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TRANS: a "Language Poem" & some other poems

From:J Y S Czhang <czhang23@...>
Date:Sunday, February 16, 2003, 7:07
    Here is a 1978 poem by the poet Bob Perelman who is identified with the
"Language Poetry" group/school of poetics which has further mined-&-refined
the Futurist and Dadaist aesthetics of rupture with the "textuality" (or
"schizophrenic fragmentation") of Postmodernism.
    IMMHO I think it it is an excellent, elegantly simple poem to translate
into ConLangs... (Of course, I am delighted with the subtle - and enigmatic,
vague - references and allusions throughout the poem to modern Chinese
history...) :


We live on the third world from the sun. Number three. Nobody tells us what
to do.
The people who taught us to count were being very kind.
It's always time to leave.
If it rains, you either have your umbrella or you don't.
The wind blows your hat off.
The sun rises also.
I'd rather the stars didn't describe us to each other; I'd rather we do it for
Run in front of your shadow.
A sister who points to the sky at least once a decade is a good sister.
The landscape is motorized.
The train takes you where it goes.
Bridges among water.
Folks straggling along vast stretches of concrete, heading into the plane.
Don't forget what your hat and shoes will look like when you are nowhere to
be found.
Even the words floating in air make blue shadows.
If it tastes good we eat it.
The leaves are falling. Point things out.
Pick up the right things.
_Hey guess what?_   What?   _I've learned how to talk._   Great.
The person whose head was incomplete burst into tears.
As it fell, what could the doll do? Nothing.
Go to sleep.
You look great in shorts. And the flag looks great too.
Everyone enjoyed the explosions.
Time to wake up.
But better get used to dreams.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
    now for 3 other poems... (all 3 from David Crystal's _The Cambridge
Encyclopedia of the English Language_)...
-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

    Bring Many Names

Bring many names, beautiful and good;
celebrate, in parable and story,
    holiness in glory,
    living, loving God.
Hail and Hosanna,
bring many names!

Strong mother God, working night and day,
planning all the wonders of creation,
    setting each equation,
    genius at play:
Hail and Hosanna,
strong mother God!

Warm father God, hugging every child,
feeling all the strains of human living,
    caring and forgiving
    till we're reconciled:
Hail and Hosanna,
warm father God!

Old, aching God, grey with endless care,
calmly piercing evil's new disguises,
    glad of good surprises,
    wiser than despair:
Hail and Hosanna,
old, aching God!

Young, growing God, eager still to know,
willing to be changed by what you've started,
    quick to be delighted,
    singing as you go:
Hail and Hosanna,
young, growing God!

Great, living God, never fully known,
joyful darkness far beyond our seeing,
    closer yet than breathing,
    everlasting home:
Hail and Hosanna,
great, living God!

                - Brian Wren, 1989

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

--- from _Litany for the Ghetto_ by Robert Castle, 1967:

O God, who hangs on street corners, who
tastes the grace of cheap wine and the sting
of the needle,

Help us to touch you...

O God, whose name is spick, black-nigger,
bastard, guinea and kike,

Help us to know you...

O God, who lives in tenements, who goes to
segregated schools, who is beaten in precincts,
who is unemployed,

Help us to know you...

O God, who is cold in the slums of winter,
whose playmates are rats - four-legged ones
who live with you and two-legged ones who
imprison you,

Help us to touch you...

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

--- a poem by David Crystal, 1981, 1986 (yes, that David Crystal, the
author/editor of _The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language_, _The Cambridge
Encyclopedia of the English Language_, etc.):


Sometimes I can feel You
    burrowing at night,
    with Your powerful digging claws
    and Your long tubular snout
    and Your long sticky tongue,
Rooting out the ants and termites in my mind.

I'd love to like all creatures great and small,
But that ain't easy, when they're ants.
We're brought up to hate ants,
To exterminate them with boiling water
Or velly efficient Japanese lemedy
Nippooning them at their last supper.
The earth pig's way is better,
But not so practicable, in Gwynedd.

I wish I could exterminate
    my mind-bending termites
    with the ease of the earth pig,
    but each time I get one,
    another hundred come,
Especially in the daytime.

Why don't You burrow in the daytime as well?

I expect You would if I'd let You.
I do mean to let You.
But I forget.

Hanuman Zhang, Sloth-Style Gungfu Typist  ;) &  lingua-mang(a)leer
"the sloth is a chinese poet upsidedown" --- Jack Kerouac {1922-69}

    "The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language,
and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of
human comprehension." - Ezra Pound

    "One thing foreigners, computers, and poets have in common
is that they make unexpected linguistic associations." --- Jasia Reichardt

    "There is no reason for the poet to be limited to words, and in fact the
poet is most poetic when inventing languages. Hence the concept of the poet
as 'language designer'."  --- O. B. Hardison, Jr.

"La poésie date d' aujour d'hui."   (Poetry dates from today)
"La poésie est en jeu."             (Poetry is in play)
                --- Blaise Cendrars