Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Ages

A new age does not begin all of a sudden.
My grandfather was already living in the new age
My grandson will probably still be living in the old one.
The new meat is eaten with the old forks.

It was not the first cars
Nor the tanks
It was not the airplanes over our roofs
Nor the bombers.

From new transmitters came the old stupidities.
Wisdom was passed on from mouth to mouth.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sacco and Vanzetti

Oh say there, have you heard the news
Sacco worked at trimming shoes

Vanzetti was a traveling man
Pushed his cart round with his hands

Two good men's a long time gone
Sacco and Vanzetti are gone
Two good men's a long time gone
Left me here to sing this song
Sacco came from across the sea
Somewhere over Italy
Vanzetti born of parents fine
Drank the best Italian wine
Sacco was a family man
Sacco's wife three children had
Vanzetti was a dreaming man
A book was always in his hand

Sacco made his bread and butter
Being the factory's best shoe-cutter
Vanzetti worked both day and night
Taught the people how to fight
I'll tell you if you ask me
About the payroll robbery
Two clerks were shot in the shoe factory

There in the streets of old Braintree
I'll tell you the prosecutors' names
Katman, Adams, Williams, Kane
Them and the judge were the best of friends
Did more tricks than circus clowns

The judge he told his friends around
"Gonna put them rebels down"
"Anarchist bastards" was the name
The judge he gave these two fine men
Vanzetti docked in '98
Slept upon a dirty street
Taught the people how to organize

Now in the electric chair he dies
All us people ough to be
Like Sacco and Vanzetti
Every day find ways to fight
On the people side for workers' rights

                                                                - Song by Woody Guthrie and David Rovics 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The sky, it’s said, came down to meet the earth, 
And so, it’s said, Horizon came to birth. 
This son of Earth and Sky I swore to find: 
I ran... he ran... and left me far behind.

Ah well, I thought, this rascal’s hard to catch, 
But one fine day he’s going to find his match.

I see now how he slips from place to place, 
From ridge to farther ridge as I pursue; 

So I must spare no pains and speed my pace, 
And, if I fail, begin the chase anew.

I’ll leave my mark in that Horizon-land, 
Cut down those ever-beckoning skyline trees, 
And tame his beasts to eat out of my hand.... 
But ever to new boundaries he flies.

On foot, I find, I cannot match his speed; 
I saddle up and mount a doughty steed; 
Horizon treats this challenge with disdain.... 
From horse to car I change, but still in vain. 
From car to plane—and in the sky I vow 
This son of Sky will not escape me now!

But in the air the situation changes: 
Where is the skyline to these mountain ranges?

Beneath my eyes in swift succession flowing 
Are forests, lakes, fields ready for the sowing. 
A wealth of scenes for me to feast my eyes on. 
But where, oh where’s this runaway horizon?

However fast I run or ride or fly, 
Your swift retreat keeps pace with my advance; 
Whatever speed I set or trick I try, 
You still keep leading me a merry dance....

Horizon, you have gone without a trace. 
Perhaps you never had a real existence. 
But one good thing I brought back from the chase— 
A lesson in endurance and persistence.

My friends and I, exploring far and wide, 
Keep opening new horizons, rich and real, 
And when we hear of any paths untried, 
Again we’ll show our courage and our zeal.

Despite all losses, bitter though they are, 
We’ll bring them nearer, goals that are still far!

Translated by Archie Johnstone

                                                        MIKHAIL SVETLOV

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Fool

A horse should be feared from the tail-end, my friend: 
From the fore-end—the cow and the bull. 
    from all points of view, 
          from beginning to end, 
Beware, beware of the fool!

Whenever a fool is installed in the place 

Intended by right for the wise 
The fool’s true identity promptly to trace 
Is hard for the keenest of eyes.

For sometimes a fool may be glib and polite, 
Not at all an inveterate brute. 
The fool may be able to speak and to write 
Or to be quite impressively mute.

One fool single-handed can muddle, my friend, 
So much in a moment’s course 
That ten hundred men will be helpless to mend 
By wisdom, patience or force.

But here we may mention a general rule 
To be followed by wise men hereafter: 
Though there’s plentiful reasons to fear a fool, 
Remember: a fool fears laughter!

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

After Passing By

After Passing By
The children watch
a distant point.
Lamps go out.
Some blind girls

question the moon
and spirals of grief
rise in the air.
The mountains survey
a distant point.

Federico Garcia Lorca