Very short poems you like

Benny B

Well-known member
Kenner talks about this one in the 'Imagism' chapter of The Pound Era. It's too long a section to type out, but he talks about the importance of the title in contrasting the vegetal with the world of machines and links the Metro and use of the word "apparitions" with Ancient Greek depictions of the underworld.

Amazing how much is compressed into two lines and a title.



is not like other people
Beckett wrote some interesting short ones in French which are tricky to translate. He called them mirlitonnades

for example

en face
le pire
jusqu'a ce
qu'il fasse rire


the worst
it makes [one] laugh

although you might substitute "facing" for "opposite" with a change of sense, or perhaps "across from" which is not very elegant.
also beckett splits the french construction that means until over two lines which is impossible to capture in english
"it makes laugh"is not english though it is a word-for-word translation of the french so i don't know how you'd deal with that
and, as always, the music is completely destroyed in translation
but the french is compact and effective


is not like other people
here's another good one

fous qui disiez
jamais plus

again roughly

you madmen who said
never again
say it again

impossible to translate the play on fous (madmen) / vous (you) although the verb ending on disiez makes it clear he means you, ie it is an address to certain madmen, not just any old madmen


is not like other people
H'm what's this looks like Beckett also did translations of Eluard just like I was doing elsewhere on this forum not long ago, looks like I am a Beckett-league genius, sweet


is not like other people
Not particularly short but as this is where I'm talking about translation here's my version of Rimbaud's Bottom. NB the French title is also "Bottom", making it clear this is a reference to the Shakespeare character; there are other Rimbaud poems about the bottoms we sit on, though.


Reality being too full of difficulties for my great character; - I found myself nevertheless at my lady's house, in the form of a big grey-blue bird shaking itself dry towards the ornaments of the ceiling and dragging a wing through the shadows of the evening.
I was, at the foot of the rug bearing its beloved jewels and physical masterpieces, a fat bear with violet gums and fur gone grey with sadness, eyes of crystal and the silver of sideboards.
All was shadow and burning aquariums. In the morning - dawn of a warlike June - I ran to the fields, an ass, trumpeting and brandishing my grief, until the Sabine women of the suburbs came to throw themselves at my chest.

Benny B

Well-known member

The Warning

For love—I would
split open your head and put
a candle in
behind the eyes.

Love is dead in us
if we forget
the virtues of an amulet
and quick surprise.

Robert Creeley

Benny B

Well-known member

Spill the dish his lip said,
at the side, this one, stop
and run and stop then. Was
the day wet when he set
to it, for his cheek the step
on top. Wish to wish inside,
the slip led to this. Within
and done, a life of silt.