Holy Sonnet XIV: “Batter my heart, three-person’d God” by John Donne

Painting of the young Donne, c. 1595. Artist unknown.

It seems remiss on my part that I’ve written nine poem essays for this site so far and not one of them has been about John Donne. After all, Donne is one of my favorite poets, and one of the writers who got me interested in poetry in the first place.

It’s almost as if there are two John Donnes: there’s the—ahem—eager young poet who wrote racy seduction ballads and there’s the sober old minister examining himself and his conscience before a terrifying though merciful God. Even more fascinating than the fact that this contrast exists in the same poet is when the two personalities overlap, as they do in Holy Sonnet XIV, otherwise known as “Batter my heart, three-person’d God”:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

From the very first word, this poem already has a loud, brash sound that distinguishes it from most of the other Holy Sonnets, and from most sonnets in general: Continue reading “Holy Sonnet XIV: “Batter my heart, three-person’d God” by John Donne”

“L’invitation au voyage” by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Richard Wilbur

Title page to the first edition of Les fleurs du mal with notes by Baudelaire.

Translation can be a controversial topic, and poetry translation is even more so. In any act of translation, the obstacles posed by the two languages’ differing histories, cultural contexts, and nuances of meaning can be almost insurmountable. Add to that the fact that the very existence of a poem depends on its being intimately involved with the features of its own language. Sound, rhythm, denotation, connotation, and even the histories of individual words or phrases can all carry meaning. To move a poem from one language to another and keep the poetic aspects of it is nearly impossible. Some believe that it is impossible. I personally prefer to take a more optimistic view: will Baudelaire in English ever be the same as Baudelaire in French? Of course not. Can we hope that some intrepid Anglophone might create for us, if not the same thing, at least something similar to the experience of Baudelaire in French? I think so.

Wilbur in the 1960s.

An ideal poetry translator should, as far as he is able, respect the form, sound, and wording of the original poem. At the same time, he should make it pleasant to read as English verse. One translator who succeeded marvelously at that was Richard Wilbur. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States, Wilbur is justly heralded for his original poetry, but he has also translated dozens of poets from French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. He never, to my knowledge, published a book dedicated solely to translations, but scattered throughout his collections are gems like “L’invitation au voyage,” works that, without completely sacrificing lexical and formal fidelity, still capture some of the original’s beauty in English.

First, here’s the poem as originally published by Baudelaire in Les fleurs du mal: Continue reading ““L’invitation au voyage” by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Richard Wilbur”

“The Bowl-Maker” by C. P. Cavafy

On this wine-bowl—beaten from the purest silver,
made for Herakleides’ white-walled home
where everything declares his perfect taste—
I’ve placed a flowering olive and a river,
and at its heart, a beautiful young man
who will let the water cool his naked foot
forever. O memory: I prayed to you
that I might make his face just as it was.
What a labour that has turned out to be.
He fell in Lydia fifteen years ago.

[Translated by Don Paterson]

This is a krater. Yes, it’s tin and bronze instead of silver. But it’s beautiful, isn’t it?

For those unfamiliar with him, C. P. Cavafy (born Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis) was a Greek poet who lived from 1863 to 1933. Despite spending most of his life in Egypt, Cavafy was fascinated by his family’s homeland and his poems are filled with influences from Greek history, mythology, and culture. This particular poem describes an imagined scene from ancient Greece of a silversmith hard at work on a new krater, a type of vessel for mixing wine with water.

It’s important to understand how personal this piece of work is for the silversmith. Herakleides may have requested a scene of a young man sitting next to a river, but it seems unlikely that he would ask for a portrait of the smith’s friend specifically. After all, Herakleides is upper class and this silversmith is just a hired craftsman. They travel in different circles, which means that he likely never even met the young man. In that case, it was the silversmith himself who decided to put the man’s portrait on the bowl.

