Our Rooster’s Wattle

roosterOur Rooster’s Wattle

We bring our rooster in
on cold winter nights,
after watching his proud red wattle
burn and shrivel from frostbite.

When I carry him back outside
to his women in waiting
this otherwise boisterous bird
rests in my arms without complaining.

Though now his dapper is a bit bland
he still struts with a glorious stand
among his gals in the morning sun
calling them for food and a little fun.

Today’s inspiring poem:Yeah-Yeah the Big Bang by Maria Barnas
Some Roster Info: Smithsonian article

I never knew that Shakespeare’s “The Witches’ Spell” was the source of such witchy expressions. Listen to this reading by Tom O-Bedlam posted on 3 Quarks Daily.

In the comments, a reader says, “LIKE! Except the part about the blasphemer Jew. Thanks.”

To which (pun!) I replied:

Blaspheming Jews should we protect?
Yet Turk and Tart quickly forget?
Does strangled child not from you get,
Equal weight of moral debt?

And only humans should deserve not
to end up in the boiling pot?
What of snake, newt, frog and dog?
Of adder, lizard, owlet and hog?

Tis amazing how reading/hearing poetry turns one’s mind poetic, eh?  Even if only badly poetic!  :-)

Mad am I?

Mad am I?
I was merely living my life
waiting for spring.

The “poem” above is a quote from Tsugumo Hanshiro at the end of Miike’s film “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” (a remake of Kobayashi’s 1962 film). Writers of movies, novels and short stories write lines that even self-proclaimed poets could consider a poem in their own right.  And this quote was amazing — coming at the end of the film, it captured more than you can imagine.


Colors_angle_curveFinding an image from the film that captured my deep impressions was impossible — but I have included this one to give you and idea.

This was a very melancholic film and affected me for hours. Suicide, in Japan, is a very different concept from what I grew up with in the West. When I first went to Japan I remember being appalled by the idea of ‘noble suicide’. Several years later, fluent both in both the language and culture, while watching a classic film on Kami-Kaze pilots, I had a tear in my eye. My Japanese friend noticed and said to me, “You have been here too long.”

Whether with words, drawings or films, capturing a feeling is difficult but a joy to attempt. The picture to the right is a blend of two belated attempts to capture my feelings for my last poem, “Chuckling at Curves“.  The top version is hand-drawn, the bottom version was done with computer graphics.

Much like trying to capture my feelings about the samurai film, neither drawing here satisfactorily captures my feelings on curves and straight lines.  We can only try!

Chuckling at Angles

Colors_angle_curveChuckling at Angles

A river, soft and sinuous,
chuckles at my sharp-cornered desk.

The window watches waving fields
spread pollen on hard-lined concrete.

And bird songs roll over round trees
shadowing our hard-angled house.

– by Sabio Lantz,
April 2013

Process:  Over the last weeks I have been possessed by the contrast of my angular world and the curved world of nature.  This is an attempt to paint my possession using a Korean poetic form called “Sijo” which Samuel, at d’Verse Poets has challenged us to write.

I am not yet clear on exactly what qualifies a Sijo, but the constraints I have tried to follow are:

  1. 3 sentences: each which may be broken into two lines.
  2. Each line is divide rather naturally into 3-5 syllable patterns.
  3. “What counts is the musical quality”: I worked at that.
  4. The theme is philosophic and expressive.


  •  The day I wrote this poem, I jotted down some amateur sketches to try and capture some of my feelings.  The above one is by hand, the lower one by computer.  It took me a while to finish them, but here they are, a few days late.  The poem capture my feelings far better, but even the poem is inadequate.
  • For more on Sijo, see here, wiki, sejong society .

Joseph_EichendorffClaudia (in Germany), for d’Verse Poets, shared the last verse from German poem by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788-1857) a German Romanticist. The poem is called “Mondnacht“.

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) set this poem to music in 1840 putting in the center of his song cycle.  Thomas Mann called this poem the “pearl of pearls”.  Here is YouTube reading of the poem and here is YouTube of Barbara Streisand singing to Schumann’s piece.

