Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley

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Dead Leaves

Dead Leaves consists of six stanzas each of twelve lines and is not rhymed. It is voiced by a man who has achieved strength and endeavour during his lifetime but who is now reduced by age to a mere tool of wind and nature and feels that he will shortly depart this life.

Sad though he may be at his fate, he, nonetheless, philosophises at the new freedom it will bring him in a new found capability of movement through the air; but he is aware of the gulf that will arise between the realm he now anticipates for himself and his former state. He therefore expresses caution at desiring the change too soon but is only too conscious of the limitations imposed upon the power of man to determine his fate.

The vitality of life will continue, however, in the combined strength of nature rolling ever onward in which some remnant of his existence may still be perceived in the blowing leaves transformed into Olympian gods. In particular, he implores his wife to watch him passing with the dancing leaves blown across the fields and thereby to feel that he is always present.

Dream Moon

Dream Moon consists of eleven stanzas mostly of two quatrains each which are rhymed ACBD.

A lover thinks back to the time of his great love some distance in the past but which has ended for some unexplained reason. He calls upon the moon to shine upon his sleeping figure and to restore his happiness by conjuring dreams of former days.

Faded Away

A man (or woman) pines for his, now, deceased lover who has faded into an unknown world beyond his reach. The storm tossed trees portray his turmoil at her loss but he yearns for calm and the return of their days together regretting that the years have passed so quickly. She remains firmly in his memory, however, as he muses on the nature of the afterlife.

Format is seven stanzas each of two quatrains each rhymed AC, BD.

Floating on The Wind

A man (or woman) welcomes his recurrent dream that brings to view his, now, deceased lover and brings her almost physically into his embrace. He regrets that past pleasures cannot displace present sadness but lives for her rustling with the breeze in the leaves and sight of her in his sleep. His visions are interrupted by the dawn, however, and he must wait for the next night to bring her to him, once more.

Format is seven stanzas each of two quatrains rhymed irregularly throughout.


Two lovers form a passionate relationship which becomes overwhelmed as if by a fog swirling over former thoughts of eternal loyalty that erases the vows previously sworn. They feel the contrast of wintery cold entering their souls as a consequence of their deceit and loss of companionship.

But far away in the hills of their minds is a plant that beckons them to resume their relationship by means of clearing their minds of the fog and seeking clarity in a new beginning. In admitting the sun into their lives, they will transform their fortunes and drive out the doubts and hostility in order, once more, to find love as the binding force in their lives.

Format is five stanzas of eleven to thirteen heavily but irregularly rhymed lines.


How Brief the Moon

The night gives way to glaring day as moon descends to recuperate in the care of a shielding priestess. The lover regrets the loss of moonlight as the moon causes the tide to wash out the hours as if his beloved had been carried away upon its departure. As day dims the delights of night, he regrets her loss to the fates but retains the memories stored at the place where he awaits the moon's return imagining its ascent when, even though he may have died in her absence, his love would not have perished and he would be revived by the moon bathing his grave and be able, once more, to feel their love in its beams.

Format is ten stanzas each of nine lines and is heavily rhymed throughout.


A tribute to memories which stay in the mind when all else has dissolved into the mists of time. The incidents acquired in life can thereby be retained even when the events have slipped into history as even the present passes away to be replaced by the new. They will, however, suddenly be recalled as an unexpected event occurs to remind one of the beauties that one has experienced.

Format is five stanzas each of ten lines rhymed HJ.


An ode to the memory of a lost lover.

Format is four stanzas each of twelve lines and all fulsomely rhymed.

No Return

No Commentary

The Day of Reckoning

A woman has voluntarily but inexplicably disappeared without trace or warning to the despair of her grieving lover. He expresses his fury and despair to her upon her suddden reappearance but concludes that he could not bear a repetition and casts her out.

Format is five stanzas each of nine lines none of which are rhymed.

The Flower

The Flower consists of three stanzas each of seven lines where a statement of four lines is answered by a response of three lines. It is written in free verse without rhyme or regular meter, although iambs are prevalent, but I hope that the story of the lovers parting is sufficiently poetic to compensate. There are a few internal rhymes and assonances, however, eg "play, May", "new, through", "afresh, perish", "blossoms, kisses".

I envisage the story to be related by a man; but a woman could easily be the protagonist. He is not a mere youth as in many poems of lost love, however, but somewhat older with a certain maturity of judgement and insight into human feelings that enable him to view his loss with detachment from the perspective of wisdom gained by experience rather than from the immaturity and self-indulgence of the despair of youth.

