Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve slipped.
In the limited time I allotted myself in the past two weeks, I didn’t find a poem I wanted to learn. I considered this one, and this one, but felt that the translations must somehow be lacking. I didn’t quite feel that magical something something. Words, here and there, seemed misplaced. I googled around, and the gurus of the internet suggested I try Stephen Mitchell’s translations - which I have - and I still haven’t managed to pin one down.
Instead I have stumbled upon the work of Sara Teasdale. Although she receives mixed reviews by modern critics, Teasdale was highly praised in her day (about the same time as Robert Frost, at the turn of the last century) for her lyrical poems about life, love and death. To me, her words are simple and true, and they conjure feelings and images, of memories lost and found.
Here are two:
Only in sleep I see their faces,
Children I played with when I was a child,
Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,
Annie with ringlets warm and wild.
Only in sleep Time is forgotten -
What may have come to them, who can know?
Yet we played last night as long ago,
And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.
The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
I met their eyes and found them mild -
Do they, too dream of me, I wonder,
And for them am I too a child?
I would live in our love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes, drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats, I would follow your soul as it leads.