Poetry (Verse)

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A Pair of Acrostics

This pair of acrostics is written without the second half, which would end up giving away a complete name. I might include an verse written in Spanish, if the surname can be changed without violating the essence of the rhyme.

The first version, not necessarily the first one written, shows a someone pessimistic fellow.  Now, just for fun, in case someone tries to make a psychoanalysis of the writer, be it known, that alterations might have been made for the deliberate confusion of the analyst.

Reeling round within my mind,
Order do I seek,
Softly spoken is my find,
Even though my hopes are bleak.

Many other girls abound,
And some are almost sweet,
Rarely ones as you are found,
Your pleasures at your feet.

 Now follows another acrostic, this one more optimistic.  Nevertheless, female readers are cautioned that the last two or three lines do not reflect the nature of the author.  He believes that, in the supposed words of John Sutter or James Marshall, of the California Gold Rush fame, “Talkers ain’t doers”.  If “talkers” includes writers, this author either isn’t a doer, or he is, and the writing, just banal.

Roaring, hungry lion, say
Or do whate'er you may,
So that you'll be satisfied,
Even though my love you hide,
Many other girls abide, 
And surely if I harder tried, 
Reams of others'd be at my side,
Yielding then, and you defied.

It Never Rained

A year or two later, the following was penned.

The month was May, 
And every day, 
I tried to say, 
"Hello, Good Day". 
To say, I sought - But it was not 
In the month of May. 

The month was June 
And I said soon 
I must try, 
To say "Goodbye". 
Return obtained, 
It never rained 
(In the month of June).

On a Girl Surnamed Gallo.

This was written at university.

Gallo, I hear, is "rooster" in Italian;
A rooster - a "coq",
But that would mock
A 'lady': a coquette, 
Not to be taken seriously.
Oh, these birds:
A coquette; NachtiGALL (a NightinGALe)
Mockingbirds, naughty gals!

The last 3 lines are a contemporary additon, to add more wordplay, while resisting the temptation to include the words “hen” and “chick”. Living in Latin America, I am well aware that “gallo” has the same meaning in Spanish. To minimize controversy, with the plus of adding linguistic diversity, a French word has replaced the bird which crowed thrice in the King James and Douay Bibles.

Invitation (Spanish Love Poem) / Invitación (Poema de amor)

Mis ojos no inspeccionan [a] cada argentina
¡Ojo! – Pero se regocijan de verte –
No piden permiso – reposan, e
Infunden mi alma de tu hermosura –
¿Codiciarían tanto al conocernos?
¿Anhelaría yo a quien veo, ojos abiertos o cerrados?

Pax tecum, señorita bonita,
Argentino no soy – las costumbres desconozco –
Brillo más por las ondas que el ojo no discierne –
Lento, y lerdo, si te parezco –
Obviamente, son los nombres de solo dos facetas…

Ya hecho las presentaciones, voy en serio a rimar.
¡Qué nadie se atreve a las intenciones buenas difamar!
No es la cultura popular lo que mi vida va a guiar,
Las tramas televisivas y novelescas no son de fiar.
El bueno y el malo que soy no llegarán a tanto;
Menos tecnócrata soy que pecador o santo,
Pero sé lo que pretendo ser, y por cual ruta navegar –
La única pregunta es, si con otra habrá que llegar.

Si te queda alguna duda de mi manera de obrar
Preguntáte – ¿Quién tanto tiempo va a gastar
Tanta palabrería con el solo fin de invitar
A una mujer con él una taza de café a tomar?

Además, nunca fui, y todavía es de mi parecer
Que, en primer lugar, no soy Gustavo Becquer,
Y, segundo, que mis mejores trabajos no deben ver
Sino aquella que me definiese de amigo predilecto, ¡mujer!

Added on June 20, 2018.

Fin-de-siècle (ca. 2000)

The purpose of the following was partly didactic, as a pronunciation exercise for someone learning English.  It does, however, reflect, to some degree, the author’s thinking (when properly interpreted).

Though you may throw
 Crumbs through the window
 And have had the thought
 That what you've been taught
 Should ALSO be thus thrown
 Out, as to dogs a bone -
 For now, as Bourbons of the throne
 Learning's dethroned, now it lies prone.
 Yes, with it the world's through
 And only idiot-savants, though few,
 Thought to keep what you throw
 Under the feet of the motley crew,
 Which for now-wasted wisdom it gives no thought.
 Let learning's stands of books all rot
 Through and through - their readers too!
 And nevermore arise anew!
 Although inquiry to blossom tries,
 The vandal all its fruit denies -
 Pray, these things you haven't thought
 Through, thought too, though just a tot.
 Alas!  How tough's this fin-de siècle lot -
 Naught awes - just rough's the thought.

 

 Limerick

About a year ago, I wrote the following limerick for my article on Rye Bread, a Wry Story.

In Praise of Kvass [квас]

A “Quasi” Limerick.

There was a Lady O’Reilly
Who described bran bread rather shyly
But drank down the kvass
In a fine crystal glass
And praised the product most highly.