So, if the task is simply to carve a picture of young man, why did he choose to carve this young man? Obviously, a person likes to keep pictures of the people they love, just to remember them by. But I think there is another reason why he might have decided to do this, one that has to do with the deeper ideas underlying this poem. Continue reading ““The Bowl-Maker” by C. P. Cavafy”

Six Poems about Fathers That Aren’t Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

Before I say anything else, let me make it clear that this post’s headline does NOT mean that I think there is anything wrong with “Those Winter Sundays.” On the contrary, Hayden was a genius and that poem is one of the greats. And because it’s so great, it’s starting to become over-familiar. For this list, I wanted to branch out into a few less famous poems, and highlight some modern work that I think is interesting along the way. Sounds OK? Good, let’s begin.

1: “A Letter of Recommendation” by Yehuda Amichai

Like “Those Winter Sundays,” this poem sheds a light on a loving but complicated relationship between a father and a son. Amichai’s poetry often points toward a sort of strained relationship—not necessarily with his father himself but certainly with the beliefs his father gave him and the culture he brought him up in. But in this poem, all of those differences give way to a tenderness that is just as much a part of the son as the Ten Commandments he learned as a child, so ingrained in him now that he can’t help repeating them “like an old tune someone hums to himself.” Continue reading “Six Poems about Fathers That Aren’t Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays””

National Poetry Month 2018

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

In case you didn’t know, April was National Poetry Month in the States. This year, same as last, I decided to celebrate by posting a different poem every day on Twitter. My post collecting all of last year’s poems got a great response, so here I am again with a whole new set of poems!

(There are a few inadvertent repeats from last year. But, as a friend of mine said, some poems are worth repeating.)

April 1: “Lightenings XII” by Seamus Heaney

Though it is technically about Good Friday, I thought it would be fitting to share on Easter too.

From the collection Seeing Things.

April 2: “Spoken For” by Li-Young Lee Continue reading “National Poetry Month 2018”

“Glanmore Sonnets, X” by Seamus Heaney

These past two years, I’ve tremendously enjoying taking part in Reading Ireland Month, the annual blog event celebrating Irish literature, movies, music, and culture, hosted by Cathy Brown and Niall McArdle. I’m afraid this year’s contribution won’t match the volume of last year’s, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy this longish essay on one of my favorite Irish poems.

“Glanmore Sonnets, X”
by Seamus Heaney

I dreamt we slept in a moss in Donegal
On turf banks under blankets, with our faces
Exposed all night in a wetting drizzle,
Pallid as the dripping sapling birches.
Lorenzo and Jessica in a cold climate.
Diarmuid and Grainne waiting to be found.
Darkly asperged and censed, we were laid out
Like breathing effigies on a raised ground.

And in that dream I dreamt—how like you this?—
Our first night years ago in that hotel
When you came with your deliberate kiss
To raise us towards the lovely and painful
Covenants of flesh; our separateness;
The respite in our dewy dreaming faces. Continue reading ““Glanmore Sonnets, X” by Seamus Heaney”

Poems for Valentine’s Day

Image by Gaetano Cessati.

It’s become a yearly tradition now for me to post a list of favorite love poems around Valentine’s Day. Lucky for me that Valentine’s Day should fall on a Wednesday this year! Regardless of how you feel about the holiday in general, I hope that you won’t mind looking over some rather incredible poems on the subject of love.

1: “The Greatest Love” by Anna Swir, translated by Czesław Miłosz and Leonard Nathan

In my humble opinion, Anna Swir never got her due. Among her contemporaries in post-World War II Poland, her work was often regarded as distasteful for the frank way in which it deals with sexuality and the female body. These days, she tends to get overshadowed by her more famous countrymen, poets like Miłosz, Herbert, and Szymborska. Here’s hoping that one of these days, she is finally brought out of the shadows.

Like a lot of Swir’s poetry, this poem is very short, and like Swir’s other poems, its brevity is its strength. She understands that some experiences are too powerful and too far beyond human comprehension to do them justice in words and for this reason, she effaces herself as much as possible and tries to let the experience speak through her instead of her speaking for it.

2: “I Loved You Before I Was Born” by Li-Young Lee

Where Swir writes about a love that endures through long periods of time, Lee has in mind instead a love that transcends time—or at least seems to. The speaker readily admits that what he says “makes no sense, I know,” but that doesn’t keep him from feeling as though his love has always existed and will always exist into eternity.

