Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley






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Elegiac


Beyond The Sky

Beyond The Sky consists of five stanzas varying from ten to twelve lines each and is not rhymed.

The protagonist marvels at the night time sky and, taking his inspiration from what he perceives as the wisdom of the moon, conceives of a place of rest far beyond what can be seen from earth. He muses on the mystery of the universe and the destination of us all concluding that it provides a place of rest undisturbed by all he has known before.






Churchyard

Churchyard takes inspiration from Gray's Elegy and similarly reflects on the departed souls who are now long lost to time. It consists of nine stanzas each of eleven lines (except for the first, which is of eight lines) and has few rhymes.

An observer in the graveyard reflects upon the lives and struggles of the departed who, contrary to Gray, are not revered merely for acceptance of their humble lot. I imply that their capabilities and achievements live on beyond the grave in providing inspiration to the present world and thereby incite us to overcome the challenges of modern times.






Dancing Through the Night

Dancing Through the Night consists of three stanzas of ten lines each and is not rhymed.

A lover is faced with the recent death of his wife and regrets that she will not wake again. He must live on until he also passes away. They had lived as if life would never end but they would never live those times again. He bids her to sleep forever a peaceful sleep taking refuge in the delusion that the breeze will bring her back although he knows that their past will be reflected, for her, in heavenly music and, for him, in the whispering wind.






Desolation

Desolation consists of ten stanzas of five lines each rhymed AE.

A man has lost his wife of many years to death and is cast into the depths of regret. Time has moved on from their idyllic beginnings leaving him bereft with only the shades of mourning as his companions and the thought that, beyond the thralls of time, they will be joined forever among the stars.






Farewell

The protagonist compares the moment of loss of his (or her) spouse to caravans crossing unobserved in the desert. He senses an indefinite period that must elapse like night before they can meet again and wonders what form she will meanwhile have assumed. He pleads that she may stay close to him throughout the dark days to come and imagines her to be always near him.

Format is 28 lines over three stanzas of unequal length irregularly rhymed.






Farewell to Bright Eyes

Farewell to Bright Eyes consists of nine stanzas each of eight lines rhymed DH.

Parents of a departed child are consoled in their loss by the prospect of meeting him or her in their dreams. They see him often when they implore him to appear in the silence of the night from his place among the stars to appear in the flowers and blossoms of their dream.

But, he is summoned by bells pealing faintly from far off steeples that announce the dawn and they wake to find him gone. They wish for his safe return and keep him locked in their memories confident of his reappearing in subsequent dreams.






Images

A man imagines his deceased lover in several images that, whilst providing an ephemeral comfort, retain her beyond his grasp. Sadly, he must finally accept her absence.

Format is seven stanzas each of seven lines and is not rhymed.






Last Voyage

Last Voyage consists of seven stanzas each of twelve lines and is not rhymed.

It addresses the anguish of a relative who, too late, discovers that a troubled person has removed himself from the world. His remorse is expressed in loving tones and understanding with the promise that they will someday be re-united.

The poem uses maritime analogies in order to signify the inner turmoil of the departed and the later reunification in harbour. The moment of anguish is expressed by reference to the permanence of winter weather and the black birds wheeling about the churchyard. But it is followed by the wish that the departed may finally rejoice in the warmer climes beyond the seas where that brief life will find fulfilment in the love that accompanies him.






Passing On

A man reviews his life with regrets for youth long since passed whereupon he embarks upon his adult life. He, first, debates which path to follow, but, conscious that some decision must be made, strides forth on his way. The adverse weather he encounters is a metaphor for the travails of life that he encounters; and his leaving the winding road is a metaphor for domesticity within which he is able to observe passers-by whom he can compare with his own search for success.

He realizes that life flashes quickly by and, in his calm observance of others who must also travel onwards, he muses on what he will encounter upon reaching the final destination. But he is only too aware of the interval remaining and is reluctant to leave the world in which he has found contentment. He stoically casts his mind on past glories and prepares to enter the shadows proudly aware that he will be remembered for his achievements.

