Sunday, 31 July 2011

raymond queneau

If you imagine

If you imagine
if you imagine
little sweetie little sweetie
if you imagine
this will this will this
will last forever
this season of
this season of
season of love
you’re fooling yourself
little sweetie little sweetie
you’re fooling yourself

If you think little one
if you think ah ah
that the rosy complexion
that waspy waist
those lovely muscles
the enamel nails
nymph thigh
and your light foot
if you think little one
that will that will that
will last forever
you’re fooling yourself
little sweetie little sweetie
you’re fooling yourself

The lovely days disappear
the lovely holidays
suns and planets
go round in a circle
but you my little one
you go straight
toward you know not what
very slowly draw near
the sudden wrinkle
the weighty fat
the triple chin
the flabby muscle
come gather gather
the roses the roses
roses of life
and may their petals
be a calm sea
of happiness
come gather gather
if you don’t do it
you’re fooling yourself
little sweetie little sweetie
you’re fooling yourself

trans by michael benedikt

Thursday, 28 July 2011

pedro salinas

Wake up. Day calls you

Wake up. Day calls you
to your life: your duty.
And to live, nothing more.
Root it out of the glum
night and the darkness
that covered your body
for which light waited
on tiptoe in the dawn.
Stand up, affirm the straight
Simple will to be
A pure slender virgin.
Test your body’s metal.
Cold, heat? Your blood
Will tell against the snow,
Or behind the window.
The colour
In your cheeks will tell.
And look at people. Rest
Doing no more than adding
Your perfection to another
Day. Your task
Is to carry your life high,
And play with it, hurl it
Like a voice to the clouds
So it may retrieve the light
Already gone from us.
That is your fate: to live.
Do nothing.
Your work is you, nothing more.

trans by willis barnstone

Monday, 25 July 2011

le tour etc

so, that'll be the tour over for another year. and evans won so i'm happy. but it was so much more than that. thor hushovd may not have gone for green but what a week he had in yellow and that second victory was pure class. i'd love to see him getting a couple of classics victories off the back of that.

and then voeckler. somewhat of the flavour was taken off that because of the inevitable eyebrow raising at the performance but even so the last ditch defense on galibier and the alpe was pure class. deep in the suitcase of courage indeed. and pierre rolland, now there's someone to look out for in the future.

and i think looking forward to the future was kind of what this tour was all about. not only new names in the frame (and that's without the likes of john degenkolb) but seemingly a different approach. andy schleck attacks from 60k, contador from 90!!! not in the epo days they wouldn't! and there was no inhumanly quick climbing of the alpe either. i feel a bit sorry for contador as whatever the truth around the clenbuterol affair he'll be tainted by it (and the schlecks are far from clouds hanging over their particular horizon) but that last vain attack was something else.

the only marginal disappointment was the king of the mountains competition which. for me, has been devalued since the richard virenque days and, like they did for the sprint competition this year, must surely be due for an overall. not that that's to take anything away from samuel sanchez but it'd be nice to see less points on the minor hills forcing pure climbers to compete in their natural environment.

cavendish's victory had something of the inevitable about it even if he had to work proper hard for it. unlike the schlecks cavendish showed proper respect for his team and, in the surprising shape of andrei greipel, those around him. even tears on the podium!

and the schlecks. aside form andy's breakaway they were as unimaginative as i predicted. what's most frustrating is that they're better than that, andy at least as franck sems to have gone a bit off the boil. as a solo effort i severely doubt if he'd have made it to the podium. there was too much looking over the shoulder, too much expecting others to work and, even allowing for the stresses and strains, they did themselves no favours with the media. andy schleck's breakaway should be the stuff of legend. instead i think it'll be contador the following day and evans' fightback that people will remember.

that, and of course johnny hoogerland's torn up backside! not forgetting juan antonio flecha who, arguably, lost the most over that incident.

so, drama all round, thoroughly entertaining and lovely france as usual. i'm totally looking forward to the next one.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Time topples Statyllios like a doddery oak

Time topples Statyllios like a doddery oak

Death hauls the old queen off, but before he goes,
He solemnly dedicates to the God of Cock:

His summer frocks dyed Dayglo puce
One shoulder-length, blonde, greasy, lacquered wig
Two glittering, sequined, high-heeled shoes
An overnight grip stuffed full of drag
And flutes smelling of cachous and booze.

trans by tony harrison

Saturday, 23 July 2011


Either get out the house or conform to my tastes, woman

Either get out the house or conform to my tastes, woman.
I’m no strait-laced old Roman.
I like prolonging the nights agreeably with wine: you, after one glass of water,
Rise and retire with an air of hauteur.
You prefer darkness: I enjoy lovemaking
With a witness – a lamp shining or the dawn breaking.
You wear bed-jackets, tunics, thick woollen stuff,
Whereas I think no woman on her back can ever be naked enough.
I love girls who kiss like doves and hang around my neck:
You give me the sort of peck
Due to your grandmother as a morning salute.
In bed, you’re motionless, mute –
Not a wriggle
Not a giggle –
As solemn as a priestess at a shrine
Proffering incense and pure wine.
Yet every time Andromache went for a ride
In Hector’s room, the household slaves used to masturbate outside;
Even modest Penelope, when Ulysses snored,
Kept her hand on the sceptre of her lord.
You refuse to be buggered; but it’s a known fact
That Gracchus’, Pompey’s and Brutus’ wives were willing partners in the act,
And that before Ganymede mixed Jupiter his tasty bowl
Juno filled the dear boy’s role.
If you want to be uptight – all right
By all means play Lucretia by day. But I need a Laïs at night.

trans by james michie

Friday, 22 July 2011

petronius arbiter

Doing a filthy pleasure is, and short

Doing a filthy pleasure is, and short;
And done, we straight repent us of the sport:
Let us not rush blindly on unto it,
Like lustful beasts, that only know to do it:
For lust will languish, and that heat decay,
But thus, thus, keeping endless Holy-day,
Let us together closely lie, and kiss,
There is no labour, nor no shame in this;
This hath pleased, doth please, and long will please; never
Can this decay, but is beginning ever.

trans by ben jonson

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

vitězslau nezval

The Clock in the old Jewish Ghetto

While time is running away on Přikopy Street
Like a racing cyclist who thinks he can overtake death’s machine
You are like the clock in the ghetto whose hands go backwards
If death surprised me I would die a six year old boy

translated by ewald osers

Sunday, 17 July 2011

primo levi


You who live secure
In your warm houses,
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.

trans by ruth Feldman and brian swann

Thursday, 14 July 2011

lady ki no washika


It’s not because I’m now too old
More wizened than you guess…

If I say no, it’s only
Because I fear that yes
Would bring me nothing, in the end,
But a fiercer loneliness.

trans by graeme wilson

Monday, 11 July 2011


Tibullus, pull yourself together!

Tibullus, pull yourself together!
You musn’t make such heavy weather
When women throw you over.
All day you melt in songs of woe,
Merely because a younger beau
Is now Neara’s lover.

The slender-brow’d Lycoris burns
For Cyrus: presto, Cyrus turns
To court the peevish Julia;
But Julia will no more abate
Her virgin pride, than does will mate
With wolves from wild Apulia.

Thus Venus plays her grimmest joke;
She loves to match beneath her yoke
Those who have least in common,
And both in looks and characters
Concocts the most unlikely pairs –
No help for man or woman!

Take my own case: I might have wooed
A girl as fair as she was good,
And here you see me slaving,
In utter bliss, for Myrtale,
A slur, more tetchy than the sea
Round southern headlands raving.

trans by edward marsh

Thursday, 7 July 2011

john crowe ransom

Blue Girls

Twirling your blue skirts, travelling the sward
Under the towers of your seminary,
Go listen to your teachers old and contrary
Without believing a word.

Tie the white fillets then about your hair
And think no more of what will come to pass
Than bluebirds that go walking on the grass
And chattering on the air.

Practise your beauty, blue girls, before it fail;
And I will cry with my loud lips and publish
Beauty which all our power shall never establish,
It is so frail.