3: “Love” by Ivan Lalic, translated by Francis R. Jones

As in Lee’s poem, the love in this poem is a thing unto itself, a force that is, in a sense, independent of the two people. Unlike in Lee’s poem, however, this speaker knows full well that his love will die with him or with his lover, and it’s that impending disaster—the catastrophe that will end their way of life—that gives the poem a sort of bitter-sweetness: they know it has to end, but the thought of it ending makes it all the more precious.

4: “Six Years Later” by Joseph Brodsky, translated by Richard Wilbur

For me, this poem pairs well with “Love.” To the couples in both poems, their love is all-encompassing and completely changes the way they live their lives. But where Lalic’s poem has a more ethereal feel to it, Brodsky’s brings the focus closer to the here and now, though the poem is no less beautiful for that. While it can seem a bit abstract a times, concrete details like snow, eyelashes, lips, even crumbling wallpaper help the reader to place this couple in time and space. It’s that middle ground that Brodsky finds between the abstract and the concrete that makes this poem work for me, a kind of compromise that all good poems strike. (I might also add that, although most foreign language poems can’t help but become free verse when they enter English, Wilbur has taken great care to translate this one into a regular meter and to preserve the rhyme scheme of the original poem. So, that’s good.)

5: “Your Telephone Call” by Adam Zagajewski, translated by Renata Gorczynski

Here’s another short and sweet one, also by a Polish author. I’ve written about Zagajewski before and the great subtlety of his work—like Swir before him, he knows how to do more with less.

6: “C Major” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robin Fulton

In addition to his career as a poet, Tranströmer also had a great passion for music, which can be plainly seen in much of his poetry. Here, the very air seems to play music around the lover in this poem, and the whole world is transfigured by his love.

7: “Motive” by Don Paterson

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Don Paterson is one of the greatest living poets in the world. And while his 2009 collection Rain overall left me feeling cold, there are more than a few gems in it, this being one.

Unlike the other poems on this list so far, this one isn’t so much about love itself as it is about a particular lover: her unknowability and unpredictability. It explores the reality that, no matter how close you are to a person, you never completely understand them. I suppose, in a way, you could say that this poem is about any meaningful relationship.

That’s all for now, but do let me know in the comments what some of your favorite love poems are and what you think of these!

The Poets List

I’m always surprised at the ease with which some book bloggers can choose favorites. I find it very difficult to choose just one favorite book, or even one favorite prose writer among the dozens that I read often. Favorite poets, though, is another kettle of fish. After hearing one BookTuber talk about her favorite novel, I realized that, while my list of favorite books or authors is and will probably always be a little hazy, my list of favorite poets is surprisingly clear-cut. I can even rank them, though just a hair’s breadth separates them.

I could spend (and have spent) hours writing about any one of these people, but I’ll try to, as concisely as I can, explain why these three are my favorite poets.

1: Seamus Heaney

Reading Seamus Heaney for the first time marked a sea change for me. Previously, I had—with the exception of W. H. Auden—only read poems 100 years old or older, firmly convinced that all “modern” poetry was post-structuralist crap that was more trouble than it was worth to try to understand. I looked up Heaney after a friend recommended his translation of Beowulf to me. I had never heard of Heaney at this point, and when I read in his translator bio that he had published several collections of poetry, I remember rolling my eyes a little. Oh, another one of those modern poets, I thought. Even so, morbid curiosity led me to look up some of his poems on the Poetry Foundation anyway.

Four years and twelve books later, I have to say that my relationship to poetry is very different, and not just because I’m not engaging in that type of “chronological snobbery” any more. Among other things, reading Heaney changed my ideas about language itself. I was used to talking about the use of “language” in literature and pointing to a specific tone or certain connotations or denotations exploited by the author, but I never really gave much thought to the particular language (perhaps I should say tongue instead) that the poet wrote in: the regional, historical, and social factors that gave rise to his speech. It occurred to me after reading Heaney that, just like the particular words and images themselves, a whole language could be charged with meaning and provide yet another facet with which to reflect the poem’s inner truth.

That then allowed me to better appreciate other poets for whom their mother tongue was an integral part of their identity as poets, particularly Czesław Miłosz.