Format twelve stanzas of from eight to twelve lines each which are irregularly rhymed.






Remember

A reminder to mourners in a remembrance march, as they think upon their fallen comrades, that losses have occurred on all sides and should be remembered together. They should not only mourn the dead but be proud of the new age in which they now live thanks to past sacrifices made on their behalf. Others, wherever they may be, who may be closely affected by the losses, also deserve a part of sympathy in their sorrows.

Format is three stanzas of twelve, four and ten lines few of which are rhymed.






Remnant of Spring

No Commentary






Return to the Old Abode

Return to the Old Abode consists of three stanzas each of thirteen lines which are not rhymed.

The poem relates the return of a man through the memories of his wife's decease back to his former home and his reminiscence of the happy times they spent there. He finds the place now bereft of the charm he had recollected of the well-tended gardens where they spent their happy years. They, like his memories, have also become overgrown and wild.

But he then hears a thrush singing amid the blossom. His memories are transformed as he recalls their former life and the bird seems to revive his soul with the thought that he is no longer alone.






The Crossing

A story of a man reluctantly ferried by Charon across the river Styx who protests to the gods that his interment will serve no purpose and pleads to be granted an extension to his life. The gods are implacable, however, repeatedly dismissing his promises of reform. He, finally, relents in despair but with the wish that others will not also suffer his fate. The gods grant him an interment wherein he may atone for his misdeeds by dreaming goodwill throughout the afterlife.

Format is sixteen quatrains mostly rhymed AD, BC but with the occasional AC, BD.






The Distant Hills

The Distant Hills consists of six stanzas alternating between nine and ten lines each.

It addresses the sadness of bereavement. I had in mind that of a mother addressing her child but the departed could easily be a lover or husband.

The mother refuses to abandon the memory of her child whom she believes will be ever present. She recognizes that their separation will be long and that deep sadness will intervene; but she will feast upon the image of the child as if he or she is standing on a distant hill and thus always visible. She will be able to gain some consolation from the vividness of her memories which will restore the child to her as if he or she had always been present.






The Lost Land

A man has lost his lover for some unexplained reason and reflects upon the barrenness of the life he now faces. There are explanations for disasters but he finds none for his predicament in the loss of the happiness they knew. His future, now, is that of the precipice or of a new episode in his life. The former offers certainty, the latter merely a possibility of renewal. He debates the merits of each and marvels at his ability to assess the arguments concluding that some final goal, when reached, may bring reward.

Format is eight stanzas, mostly of ten lines, each heavily, but irregularly, rhymed.






Too Far,Too Soon

The protagonist has been separated from his wife by the overwhelming power of a loving God who has called her with a strength that could not be denied. He reminisces on their deeply felt love that would have lasted throughout their lives.

He has given his heart away but, nonetheless, keeps it with him within his soul and wonders whether she hears the angels sing and whether she resides among the flowers. He implores her to visit him in his dreams until, at some distant date, he may join her in her celestial abode.

Format is eight stanzas each of ten lines except the first of eleven lines mostly rhymed HJ.






Whispers in the Dark

Whispers in the Dark consists of six stanzas each of eight lines and is rhymed throughout mainly AC, BD, FH, CG but with variations.

Many poems have been written by lovers who have survived the death of a partner and who address him or her in the grave. This poem expresses the contact with the survivor from beyond, or rather, from within the grave.

A deep love has been severed by some catastrophe but the deceased still wishes to convey a love that has never died from a place evoked by suitably sombre imagery. He recalls their previous happy life as the sound of bells and laughter linger in his ear. He implores them to ring out again and for his lover to sing her love as she sang before.

Since a pair is the union of complementary items, he claims that her whispers from above will join his thoughts and thereby bridge the gulf between life and death.