A Verse in the Rhine [Rhenish] Franconian (Rheinfränkisch) Dialect

I have no idea as to the authorship of this little verse, which is not my own.  After several years of trying to establish exactly what kind of dialect I speak natively in German, it seems most logical to believe in to be Rhine Franconian, based on maps and similarity to the grammar I use instinctively. It was recited by my father, and I include it here, first, because I have not found it on the web, and second, because I translated it as follows further below.

Ach, Du lieber Gott im Himmel,
In de Wiese wächst de Kimmel,
We’ mer backe, ha’ mer Brot,
We’ mer sterbe, si’ mer Tod.

Kimmel is Kümmel, German for caraway seed. As in British English, the final “r” of words is not pronounced. “Mer” is dialect for “wir”. I offer the following as a translation, the second line being extremely freely translated, as otherwise the rhyme would be difficult to achieve. Literally, it is, “In the meadow grows the caraway.” The last two lines are literally translated. Apologies if this is considered blasphemous, to try to minimize this possibility, the first line was changed to suggest the Lord’s Prayer, especially in the context of what follows.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Give us caraway for our leaven,
When we bake, have we our bread,
When we die, why, then we’re dead!

OCEAN OF FALL

I would like to post two translations of works, one, a German medieval poem, the other, by Lermontov. (These were pending.)

After four and a half years, inside a box not looked into previously, we now can give the following.

The following verse based on Lermontov, attempts to associate meaning with similar sounding words, more or less melded. The original title in Russian is “Fall”, or “Autumn”. It reminded me of an equally short poem I had written during my first university year with artistic materials, including gold leaf background for the first letter. All I remember of it is:

The falling leaves
A sign of death
A last breath
‘Fore cruel winter.

In line with the other mnemonics of our verse, the title is changed in the following. It is important to remember that it is not a translation
as such. It is probably my only foray into blank verse. It is accompanied with the original pre-revolutionary spelling. Sounds selected in the Russian and placed into the English (more or less) have been marked.  Sometimes a (partial) translation is combined with the similar-sounding English word, cf. полѣ: pall the earth, поле: pall the ground;  бору: borrowed from pine-forests; while other times, the emphasis is on etymological connections, such as with Ночью: nights and неволѣ; not willingly.  I think the effect is modernistic.

OCEAN OF FALL ОСЕНЬ
Leaves (as ships) list, pall the earth, jell-o yellow,
Crushéd, spun, and let tumble,
Hardly less, borrowed from pine-forests,
                                      panic-bent; jewels
Celery green, dark, morose. Crown grand-stands
Under pods, knavish overhangs, scaly rocks.
Ouch! Snake does not love ‘mid flowers.
Packer, farmer, out-docks for a while
Out half-a-day, mid-day toils of truth,
Sever tiger outwits; but not wllingly
To scat, with rate, anywhere, a specialist is hurries
The nights of the month tusk gloomily,
                      and the pall of the ground
Sick was – too many fogs hardly lessened silver brains.
Листья въ полѣ пожелтѣли,
И кружатся, и летятъ;
Лишь въ бору
                 поникши ели
Зелень мрачную хранатъ.
Подъ нависшею скалою
Ужъ не любитъ, межъ цвѣто въ,
Пахарь отдыхать порою
Отъ полуденныхъ трудовъ.
Звѣрь отважный поневолѣ
Скрыться гдѣ-нибудь спѣшитъ;
Ночью мѣсяцъ
      тусклъ и поле
Сквозь туманъ лишь серебритъ.

Etymologically, we see in the title a link, unsubstantiated anywhere else, between the word Russian word for Autumn, and the English synonym for Fall.  Perhaps this is nothing more than a ridiculous comparison, akin to the idea in spelling reform that fish be spelt ghoti  The “au” is “o” in sound, compare Spanish otoño, and the Russian.  The “t” soften to a silibant, compare Spanish nación for nation, so we have the “s” sound in Russian.  Vowels are interchangeable.  “Mn” in autumn seems like a redundancy, both letters are nasals, as is the “ñ” of Spanish, and the Russian combination нь is equivalent.  Other etymologies merely trace both the Spanish and the English back to Latin.  The Proto-Indoeuropean root (American Heritage Dictionary version) seems to be a suffixed form of es- or (e)su-.

A Miller Teaches Law to his Son [Der Müller mit dem Studenten]

The following is a translation made one summer afternoon from a text from a time when the University of Buenos Aires had what looked like a good German faculty. It is attributed to a German minstrel, Hans Sacks. The old German text can be found on line, but may deviate from the one I have stored away.

Some words of the handwriting could not be deciphered, and it should be noted, that rhyme took precedence over literalness. The lack of stanzas corresponds with the original. The true title is (as translated), The Miller and the Student. We leave the German title as it was, but preface the translation with a more meaningful name.