2: John Donne

I started reading Donne when I was seventeen (an aside for English teachers: if you want teenagers to care about poetry, John Donne is your man). I happened upon this video from a Poetry Out Loud competition of a contestant reciting his “The Canonization.” It was unlike any other poem I had ever read. The rapid-fire show of images and allusions felt like sensory overload, and yet, I loved it. So, I started seeking out other Donne poems. Not only did his strange comparisons and his fast-moving trains of thought continue to delight, but I also found a kindred spirit in his religious poetry. Some Donne fans, I know, tend to think the religious poems are too dark or dour. For me though, at the time, I resonated deeply with Donne’s regret and anxiety in the face of his own sin.

Really, Donne changed my ideas about nearly everything: God, poetry, the body, all of it. The fact that he was willing to embrace subject matter that had previously been deemed “unfit” for poetry showed me how art could encompass all of life and breathe new life into it. His bold declarations of doubt and anxiety regarding his faith, and then his fervent avowal of God’s ultimate power, were a boon to me at a time when I was very doubtful and anxious myself. And his frankness regarding the body in his poetry, and his eagerness to mix the spiritual with the earthly, changed some of the ideas I had previously regarding the place of the physical world in the life of the spirit. In every way, he’s an essential author for me.

3: Czesław Miłosz

Miłosz is the kind of writer I wish I could be, although I know I never will. He has such incredible range in his poetry, taking in the “big picture”—the universal truths underlying the universe and the whole sweeping arc of history—as well as tiny, tactile details of appearance, color, sound, texture. Jane Hirshfield credits him with helping to introduce intellect into modern American poetry—helping make it acceptable for a poet to think out loud in his poems—and I appreciate that aspect of his work too. Like Donne’s metaphysical poems, his embrace of intellect and philosophical themes broadens the horizons of poetry even further.

And then there’s another aspect of his work that I barely even know how to describe: a feeling that I get not just about it, but about everything else after I’ve read it. Adam Zagajewski came close to describing this feeling in a poem titled, aptly enough, “Reading Miłosz”:

Sometimes your tone
transforms us for a moment,
we believe—truly—
that every day is sacred

that poetry—how to put it? —
makes life rounder,
fuller, prouder, unashamed
of perfect formulation.

When I read Miłosz, I get the idea that there’s a whole other dimension to human life—to the life of the mind, the spirit, even of the body—that I didn’t know about before. That sounds very strange, I’m sure, but that’s as well as I can express it.

And there you have it: my three favorite poets of all time. Who are yours? What do think of these three? Let me know in the comments.

“Epistle” by Li-Young Lee

Of wisdom, splendid columns of light
waking sweet foreheads,
I know nothing

but what I’ve glimpsed in my most hopeful daydreams.
Of a world without end,

I know nothing,
but what I sang of once with others,
all of us standing in the vaulted room.

But there is wisdom
in the hour in which a boy
sits in his room listening

to the sound of weeping
coming from some other room
of his father’s house,

and that boy was me, and he
listened without understanding, and was soon frightened
by how the monotonous sobs resembled laughter.

All of this while noon became vast day,
while sunlight and the clock
gave birth to melancholy,

before the days grew vacant,
the sun grew terrible, the clock stopped,
and melancholy gave up to grief.

All of this
in a dead hour of a dead day,
among doors closed for nap or prayer.

Who was weeping? Why?
Did the boy fall asleep?
Did he flee that house? Is he there now?

Before it all gets wiped away, let me say,
there is wisdom in the slender hour
which arrives between two shadows.

It is not heavenly and it is not sweet.
It is accompanied by steady human weeping,
and twin furrows between brows,

but it is what I know,
and so am able to tell.

