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Hello Everyone – today we are leaving the more familiar world of English poetry and delving into the International arena where particular temperaments, political climates and histories forged poets with a different voice, besides that of their own language.

I’m highlighting three diverse poets of time and place and ones that until recently were unknown, or barely known, to me (nor to dVerse according to the search option). For the purpose of this post, the poems I’ve selected here are of necessity on the short and succinct side but anyway it is the flavour of the writings, I want us to absorb.

  1. Desanka Maksimović (1896-1993) was a Serbian poet, professor of literature, and a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Her poetry spoke about love and patriotism; it was enthusiastic and youthful, yet serious and sensitive.

Migratory Birds
Through night and moisture
wild geese go south
crying in painful glory. 

I feel like writing
a dark story:
Them carrying away
on their two white wings
I don’t know where,
I don’t know what
of my soul’s dearest things. 

  1. Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) – the pen name of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, was Chilean and the first Spanish American author to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. Mistral’s writings express deeply felt emotions in a very direct language. “Influenced by the modernist movement, the themes are love, deceit, sorrow, nature, travel, and love for children” *

And we go on and on,
neither sleeping nor awake,
towards the meeting, unaware
that we are already there. 

That the silence is perfect,
and that the flesh is gone.
The call still is not heard
nor does the Caller reveal his face.

 But perhaps this might be
oh, my love, the gift
of the eternal Face without gestures
and of the kingdom without form! 

  1. Octavio Paz (1914-1998) – Another Spanish speaker and more recent Nobel prize winner. Born in Mexico, he was a political activist, ambassador and essayist so that much of his poetry reads like prose poems, “written within the perpetual motion and transparencies of the eternal present tense” **

Two Bodies
Two bodies face to face
are at times two waves
and night is an ocean.

 Two bodies face to face
are at times two stones
and night a desert.

Two bodies face to face
are at times two roots
laced into night. 

Two bodies face to face
are at times two knives
and night strikes sparks.

Two bodies face to face
are two stars falling
in an empty sky.

The Poetics Challenge here is to select ONE of the poems and write your own interpretation – what the poem conjures for you, what personal feelings it touches on. You may want to use the title or make use of some of the words or just try to keep the flavour of the poem.  After all, the originals were not in English – but that is the point – we can get lost in the translation!
[But don’t forget to make reference to the chosen poem when you publish your own so that I don’t get lost!]

Further Reading:
Each name links to a bio page with further poems
Also see the Nobel Prize website for further info on Gabriela Mistral* & Octavio Paz **

Once you have published your poem, add it to the Linky widget and leave a comment below. Visiting, reading and sharing your thoughts with other contributors is after all, half the fun of our dVerse gatherings