían

Rorúad rath   ro·cleth cruth 
ro·gab gnáth   giugrann guth

Ro·gab úacht   etti én
aigre ré   é mo scél

T. H. Parry Williams: Return (From Welsh)

T. H. Parry-Williams
Translated by A. Z. Foreman

The tumults of the world can never move
Heaven's silence. This earth's cries will not distress
The power of the peace which lies above
The great expanse's touchless nothingness. 
All man's and world's commotion here below
Cannot disturb that peace, will never purl
The distances whose turns and courses so
Impose pure quiet in their rapid whirl.
And as our journeying with all we are
From our birth-wail until the final whine
Is but time's ripple, shadow of a scar
On that vast muteness, mild and superfine,
Forever fleeing this foolish bother, we
Slip back into that great tranquility.

Me reading the original Welsh:

The Original:


Ni all terfysgoedd daear byth gyffroi
distawrwydd nef; ni sigla lleisiau’r llawr
rymuster y tangnefedd sydd yn toi
diddim diarcholl yr ehangder mawr;
ac ni all holl drybestod dyn a byd
darfu’r tawelwch nac amharu dim
ar dreigl a thro’r pellterau sydd o hyd
yn gwneuthur gosteg â’u chwyrnellu chwim.
Ac am nad ydyw’n byw ar hyd y daith,
o gri ein geni hyd ein holaf gŵyn,
yn ddim ond crych dros dro neu gysgod craith
ar lyfnder esmwyth y mudandod mwyn,
ni wnawn, wrth ffoi am byth o’n ffwdan ffôl,
ond llithro i’r llonyddwch mawr yn ôl.

March of the New Army (From Ukrainian)

Someone asked me if I could write a singable English version of this song. (You can listen to it here). I just sat down and banged this out. Replaced "Caucasus" with "Donbas" in the final stanza. 

March of the New Army
Adapted by Oleg Skrypka from lyrics by Oles Babiy
Adapted into English by A.Z. Foreman

We were born of a great and bloody hour
From flames of war and from the smoking gun
And fed on pain for our Ukraine in danger
And raised on rage at what our foes had done

So on we go for victory to battle
Like granite, hard, unshattering, and right
Tears have not yet won anyone his freedom
The world belongs to men who stand and fight

There's one great lesson to defend a nation 
That our proud call to all our people sings:
Be faithful to the homeland till they kill you. 
Ukraine for us. Ukraine above all things.

Our fallen blood leads us again to battle
Our highest order is our sacred task:
A free Ukraine, united and unbroken.
Forever free, from Lviv to the Donbas.

The Original:

Зродились ми великої години, 
З пожеж війни і полум’я вогнів. 
Плекав нас біль за долю України, 
Зростив нас гнів і лють на ворогів.

Ми йдемо в бій переможним ходом, 
Тверді й міцні, незламні мов граніт, 
Бо плач не дав нікому ще свободи, 
Хто борець, той здобуває світ.

Велику суть для усіх єдину, 
Наш гордий клич народові несе 
Вітчизні будь ти вірний до загину
Нам Україна вище понад все!

Веде нас в бій героїв наших слава. 
Для нас закон найвищий то наказ: 
«Соборна Українська є держава — 
Одна навік: від Сяну по Кавказ»

Vasyl Stus: A Hundred Years (From Ukrainian)

A Hundred Years Since Sich Went Down
By Vasyl' Stus
Translated by A. Z. Foreman

A hundred years since Sich* went down.
Siberia. Cells in Solovkí**.
And dead of night wraps right around
A hellhole land and hellish scream.

A hundred years of tortured dreams,
Of expectations, faith and blood
Of sons all branded for their love,
A hundred hearts like blazing beams.

And from their bast shoes they grow up,
From cossack breeches on the plain,
From smokey huts slaves grow to sons
Of their one mother, their Ukraine.

You will no longer perish, stout
Land sacked and slaved for centuries. 
Oppressors cannot choke you out
With Siberias or Solovkís.

You are still suffering in pain,
You are still ripped and raggedy,
But, tough already and untamed,
You have stood tall for liberty.

Your mother's milk was anger. Now
You'll get no peace from it. It will 
Keep growing, growing, growing till
The final prison doors go down.

As joyful stormy thunders roar
Lightning bolts from the sky, and words
— Shevchenko's*** prophesying birds —
Over the Dnipro's waters soar.