As I wait impatiently for Li-Young Lee’s latest poetry collection The Undressing to come out in February, I’ve been revisiting some of his older work. Rose, published in 1986, was his first book and contains some of my favorites of his poems, among them “From Blossoms” and “Irises.” I didn’t give much thought to “Epistle,” the collection’s opening poem, the first time I read it, but this time, I found it much more compelling. Even the title alone is evocative: the word “epistle” is so seldom used these days outside of a religious context (the Epistles of St. Paul, and so forth) that it’s hard to divorce it from the idea of something timeless. At the same time, “epistle” is just another word for a letter, the intimate correspondence of the writer to his reader. By calling this poem an “epistle,” Lee identifies it both as an address to all people, meant to convey truth, and as a more intimate experience, that of the writer sharing his own unique vision with his readers on a one-to-one basis. If a poem is good, it should be for all times and all people, but also for the individual.

This ties into the main theme of the poem, namely the growth of a young person as he tries to learn about the world. In the opening stanzas, the speaker is thinking of a church, where he used to pray (“… a world without end, / amen”) and sing hymns, with “all of us standing in the vaulted room.” The later stanzas, however, find him in his father’s house, listening to someone weeping in another room. One experience is public, shared with others and performed similarly by countless millions all over the world. The other is unique and private: he might have been the only one in the house that day, and the only one who could hear that weeping. And yet in both experiences, there is wisdom. These two forces—religion and his family’s grief—are the two wellsprings from which his wisdom comes, and therefore, the source of the wisdom that is to be found in his poems. Something specific and private, without the validation of any outside authority,  becomes the means of granting him some truth.

I think that’s what poetry—and literature more broadly—tends to do: bring the personal and temporal in contact with the universal and the eternal. The father’s rising early to light the fireplace and polish the shoes is a first lesson in what it means to truly love a person. A bird flying becomes a sort of messenger from God. And in countless love poems, the beloved or the love itself becomes a way of understanding and internalizing truth.

So what was the truth that the speaker gleaned from his experience of another person’s grief? He doesn’t say in so many words. Only that “It is not heavenly and it is not sweet. / It is accompanied by steady human weeping, / and twin furrows between brows”. I like that he leaves that hole in his story, so that the reader, if so inclined, can fill it in with his own ideas or his own experiences. It becomes yet another way of deepening the intimacy between writer and reader. Now, the reader is not only a passive observer in this situation, but an active participant as well. That’s one of the things I love about Lee, the regard he has for his readers. He understands that they, like him, are seeking wisdom and he encourages them to take part in his journey toward it.

“Christmas Eve” by Christina Rossetti

Image by Aaron Burden.

Hello, all. I’m sure you’re super busy this week. I am too. That’s why I’m just dropping in to say Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and please read this poem. Christina Rossetti is always great, of course, but I’ve especially been enjoying her Advent poems lately.

“Christmas Eve”
by Christina Rossetti

Christmas hath a darkness
    Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
    Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
    Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
   Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
   Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
    For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
    Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
    Brought for us so low.

On Translated Poetry

Thanks to Clarissa Akyroyd for pointing me toward this article from Cordite Poetry Review. It’s a little on the long side, but very good, so definitely check it out if you have the time. In case you don’t, the article deals mainly with the presentation of translated poetry in academia and the biases that prevent critics and academics from taking it seriously. The author, Johannes Göransson, describes academics as having a sort of idealized vision of what a poem should be, one that, to them, precludes the poem’s truly existing in other languages. This mindset, he says, arises from two concerns: first, that of “faithfulness” to the original text, and second, that students and younger poets will lack the necessary background knowledge to understand translated poems in their proper social and historical context.

Of course, there’s no denying that a poem’s form is often significantly changed in the process of translation. (For an idea of how much a poem can change between two languages, read this article by Ann Kjellberg on Joseph Brodsky and the features of the Russian language that make Russian poets so hard to translate.) There will always be rhymes discarded, rhythms flattened, and wordplay that is lost. True, a valiant translator can find ways to preserve the music of the original in another language, but then often the literal meaning is changed. There isn’t really anything that can completely take the place of the original. But does this mean that we have nothing to gain from translations? I don’t think so, for reasons I will explain in a moment.

It’s also true that cultural difference adds another layer of complexity to foreign poetry. Even after the words themselves have been translated, you might still be left with cultural and historical references that lose their significance once they leave their own borders. Even trickier from some readers is trying to get inside the head of a poet whose upbringing, worldview, and system of values may be very different from their own.

