willow-withe and briony
Posts tagged willow.
There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them.
There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Scene VII: 180-195.
The willow speaks
with your voice.
Late into the night, lights
fly round it.
High, a water flower
moves through the darkness.
The river breathes
with its creatures.
Johannes Bobrowski, trans. Ruth and Matthew Mead.
Again dark fall returns, replete with fruit, profusion,
The yellowed sheen of lovely summer days.
A clear blue steps from rotting husks;
The flight if birds whirrs with ancient myths.
Now wine’s pressed, the mild stillness
Is filled with low-voiced answers to dark questions.
And here and there a cross upon a wasted hill; a herd
Disperses into red woods. Over the fishpond’s
Mirror surface strays a cloud;
The farmer’s quiet gesture is at rest.
So gently the blue flight of evening stirs,
A roof of dry straw, black earth.
Soon stars nestle in the tired one’s eyebrows;
A quiet modesty in cool rooms
And angels stalk noiselessly out of the blue
Eyes of lovers, who more gently suffer.
A rustling of reeds; a bony horror attacks
As black dew drips from bare willow boughs.
Georg Trakl, trans. Robert Grenier.