Video

A Christmas Surprise

From India Today

Sufi musicians play Christmas carols, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and We Wish You a Merry Christmas:

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Marina Tsvetaeva, “Bound for Hell”

 

 

Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we’re bound; we’ll drink the pitch of hell—
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle—in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we’re now borne away.

Every morning, every day, we’d rise
And have the finest Chinese silks to wear;
And we’d strike up the songs of paradise
Around the campfire of a robbers’ lair,

We, careless seamstresses (our seams all ran,
Whether we sewed or not)—yet we have been
Such dancers, we have played the pipes of Pan:
The world was ours, each one of us a queen.

First, scarcely draped in tatters, and disheveled,
Then plaited with a starry diadem;
We’ve been in jails, at banquets we have reveled:
But the rewards of heaven, we’re lost to them,

Lost in nights of starlight, in the garden
Where apple trees from paradise are found.
No, be assured, my gentle girls, my ardent
And lovely sisters, hell is where we’re bound.

Translated from the Russian by Stephen Edgar 

 

“Poet as Housewife,” Elisabeth Eybers

Always a broom leaned against a wall,
meals never on time, if they come at all.

Days without dates through which she moves
empty and stubborn, slightly confused.

Ironing hung dejectedly over a chair,
gestures that come from who-knows-where.

Old letters unanswered, piled together,
papers and pills stuffed deep in a drawer.

Thankful to be part of your heart’s great whole
yet devoted to the limits of her own small skull.

O orderly biped, take heed,
leave her alone—let her read.

 — “Poet as Housewife,” Elisabeth Eybers, translated from the Afrikaans by Jacquelyn Pope