*Sich - main encampment of the Ukrainian Cossacks until Catherine II ordered it destroyed
** Solovkí — the Solovkí islands were home to an infamous Soviet concentration camp that bore their name. 
***Ukraine's national poet

Audio of me reading the original Ukrainian:

The Original:

Сто років як сконала Січ.
Сибір. І соловецькі келії.
І глупа облягає ніч
пекельний край і крик пекельний.

Сто років мучених надій,
і сподівань, і вір, і крові
синів, що за любов тавровані,
сто серць, як сто палахкотінь.

Та виростають з личаків,
із шаровар, з курної хати
раби зростають до синів
своєї України-матері.

Ти вже не згинеш, ти двожилава,
земля, рабована віками,
і не скарать тебе душителям
сибірами і соловками.

Ти ще виболюєшся болем,
ти ще роздерта на шматки,
та вже, крута і непокірна,
ти випросталася для волі,

ти гнівом виросла. Тепер
не матимеш од нього спокою,
йому ж рости і рости, допоки
не упадуть тюремні двері.

І радісним буремним громом
спадають з неба блискавиці,
Тарасові провісні птиці —
слова шугають над Дніпром.

Hryhoriy Chubay: Half a Breath (From Ukrainian)

Half a Breath
By Hryhoriy Chubay
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

When I am half a breath off from your lips,
When I am half a step away from you you — 
Your pupils are all woven out of wonder
And in your eyes it's all boundless and blue

You whisper something quiet and bewitched.
That whisper bluely cuts my quiet through
And I forget that I know how to breathe,
And I forget my feet can walk to you. 

Your eyelids' raven rises black in flight
And whisks my confidence somewhere remote,
Now half a step is left behind unwalked
And half a breath is stuck here in my throat.

Your pupils are all woven out of wonder
And in your eyes it's all boundless and blue
But there is half a breath left to your lips
And half a step left from my lips to you.    

Recording of the Original:

The Original:

Коли до губ твоїх
Григорій Чубай

Коли до губ твоїх лишається півподиху,
Коли до губ твоїх лишається півкроку -
Зіниці твої виткані із подиву,
В очах у тебе синьо і широко.

Щось шепчеш зачаровано і тихо ти,
Той шепіт мою тишу синьо крає.
І забуваю я, що вмію дихати,
І що ходити вмію, забуваю.

А чорний птах повік твоїх здіймається
І впевненість мою кудись відмає.
Неступленим півкроку залишається,
Півподиху у горлі застрягає.

Зіниці твої виткані із подиву,
В очах у тебе синьо і широко,
Але до губ твоїх лишається півподиху,
До губ твоїх лишається півкроку.

Taras Shevchenko: Testament (From Ukrainian)

Taras Shevchenko 
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

When I die, then bury me
On a rolling plain.
Raise my barrow in the soil
Of my dear Ukraine
With the wheatfields and the cliffs
Of a plunging shore
In my sight, where I can hear
The booming Dnipro's roar.

When its seaward waters bear
The invaders' blood
From Ukraine, then I will leave
Field and hill for good.
I will quit it all and fly
Bursting up to God
And say prayers..but till then
I don't know a god.

Bury me then rise again
And shatter your chains.
Stand and water freedom with
Blood from tyrant veins.
Then in a new family,
The great kin of the free, 
Say a kindly, quiet word
In my memory.

 Dec. 25, 1845

Me reading the original:

The Original:

Тарас Шевченко 

Як умру, то поховайте
Мене на могилі
Серед степу широкого
На Вкраїні милій,
Щоб лани широкополі,
І Дніпро, і кручі
Було видно, було чути,
Як реве ревучий.

Як понесе з України
У синєє море
Кров ворожу... отойді я
І лани і гори —
Все покину, і полину
До самого Бога
Молитися... а до того
Я не знаю бога.

Поховайте та вставайте,
Кайдани порвіте
І вражою злою кров’ю
Волю окропіте.
І мене в сем’ї великій,
В сем’ї вольній, новій,
Не забудьте пом’янути
Незлим тихим словом.