He compares a deep felt loss, probably of a dearly loved woman who has left him for some unexplained and probably unjust reason. He sees in a newly plucked flower a means to contrast his everlasting love with the ephemeral passage of emotions she has demonstrated and now has so cruelly withdrawn from him.

The poem begins with the analogy of love represented by the flower overcoming all obstacles and confident that it will be perpetually renewed each spring in contrast to the vulnerability of a love that will not regenerate once it has encountered a rebuff. The poem then suddenly plunges into the foreboding of impending loss which is confirmed, in emulation of her sudden departure, by the jilted lover plucking the flower which will now wither rather than be renewed.

The flower will be reborn to grace a later spring but with no memory of past despair whereas the jilted lover cannot believe that another love will be as heartfelt as that which he has felt for his recently lost beloved and which, in contrast, will die of grief and never reawaken despite his constancy.

The poem calls in aid the passage of the year from spring through summer that, in the winds and buds of May, and with their waving flowers, expresses the joys of love. This is contrasted with the despair evoked by the cruelty he has suffered when his love was spurned. What had evidently been a deep and reciprocated love has suddenly dissolved after some disagreement has arisen between them and they have parted in bleakened circumstances with the consequence that their separation has transformed a flower strewn life of former joy into a barren moor. They have taken their separate paths and she has gone to some unknown place for some unknown reason whilst he is left gazing at an empty arena.

I use the double meaning of the verb "to press" in order to echo his dilemma. The perfection of his love could have been preserved by pressing the flower in a book; but the flower is no longer the emblem of their undivided love kept forever in treasured memory but petals blowing in the wind in representation of their fractured love. They are, nonetheless, his ambassadors of love and his last remnant of hope that they may find her and restore her love for him.

The wind has a personality that is favourably disposed towards the couple having once fanned their love and is now willing to be pressed into service in order to aid them in this trial by blowing the remnants of the flower in pursuit of the woman in a vain attempt to salvage their relationship. By setting free the petals in the hope that they may find and restore his previous happiness, the lover sacrifices the emblem of his love in this last act of desperation thereby not only forgoing the pleasure that it may have brought some consolation to him in future years but also demonstrating his commitment to their relationship despite her having left him.

He is confident that the same wind that blew in spring can seek her out; but he knows deep within his soul that she has severed their relationship and that he will not be able to rekindle her former feelings. She has broken free having evidently been captivated in her love for him and will not now return; and neither will the wind. His feelings are that much more poignant for her having renounced him voluntarily whilst his love remains as deep and permanent as ever.

He has probably exhausted any argument he may have had that would achieve a reconciliation. All he can do now is gaze after the petals borne on the wind and stoically accept that, whilst spring will revive the flower, his love will never be requited. Those bleak feelings felt upon her departure will remain. Only heather upon the moorland that, as the fourth character in the drama, has maintained a sombre silence throughout, will know that his feelings are as strongly felt as those posed by the finality of death.

The Land I Knew

A man feels the onset of death when winter yields to a permanent spring and he retains the sight of the beauty he knew. His river has run through the course of his life as far as the sea. Now, he ascends the path to the skies aided by the moon dispelling his fears. With a new found freedom, he will proceed to repeat his earthly success that will act as guidance to others in their lives. As he nears the end of his final journey, he rejoices at the everlasting day before him and visualises an existence after death not distant from his beloved.

Format is nine stanzas, mostly of twelve lines each, fulsomely rhymed throughout.

The Last Smile

A bereaved lover compares his loss to the change of season into Autumn and Winter. All of nature has lost the charm of Spring and Summer: leaves dropping; the year closing; flowers falling to the earth. Time passes and life declines but, even in bereavement, he can still recall the words and sounds of a life now passed. Love lives on beyond the grave as he seeks remembrance in the stars shining through the, now, leafless branches.

Format is ten stanzas each consisting of two quatrains all of which are rhymed AC, BD.

Too Proud to Return

Too Proud to Return consists of seven stanzas each of six lines and is not rhymed.

Two lovers have a bitter disagreement leading to separation but, unable to discard their pride, neither will admit to any fault. It is as if they were separated by a wide river mouth with each on opposite headlands. The protagonist has not stopped loving but suppresses any admission of wrongdoing despite the pangs of separation.

He is aware that their love still burns as brightly as before but he is resolute in stubbornly refusing to admit his faults. Their separation will pertain even unto the grave and neither party will be prepared to re-examine their flaws. They will, instead, drag out their days regardless how crippled their minds become.