Near Munich was a miller found
His “Great Mill” corn to flour ground.
Well-off was he, with son as heir
The latter with wit more than fair
And later off to school was sent.
There studied he with firm intent.
With basic studies soon he ceased
And as it was, there was this priest –
His uncle – in the neighb’ring town
Who to the miller said, “The gown
‘S what the child should study for
Because his mind is fit for more –
The Chair’s in a good faculty
So send him on for a degree.”
The miller felt, down in his gut
His son should go to Ingolstadt,
And to this end he did proceed,
But often, Father had to read
The letters that his son sent home
Requesting money for a tome,
Of which the student had a lot.
A lawyer’s robe is what he sought.
Expenses meant a loss in gain
For Father Miller – even pain.
So three years had his son to learn,
When ordered homeward to return.
The purpose was to sound him out
To see what studies were about
To which money had been put
And once the son had put his foot
Inside the house, his father said
Much cost was had to have you head
To school. At least,you should go far.
Now show me where your textbooks are.
One book the name of Codex had,
The father soon took from the lad –
Its central text was badly writ
While margins smaller words did fit,
So when the book was open seen
With words writ bold, but rather mean.
The father wondered at his find
That here there were two of a kind
The letters – they were wee or tall
And thus bemused his son did call
For comment. Of course, his son then told
That texts have letters written bold
But tiny words which margins cross
Are subsequently known as gloss.
The miller said, “Now, son of mine,
Of Latin I don’t know a line,
That is to say, what’s text or gloss
So German speak, or I’m at a loss”.
To this, the son did answer quick,
“O Father, see, the letters thick
Are merely text and nothing more,
The minute words the gloss do store.
The truth is found in letters great
As was decreed at early date
By King of Kings who all ruled well.
Decrees and Laws all justly fell
From emperor’s counts with reasoned rhyme
Lamentably, with so much passing of the time
Each learnéd man to his incline
In margins or between the line
Wrote how the truth was understood
And how the laws one manage should.
As years went on, grew points of view,
At times, from truth, they went askew
With commentaries filled with dross
And this is what we call a gloss”.
Though this was not the miller’s taste,
To answer this, he made no haste;
Said, “Son, do hark to what I say
Your uncle priest will e’en today
For you here come, in Latin meet,
And thereupon you’ll talk and eat.
You’ll lunch, though he you’ll analyze,
Did you your days and gold use wise,
In manner fit for you and I,
If value gained is truly high?
The student, off to lunch he went.
The miller, passion all unspent
Now takes the Codex glossed upon
And with a ruler draws a line
And there upon he takes his axe
And chops with force he never lacks.
Of gloss, the text he does denude –
To part with margins was his mood.
Now, as the student home returned
The papers of the gloss flew spurned
All, here and there, throughout the mill,
He saw his book, and then felt ill.
Upset, he said, “Oh, Father, oh
As I did to your brother go,
You ruined the very noble book”.
The miller answered, “No! Now, look,
Its value is again pristine,
Of lies and such it now is clean.
Opinion! Off! The truth, the core
Remains therein, its total store,
So fortune can be made therewith,
Relieved of bark, remains the pith”.
The student to these words replied,
“My sphere is now not very wide
Without the use of tricks and craft
I might as well be though as daft
Since wiles adorn a case that’s bad –
Through them is my opponent had,
Or if the case should not be heard,
At least I win, while it’s deferred
And by these means my client aid
And through this craft am I well-paid;
Do bread and gold and favour gain
While through the truth, I am as slain”,
To this the miller said, with ire,
“We humble folk do not aspire
To craft as this. When we do try
A case here, under azure sky
Near verdant trees, in little time
We find out if there is a crime,
Dispense true justice, while you’d wait,
The villagers don’t hesitate.
For profit and perfidious use,
Of laws you’d make a gross abuse
And thus, you jurists do reveal
What little Christian thought you feel,
‘N Most those that do in cities dwell,
And thus to you I now this tell:
On you, there’s been the last cent spent –
Work with your hands for aliment
As I for yours have. And from hence
Abandon books of little sense
So jurisprudence will not sow
Such, that down to Hell you’d go.
The Christian teachings don’t forget
[The present poem by Hans Sachs was set.]

Added on June 16, 2018.

 

Spanish Love Poem / Poema de amor

Mujer bonita, luz de mis ojos,
¿Soy polilla que me quemara en la llama de la vela
O me dejaría guiar bien, por la estrella polar, o –
Si no es blasfemia – me guiaría como a los reyes magos
A concocer una maravilla en cierne?

Mujer hermosa, manantial fresco
Para el viajero sediento, al querer apagar su sed –
Y si este romero fuera yo, en lugar de tomar a tu lado,
¿No caería de la ribera, para perderme,
Seducido por una sirenita?

Y si tu, como alguien en un barco
Confiases tu vida al capitán del bajel,
Y a sus velas y a su timonel,
Que no estrellase al final,
¿Sería para ti una aventura?

Y si fueras el campo de mis labores
¿Te atendería con mis amores?
¿Conocería yo a mis plantas cultivadas,
O me serían enajenadas,
Por ser mal jardinero?

[Escrito en los años de los 90. Primera publicación: 24 de noviembre de 2015]

Poem based on a news article about some ferocious cows, A Disturbed, Disterred Herd.

Poem based on Western reactions to Russia: Wi’ Eyes Wide Open [A Puzzle].

11 декабрь: 11 December 2012 ©  Paul Karl Moeller

2 Январь: 2 January 2014

© 2012, 2014, 2018 Paul Karl Moeller

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