In a way, though, that’s the point: we read poetry for many reasons, but one of the most important is so that it can broaden the horizons of our minds, instead of couching us in what is already safe and familiar. There’s “too much world”1 for us to take it all in by ourselves: we need other points of view, as many as we can get, if we want to form a fuller picture of ourselves and of existence. Reading translated poetry gives you that, while also giving you a glimpse into what is common between all people. It sets a people apart while also illuminating the things that transcend culture, creed, ethnicity, race, and time.

It confuses and slightly alarms me that the prejudice against translated poetry would be so strong in academia. More than ever, academics claim to be concerned with diversity, so it’s strange that, when it comes to non-English poetry, some of them will actively discourage diversity. Context and respect for other cultures are important, and as readers, we should want to increase our understanding of the world by learning (even if it’s only a little bit) about the cultures and time periods whose literature we read. But the concern about “improper influence,” as the article calls it, shouldn’t be allowed to suppress the poetry it claims to protect. Otherwise, we say to the rest of the world that only people who are like us have anything worthwhile to say to us. We deny the coherence of human nature in favor of a linguistic tribalism.

1 From “The Separate Notebooks” by Czesław Miłosz, translated by Renata Gorczynski and Robert Hass, Selected Poems: 1931 – 2004 by Czesław Miłosz published by HarperCollins, 2006.

Poets in Translation

While you might already be celebrating Nonfiction November, as a few bloggers are, author and editor Molly Spencer has declared November Translated Poetry Month. As she explained on Twitter, the idea is simply to “Read & share the work of poets who’ve been translated into the language(s) you read. The goal is for all of us to read more widely than if left to our usual tendencies.” So who should you read for Translated Poetry Month? I have a few suggestions.

Yehuda Amichai (Hebrew, 1924 – 2000) – One of Israel’s foremost modern poets, Amichai is concision and understatement together with deep lyricism. Favorites are “Near the Wall of a House,”My Father Was God,” and “A Pity, We Were Such a Good Invention.”

C. P. Cavafy (Greek, 1863 – 1933) – Lively, lucid, passionate. A Greek poet with a fondness for personae and ancient civilizations. Favorites are “Ithaca,” “Craftsman of Wine Bowls,” and “’The rest I’ll speak of to the ones below in Hades.’”

Paul Celan (German, 1920 – 1970) – A Romanian poet writing in German. Though his poems are often very dark, drawing upon his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, they also have a kaleidoscopic beauty to them that’s seldom matched. Favorites are “Line the wordcaves,” “Flower,” “An Eye, Open,” “Threadsuns,” and “Corona.”

Robert Desnos (French, 1900 – 1945) – Known as one of the founders of Surrealism, Desnos alternates between funny and breathtakingly beautiful. Favorites of his include “The Landscape” (a “version” by Scottish poet Don Paterson), “Like a Hand at the Moment of Death,” and “The Pelican.”

Czesław Miłosz (Polish, 1911 – 2004) – Of course. He’s one of my favorite poets, translated or not. Some especially good poems of his are “Winter,”A Song on the End of the World,” “Veni Creator,” “Esse,” and “The Separate Notebooks” (a very long poem; there’s an excerpt of it here and more here).

Rainer Maria Rilke (German, 1875 – 1926) – A veritable poetry god, and very mystical; read “The Panther,” Sonnets to Orpheus, and “The Archaic Torso of Apollo.”

Anna Swir (a.k.a. Anna Świrszczyńska) (Polish, 1909 – 1984) – Underrated in her own day and overshadowed in ours, Anna Swir was writing about specifically feminine experiences long before such writing was common. Her poems tend to be short and understated, but with tremendous power behind them. Try “The Greatest Love,” “Thank You, My Fate,” “I Wash the Shirt,” and “There Is Light in Me.”

Adam Zagajewski (Polish, 1945 – ) – Sort of a mystic; being a student of Miłosz, he sees spiritual depth in practically everything. Favorites are “Autumn,” “Mysticism for Beginners,“Do Not Allow the Lucid Moment to Dissolve,” and “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.”

Have you read any of these poets? Which translated poets do you recommend? Let me know in the comments.