Here is the German original:


Es war, als hätt’ der Himmel
Die Erde still geküsst,
Dass sie im Blütenschimmer
Von ihm nun träumen müsst’.

Die Luft ging durch die Felder,
Die Ähren wogten sacht,
Es rauschten leis’ die Wälder,
So sternklar war die Nacht.

Und meine Seele spannte
Weit ihre Flügel aus,
Flog durch die stillen Lande,
Als flöge sie nach Haus.

Claudia offered a translation of that last verse by Walter Aue. As a former translator (Japanese->English), and a dabbler in German, I thought it would be fun to experiment with the poem to see if I could come up with a translation I enjoyed more than Aue’s.

Here is the original again with the metre and syllable count:

Und meine Seele spannte
Weit ihre Flügel aus,
Flog durch die stillen Lande,
Als flöge sie nach Haus (by Joseph Eichendorff)

—/-/- (7)
/–/-/ (6)
/–/-/- (7)
-/-/-/ (6)

Note that Eichendorff’s poem has a 7/6/7/6 syllable pattern with an ABAB rhyme with the first line split unnaturally (enjambment) to capture rhyme and maintain syllables. But it seems to lack rhythm we would imagine in English poetry of that era.  Maybe Claudia will correct me if I am wrong.

Here is Aue’s translation:

And, oh, my soul extended
its wings through skies to roam:
O’er quiet lands suspended,
my soul was flying home. (translation by Walter A. Aue)

-/-/-/- (7)
-/-/-/ (6)
-/-/-/ (6)
-/-/-/ (6)

Note, we suddenly have iambic meter and rhyme is preserved (ABAB) — but at the expense of the original feeling?

I heard that “Free Verse” was originally created when poets realized that trying to preserve rhyme and meter distorted originals too much.

So here are my four attempts at translation.

And my soul reached out
her wings so wide
to soar the quiet land
on her homeward ride.

–/-/ (5)
-/-/ (4)
-/-/-/ (6)
/-/-/ (5)

Above I cut the syllables but kept some rhyme (xAxA) but ignored meter while trying to capture another feeling.

Another attempt:

My soul spread wide
her wings to fly
o’re quiet lands
as she came home.

Above I played with radically shorter syllables using iambic dimeter.

My soul spread wide
her wings to fly
o’re quiet lands
back home to die.

Finally above, I added a different final line, keeping an xAxA rhyme and the same iambic dimeter but added much poetic liberty — to show you something I saw.

Questions to readers: So, which of my translations did you prefer? What are your thoughts on translating poems?



Prompt: Gaylelyag @ d’Verse Poets, challenged us to write a palindrome poem. Here is my indulgence in this popular form of the 1800s.  A very hard form to write quickly without generating nonsense. But thank the deities this it is poetry, where all can be forgiven.

April Awareness


April Awareness

My head throbs with each loud voice
as I slam into a car while reading a billboard
instead of the yield sign perched with sparrows
calling out in the morning to who knows whom.

I write poem after poem
as if crafting is a joke
as if ribbons on my bumper
matter more than meaning.

Playing, eating, driving
unaware of being aware
more concerned about
this than your that.

by Sabio Lantz
April 2013


Notes:  Posted on d’Verse Poets — intentionally at the end of the Mr. Linky line. There, Joseph Hesch quotes Emily Dickinson where she tells us: “The truth must dazzle gradually”.  But there are many ways to tell the truth — different voices reach different people, though others may tell us the voices they prefer.  Here are some differing opinions:

  • “They prayed for boldness to speak the Truth”
    — Luke, Acts 4:29 (80 AD)
  • “man can’t handle the truth unfiltered!”
    – Emily Dickenson, (1830-1886) Tell All the Truth but Tell it Slant
  • “Truth, you want the truth, you can’t handle the truth!”
    – Jack Nicholas, A Few Good Men (1992)
  • “Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.”
    – Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

BTW:  Speaking about how you should think, feel or talk, if you want to know what to be aware of in coming months, click here


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