Proem to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from Middle English)

I posted a throw-away translation of the first stanza of this rightly celebrated Middle English poem just for kicks on Twitter, and people really liked it. Somebody even commissioned me anonymously to do more of it — for God only knows what reason. Not that I'm not appreciative, of course, but it feels like yet another modern English translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a bit superfluous. I mean, a new version of this thing comes out like every decade, and translating Middle English into modern English feels . And you want yet another? People are weird. Anyway, the complete commission called for the first couple hundred lines, and I'm not posting that much here because reasons. But here's the proem.

On the other hand, most recordings of Middle English literature utterly fail at maintaining what is known about actual Middle English phonology. So, I've included a recording of the two stanzas in the original, in a reconstruction of how English was pronounced in the West Midlands in the late 14th century. 

Proem to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
By the Gawain Poet (duh)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

After the siege and the assault on the city of Troy
When that fortress was felled in flame into ashes
And the knight who crafted the cunning decoys
Was tried for his treachery, the truest on earth,
It was hero Aeneas and his high-born kin
Who went conquering abroad, and became masters
Of well-nigh all the wealth in the Westland Isles.
When Royal Romulus goes careering to Rome
With strength and splendor he sets up the city, 
Which is known even now by the name he gave it,
So too Ticius to Tuscany, constructing townships
And Longobeard to Lombardy where he lay foundations,
And far over the French sea, one Felix Brutus 
On broad-sloping banks founds Britain, where our story
    Where war and woe and wonders
    Have left their many prints,
    Where happiness and horror
    Have cycled ever since. 
And when this Britain was built by that brave noble
Bold lords were bred there, battle-happy men
Who kept turning to trouble with the returning years.
There have been more awful marvels met in that country 
Than any other I know of since the earliest days. 
But of all who there castled,  of the Kings of Britain,
Great Arthur was the noblest, as everyone knows.
And so I aim to call up an epic event
Which has struck many men   as amazingly strange,
One of the weirdest of all the wonders of Arthur,
If you will listen to my lay for a little while
I'll tell it straight as I heard it recited in the hall
    From records rightly written
    With firm and faithful pen,
    Heard loud and long in Britain
    Of old from honest men.

The Original:

Siþen þe sege and þe assaut     watz sesed at troye,
þe borȝ brittened and brent     to brondez and askez
þe tulk þat þe trammes     of tresoun þer wroȝt(e)
watz tried for his tricherie,     þe trewest on erþe:
hit watz ennias þe athel     and his highe kynde
þat siþen depreced prouinces   and patrounes bicome
welneȝe of al þe wele     in þe west iles.
Fro riche romulus to rome     ricchis hym swyþe,
with gret bobbaunce þat burȝ     he biges vpon fyrst(e)
and neuenes hit his aune nome,     as hit now hat(e);
ticius to tuskan     and teldes bigynnes,
langaberde in lumbardie     lyftes vp homes;
and fer ouer þe french flod     felix brutus
on mony bonkkes ful brode     bretayn he settez
                    wyth wynne,
          where werre and wrake and wonder
          bi syþez hatz wont þerinne,
          and oft boþe blysse and blunder
          ful skete hatz skyfted synne.
Ande quen þis bretayn watz bigged    bi þis burn rych(e),
bolde bredden þerinne      baret þat lofden,
in mony turned tyme      tene þat wroȝten.
Mo ferlyes on þis folde      han fallen here oft(e)
þen in any oþer þat I wot      syn þat ilk tyme.
bot of al þat here bult,      of bretaygne kynges,
aye watz arthur þe hendest,      as I haf herde telle.
forþi an aunter in erde      I attle to schewe,
þat a selly in siȝt      summe men hit holden
and an outtrage awenture      of arthurez wonderez.
If ȝe wyl lysten to þis laye      bot on littel quile,
I schal telle hit as tit(e),      as I in toun herde
                    with tonge,
          as hit is stad and stoken
          in stori stif and stronge,
          with lel(e) lettres loken
          in londe so hatz ben longe.

Ghayyar-El ben Ghawth: A Safaitic War Chant (from Old Arabic)

Today we have an ancient Safaitic war chant, a poem discovered and deciphered by Ahmad Al-Jallad at Marabb al-Shurafā', a mudflat in the Ḥarrah of north-eastern Jordan. The inscription is hard to date but probably comes from around the turn of the first centuries BC and AD. 

It seems to me that a Safaitic inscriptional text, especially one this which is thus far unique in its length and register, would have been chanted, given the highly ritualized nature. (Certainly in more recent centuries that seems to have been — and to a degree still is — the traditional Bedouin practice.) So I did that here in reading the original text. I offer my own translation, composed for readability.

