Zum Jahreswechsel

Zum Jahreswechsel

Bald die ersten Blütenblätter
             auf dem Kirschbaum
bald die ersten Blätter
            entspringen aus den Knospen
bald das neue Jahr
             mit all seiner Möglichkeit für uns
die alten Fehler nie zu wiederholen
             Niemals die Liebe aufgeben
deren wir niemals müde werden
             die niemals alt wird

Der Winter hat seine besondere
             frostige Stille
das knackige Geräusch
             von Vogelgezwitscher
Die Straßen manchmal
             mit Eis glasiert

Wärme ist eine
Kein Mann, keine Frau
             kann ohne Liebe leben:
bald die ersten Blütenblätter
             Vorboten der ersten Frucht

John Lyons

My own translation of yesterday’s poem

At the turn of the year

At the turn of the year

Soon the first petals
           on the cherry
soon the first leaves
from the buds
           soon the new year
with all its opportunity
           for us never to repeat
the old errors
           never to relinquish
the love of which
           we never tire
that never
           grows old

The winter has its special
           frosty silence
the crisp sound
           of birdsong
the streets at times
           glazed with ice
Warmth is a thing
           of the heart
no man no woman
           can live
without love :
           soon the first petals
           of the first fruit

John Lyons

Eight magpies and a fox on the shed roof

Eight magpies and a fox on the shed roof

Eight magpies and one fox
           the birds have assumed
military positions
           they will not be intimidated
the fox stares at them
           he will not be intimidated

Perhaps he admires their plump
           black and white bodies
perhaps they admire
           his lush russet fur

The fox is surrounded
           but perhaps he is enjoying
being the centre of attention
           he has nothing to fear
the birds have nothing to fear
           It’s just a moment
in which neither side
           wishes to back down
but it will soon pass
           it soon did

John Lyons

What’s known in the memory

What’s known in the memory

Of all that passing life
           what remains
is what’s known
           in the memory : a river
in County Waterford
           flows through my mind
the heathered bank where I stood
           with my cousin Paul
under the summer sun
           so we cast our hooks
and watched as they drifted

that youthful day the trout
           were too shy
or too cunning
           and they avoided our bait
and so we returned home

but Paul
           who has passed
along with that day
           lives in the memory
and I am always
           who I was
going to be
           just now

Rest and repair

Rest and repair

Some time after the war ended
           I had a paralytic stroke
which laid me low
           for many years

In 1876 I began to get over
           the worst of it
and from this date
           portions of several seasons
especially summers
           I spent at a secluded haunt
down in Camden county
           New Jersey

Timber Creek
           quite a little river :
it enters from the great Delaware
           twelve miles away
with primitive solitudes
           a winding stream
reclusive woody banks
           sweet-feeding springs
and all the charms
           that birds and grass
wild flowers and rabbits
           and squirrels and old oaks
and walnut trees
           can bring

Walt Whitman

Part of a poetic sequence adapted by John Lyons from Specimen Days (1882)

As I walked out one winter morn

As I walked out one winter morn

Where I was stopping
           I saw the first palpable frost
on my sunrise walk
           December 12
all over the yet-green
           spread a light blue-gray veil
giving a new show
           to the entire landscape

I had little time
           to notice it
for the sun rose
           cloudless and mellow-warm
and as I returned
           along the lane
it had turned to glittering
           patches of wet

And as I walk
           I notice the bursting pods
of wild-cotton
           the so-called Indian hemp
with flossy-silky contents
           and dark red-brown seeds
I pull a handful
           of the balsamic
           and stuff it down
into my trouser pocket
           for scent

Walt Whitman

Adapted from Specimen Days (1882) by John Lyons


My lucky stars

My lucky stars

Dark night
           of the winter sky
a half-moon
           a chill wind
foxes slinking away
           in the distance

I look up
           and count the stars
my lucky stars
           as long as
I can
           count them
they’re all

John Lyons