For I could tell you a story which is true;
I know a woman with a terrible tongue,
Blear eyes fallen from blue,
All her perfections tarnished – yet it is not long
Since she was lovelier than any of you.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

a bit more bike chat

and a wee something for dominic

after t's chat with graham obree my mind has swung to a trailer for road touring. it seems a bit more convenient in some ways. but how much can you carry. well not as much as this guy who's not only got two trailers but one of them is full of ham radio gear! (call sign KE1THR, dominic). chapeau, i say!

and so le tour. this year, most likely the first in at least the last ten years but more likely the last twenty, i kissed the start reasoning, correctly i think, that time away (potentially) on the bike is better than being in front of the tv. that said, some quality racing missed.

am i going to make a prediction? on paper at least contador would seem to be the man but even he will have to make a bit of an effort. given his efforts on the mur de bretagne i'm not convinced as yet. i am delighted that thor hushovd is in yellow but disappointed he won't be going for green, at least officially - i still think he'll be there or thereabouts in paris.

i'd like to see philipe gilbert or cadel evans getting it. gilbert because he was peerless in the classics and evans just because he's superhard and has absolutely put paid to all those naysayers of yesteryear with massive performances in the giro and also in the tirreno-adriatico this year.

the schlecks i think are too unimaginative to do much unless all the signs point their way. wiggins,m unless he's very lucky, will get dropped in the mountains and, i think, will be fortunate to get a top ten far less a podium. geraint thomas on the other hand i think will get the white jersey.

the polkadot? i rather fancy robert gesink for this tho i feel the competition has been somewhat devalued in recent years as it's possible to mop up the points on the minor climbs and win with just one of the majors. seeing as they've restructured for less bunch sprints this year (i  do favour the cav/htc conspitacy theory) the aso might want to do the same for the mountains classification.

that said i think  it's going to be a great tour. it's worth a look at the guide for the key stages and book your spot in front of eurosport for some proper drama!


intending firmly to cycle i took my broken body plus t and geo to islay this weekend. we did a checklist before we went. everything seemed fine. except we'd forgotten loads including geo's birthday present. no matter.
the scottish 'summer' had taken pause and the sun was shining(ish) for a glorious crossing.

there were even cetacean sightings!

in the end we did very little. not least because this was what greeted us in the morning.

as i put it to geo, there's the beach, there's the sea - why would we want to go anywhere else. much splashing about, kayakry and general lying about in the sun ensued. so much so that while my bikey tan lines were barely blushed the rest of my pearly white northern european flesh got a proper cooking. still, nothing like an evening stroll in the sunset to ease the pain...

in the end no cycling was done, not least because of hayfever/cold but also because i just couldn't risk aggravating last week's injury. back yesterday for some proper manipulation but a world of stretching awaits before pushing it on the bike again and, unfortunately that puts 10@kirroughtree completely out of the picture for this weekend. i'm not even sure if i'll be fit for the triathlon next month.

still, islay was lovely and well worth going back for a proper look round. on our return we found the garden awash with strawberries so made a bunch of jam as well as strawberry and blackcurrant vodka as a wee perk me up on the long winter nights.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

d. h. lawrence


Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evening s at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

Friday, 1 July 2011

t. s. eliot

La Figlia Che Piange

O quam te memorem virgo

Stand on the highest pavement of the stair –
Lean on a garden urn –
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair –
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise –
Fling them to the ground and turn
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left
As the soul leave s the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft,
Some way we both should understand,
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.

She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.

starry rhymes

finally, just in time to arrive before i'm off on yet another jaunt (probably sedentary but the bike's coming just in case!) the latest from read this drops through my letter box.

and, despite only the briefest of flick throughs, it looks great. the idea is that the poets would respond to, in some form or another, one of allen ginsberg's poems. and that was that. so what i've got is a grab bag of people, some of whom i know and some of whom i don't, each responding to their own particular task in their own particular way.

i have to admit i'm a sucker for this sort of thing. i love to see how different people solve their own individual problems yet in doing so create something that's both entirely different and yet united by a common theme. i don't want to get all misty eyed but the resultant diversity always has a certain something in me confirmed in its faith in human nature.

i can't give any specifics about the poems included save that the best line must surely be from kevin cadwallandr - ' i write this because claire askew told me to and i'm scared of her'

do yourself a favour and don't listen any more to me, just get yourself out and buy a copy here. i am certain you won't be disappointed