Safaitic War Chant
By Ghayyar-El(?)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

By Ghayyar-El son of Ghawth of the line of Hathay, from when he left his folk

      Now let him camp for war
            So be his final campment here today
      Fame for him is first
          So be his final campment here today
      He suffers who returns
         So be his final campment here today

He made for the marchlands, and alighted in the heath. There he kept watch for his uncle Sakran, exalting him with "Fortune be his". 
So keep him safe, Allāt.

The Original:
(Tracing done by Al-Jallad)

𐩡𐩶𐩺𐩧𐩱𐩡𐩨𐩬𐩶𐩻𐩹𐩱𐩡𐩢𐩼𐩺𐩥𐩧𐩢𐩡 𐩣𐩱𐩠𐩡𐩠

Bertolt Brecht: Questions from a Worker who Reads (From German)

Questions from a Worker who Reads History
Bertolt Brecht
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Who built seven-gated Thebes?
The books keep the names of kings. 
Was it kings who hauled the chunks of rock?
And Babylon, destroyed and redestroyed,
Who built and rebuilt it all those times? In what houses
Of gold-gleaming Lima did its builders live? 
Where did the masons go that evening
When the Great Wall of China 
Was done? Great Rome 
Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Whom 
Did the Caesars triumph over? Did much-hymned Byzantium
Have only palaces for all who lived there? Even in legended Atlantis
The night the sea devoured it, the drowning still
Shouted for their slaves. 

Young Alexander conquered India.
All by himself? 
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Had he not so much as a cook with him? 
Philip of Spain wept when his Armada
Went down. Did nobody else weep?
Frederick II won the Seven Years' War. Who
Besides him won it? 
A victory every page
Who cooked the victory feasts?
A great man every decade
Who paid the bill?

So many reports
So many questions

The Original:

Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters
Bertolt Brecht

Wer baute das siebentorige Theben?
In den Büchern stehen die Namen von Königen.
Haben die Könige die Felsbrocken herbeigeschleppt?
Und das mehrmals zerstörte Babylon
Wer baute es so viele Male auf? In welchen Häusern
Des goldstrahlenden Lima wohnten die Bauleute?
Wohin gingen an dem Abend, wo die Chinesische Mauer fertig war
Die Maurer? Das große Rom
Ist voll von Triumphbögen. Wer errichtete sie? Über wen
Triumphierten die Cäsaren? Hatte das vielbesungene Byzanz
Nur Paläste für seine Bewohner? Selbst in dem sagenhaften Atlantis
Brüllten in der Nacht, wo das Meer es verschlang
Die Ersaufenden nach ihren Sklaven.

Der junge Alexander eroberte Indien.
Er allein?
Cäsar schlug die Gallier.
Hatte er nicht wenigstens einen Koch bei sich?
Philipp von Spanien weinte, als seine Flotte
Untergegangen war. Weinte sonst niemand?
Friedrich der Zweite siegte im Siebenjährigen Krieg. Wer
Siegte außer ihm?

Jede Seite ein Sieg.
Wer kochte den Siegesschmaus?
Alle zehn Jahre ein großer Mann.
Wer bezahlte die Spesen?

So viele Berichte.
So viele Fragen.

François Villon: Ballad of the Hanged (From Middle French)

Ballad of the Hanged
François Villon
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Brother men who live on now we are dead,
Do not look cruelly on our swinging view,
For if you pity us poor men instead 
Then God will be more moved to pity you. 
You see us strung up, five or six guys, who
Overindulged the flesh which here, today,
Has rotted off and gotten pecked away,
As we the bones to ash and powder fall. 
Let none laugh at our horrible decay,
But pray to God that He forgive us all. 

If we dare call you brothers, don't be led
To scorn us. After all, you know it's true
That not all men are equal in the head, 
Though we died justly for what we did do. 
Commend us, since our flesh is cold, unto
The Virgin Mary's son, in hopes He may 
Not let his grace run dry on us. O pray
He keep us from the Hellish thunderball. 
We're dead. Nobody harries us today
But pray to God that He forgive us all. 

The rain has drubbed and laundered us, and red
Sunlight has parched and blackened us clean through. 
Crows, magpies cored the eyes from out our head,
Ripping our beards off and our eyebrows too. 
We can't rest so much as to cuss, wrenched to
And fro. Wherever wind would have us sway,
It flings us constantly in pointless play,
More pocked than thimbles as the birdbeaks maul. 
Brothers, don't join our brotherhood, we say. 
But pray to God that He forgive us all. 

Prince Jesus, in eternal majesty,
Spare us the hold of Satan's mastery.
We want no business by that protocol.
Men, there is no cause here for mockery.
But pray to God that He forgive us all.
The Original:

Ballade des Pendus
François Villon

Freres humains qui après nous vivez,
N'ayez les cuers contre nous endurcis,
Car, se pitié de nous povres avez,
Dieu en aura plus tost de vous mercis.
Vous nous voiez cy attachez cinq, six:
Quant de la char, que trop avons nourrie,
Elle est pieça devoree et pourrie,
Et nous, les os, devenons cendre et pouldre.
De nostre mal personne ne s'enrie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre

Se freres vous clamons, pas n'en devez
Avoir desdaing, quoy que fusmes occis
Parjustice. Toutefois, vous sçavez
Que tous hommes n'ont pas bon sens rassis;
Excusez nous, puis que sommes transis,
Envers le fils de la Vierge Marie,
Que sa grace ne soit pour nous tarie,
Nous preservant de l'infernale fouldre.
Nous sommes mors, ame ne nous harie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre!

La pluye nous a buez et lavez,
Et le soliel dessechiez et noircis;
Pies, corbeaulx nous ont les yeux cavez,
Et arrachié la barbe et les sourcis.
Jamais nul temps nous ne sommes assis;
Puis ça, puis la, comme le vent varie,
A son plaisir sans cesser nous charie,
Plus becquetez d'oyseaulx que dez a couldre.
Ne soiez donc de nostre confrarie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous vueille absouldre

Prince Jhesus, qui sur tous seigneurie,
Garde qu'Enfer n'ait de nous la maistrie:
A luy n'ayons que faire ne que souldre.
Hommes, icy n'a point de mocquerie;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absouldre!

Neruda: Poem XVII from 'One Hundred Love Sonnets' (From Spanish)

Poem XVII from "One Hundred Love Sonnets"
By Pablo Neruda
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Comissioned by Mary Reid Bogue 

I love you not as if you were a rose of salt, topaz
or arrow of fire-popagating carnations:
I love you with the love of certain darkling things,
in secret, in between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that does not flower but bears
within itself concealed, those flowers' light,  
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from earth lives on, and darkly, in my body. 

I love you knowing not how, nor when nor whence,
I love you straightforwardly with neither pride nor problem:
so do I love you because I know no other way to love, 

than in this form in which I am not and you aren't
so close that your hand on my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dream.

If you want to hear me read the original text, head on over here

The Original:

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

Florindo di Monaco: Macchu Picchu (From Latin)

This is one of my favorite Modern Latin short poems of all time, from a cycle of 10 poems titled 'Terrarum Mirabilissima Decem' (the title cannot be properly translated without being absurdly long-winded: 'Ten Things Most Wonderful From Around The World'.)

Machu Picchu
By Florindo di Monaco
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Clouds are wreathed in rays as they blank the stars out,
Shining. Here all time for all time is silent.
Grasping for gods lie the uprisen boulders 
Muted in prayer.

Whither the statecraft of the elder kingdom?
Whither the vanished power of a people?
Mystery harrows the fleeting ages' coward
Hearts now and ever.

The Original:

Cacumina Andina “Alturas de Machu Picchu” dicta

Nūbium candēns prohibet corōna
astra mīrārī. Silet omne tempus.
Caelitēs mūtīs precibus sequuntur
ēdita saxa.

Quō facultātēs soliī suprēmī,
magna quō fūgit populī potestās?
Īnstat arcānum pavidīs fugācis
cordibus aevī.

Homeric Hymn to Ares (From Greek)

Hymn to Ares
(C. 2nd-4th century A.D.)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

God-brawned Ares, gold-helmed driver
of the chariot in the stars.  Stout-spirit shieldman
bronzed in armor!  Bulwark of Olympus,
Guardian of cities  and spear-potent
Father of Victory, the fair wardame!
For-harrowing friend of Justice,
the righteous man's commander in chief,
scepter-master   of manly good
wheeling Your fireball  amid the wayfaring
planets' seven  paths through cosmic
air where Your firesteeds  forever bear You
over the thirdmost orbit immortal.

Hear me, bequeather of brave youth's bloom,
matchless ally  of mortalkind,
blaze a gentle beam from Your planet
straight into our life with strength of war
to finally beat the bite of cowardice
now and ever from out my skull.

Give my mind clout to crush the soul's
treacherous impulse, help me temper
the spirit-furies that spur me into
bloody mayhem, and make me brave
enough to keep within the kindly
laws of peace,  O Lord of War. 
Help me flee the fray of foul rancor,
and dodge the wraiths of a violent death.

The Original:

Ἆρες ὑπερμενέτα, βρισάρματε, χρυσεοπήληξ,
ὀβριμόθυμε, φέρασπι, πολισσόε, χαλκοκορυστά,
καρτερόχειρ, ἀμόγητε, δορισθενές, ἕρκος Ὀλύμπου,
Νίκης εὐπολέμοιο πάτερ, συναρωγὲ Θέμιστος,
ἀντιβίοισι τύραννε, δικαιοτάτων ἀγὲ φωτῶν,
ἠνορέης σκηπτοῦχε, πυραυγέα κύκλον ἑλίσσων
αἰθέρος ἑπταπόροις ἐνὶ τείρεσιν, ἔνθα σε πῶλοι
ζαφλεγέες τριτάτης ὑπὲρ ἄντυγος αἰὲν ἔχουσι:
κλῦθι, βροτῶν ἐπίκουρε, δοτὴρ εὐθαρσέος ἥβης,
πρηὺ καταστίλβων σέλας ὑψόθεν ἐς βιότητα
ἡμετέρην καὶ κάρτος ἀρήιον, ὥς κε δυναίμην
σεύασθαι κακότητα πικρὴν ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῖο καρήνου,
καὶ ψυχῆς ἀπατηλὸν ὑπογνάμψαι φρεσὶν ὁρμήν,
θυμοῦ αὖ μένος ὀξὺ κατισχέμεν, ὅς μ᾽ ἐρέθῃσι
φυλόπιδος κρυερῆς ἐπιβαινέμεν: ἀλλὰ σὺ θάρσος
δός, μάκαρ, εἰρήνης τε μένειν ἐν ἀπήμοσι θεσμοῖς
δυσμενέων προφυγόντα μόθον Κῆράς τε βιαίους.

Horace: Epode 1.7 "Rome's Sons March to Civil War" (From Latin)

Well, I was going to get back to translating Latin poetry eventually wasn't I? Translating the already-overtranslated poets of Graeco-Roman antiquity is for me like eating McDonalds: probably not the best use of my time, but still enjoyable. 

Rome's Sons March to Civil War
By Horace (Epode 1.7)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

What crime are you boys off to now? What are you 
Doing, with blades again in hand? 
Has not enough of Latin blood already
Gushed over sea and land?
Was it so Rome could bring the lording towers
of jumped-up Carthage down in flames,
Was it to take the last free Briton down 
the Sacred Way in slavers' chains?
No. It was this town answering Persia's prayers,
Disemboweling herself alone.
Not even wolves or lions can do this
violence against their own. 
Does blind rage goad you? Or some nastier power
Like guilt? Give me reply. 
Silence. A ghastly pallor dyes their cheeks. 
Their shattered brains in stupor lie. 
And so it goes: cruel fate and fratricide
Drive Romans on in crime,
Ever since blameless Remus' blood was spilled
and brought a curse on all their line.

The Original:

Quō, quō, scelestī, ruitis? aut cūr dexterīs
aptantur ēnsēs conditī?
parumne campīs atque Neptūnō super
fūsum est Latīnī sanguinis?
nōn ut superbās invidae Carthāginis
Rōmānus arcēs ūreret,
intāctus aut Britannus ut dēscenderet
Sacrā catēnātus Viā,
sed ut secundum vōta Parthōrum suā
urbs haec perīret dexterā.
neque hic lupīs mōs nec fuit leōnibus,
numquam nisī in dispār ferīs.
furorne caecus an rapit vīs ācrior
an culpa? respōnsum date!
tacent, et albus ōra pallor īnficit,
mentēsque perculsae stupent.
sīc est: acerba fāta Rōmānōs agunt
scelusque frāternae necis,
ut immerentis flūxit in terram Remī
sacer nepōtibus cruor.