William Ruleman – Seven Poems

jamaica 125William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he teaches a wide range of courses, including creative writing and literature, with a specialization in modern poetry in English, including that of Yeats, whose hometown of Sligo he will be visiting on May 2013. His poems have appeared most recently in Open Writing and Poetry Salzburg Review, but also in many other journals, while his first two books of poetry were published by Feather Books of Shrewsbury, England, and his translations of Stefan Zweig’s early novellas and stories appeared in 2011 from Ariadne Press. Currently he has several other books of poems and translations in progress.

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ROBINSON CRUSOE FINDS FRIDAY

He stopped when he saw me, his fright-filled eyes immense.
When I saw him, I stood as if turned to stone,
Mid-stride. O heavenly offense!
O well-shaped man! O joy, to be overthrown
By love, by the kindred sight of lips and eyes
And knees and hands and ears and five-toed feet
Like mine . . . This quite familiar form just shies
A bit, then spreads its feet, makes no retreat:
An answer to my call. Sweet melody
Of the human voice! Do I share such pulchritude?
Has God created this playmate for me
Simply to mirror my solitude?

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ROBINSON FINDET FREITAG

Er blieb, da er mich sah, erschrocken stehn,
Ich stand, der ihn erblickte, Stein, verblieben
In der Gebärde: himmlischem Vergehn.
O Menschen-Wohlgestalt! O Glück, zu lieben
Im Blick Verwandtes: Auge, Lippe, Knie,
Ein Ohr wie meines, Füße, fünfgespalten,
Und Hände, ganz vertraute Form, wie die
Sich breitend jetzt, der Schritt, nun aufzuhalten
Länger nicht mehr und dort erwidert, scheu…
Antwort jetzt meinem Ruf. O süß Getön
Von Stimme! Schuf mir zum Gespielen neu
Spiegelnd mich Einsamkeit?
Bin ich so schön?!

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ON A PACKET OF LETTERS

I picked it up (the faded thing that I
Had long declared deceased) as gingerly
As an ash-filled urn, concerned the dust might fly
When I carried it. Yet still, it burdened me:

Now vanished heavens crashed down shining, streaming;
Temptation, like the serpent once, lisped now;
And long-lost hells returned now, beaming,
Nestling snugly round my cheeks and brow.

And then I watched the flowering flames ascend
The way life burns—hot, livid, naked, red—
And sing like a choir: now this is the end.
We live, we live. But you are dead.

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AUF EIN PACKET MIT BRIEFEN

So jahrlang totgesagt, daß ich es hob
Wie eine Aschenurne. Und gefaßt
Daß nicht der Staub aus dem Verblichnen stob
Wollt ich sie tragen. Doch mich bog die Last:

Entschwundne Himmel brachen strahlend nieder
Versuchung lispelte wie einst die Schlange,
Verlorne Höllen kehrten lächelnd wieder
Und schmiegten sich vertraut um Stirn und Wange.

Und alle brannten wie das Leben brennt
Und waren feurig-blühend, nackt und rot,
Und sprachen chorweis; dies nun ist das End.
Wir leben, leben. Aber du bist tot.

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DON QUIXOTE STRUGGLES WITH GOD

(by Maria Luise Weissmann; translated by William Ruleman)

When you should bless me, what does it avail,
Colossal one, that you should lash and flail
Me; that your power, blesséd one, should fail
Me; that your breath, angry one, should leave me pale?

Now I’m lying somewhere. And I’m little more
Than dust in the dust past recognition, poor
And small. And your great eye wanders o’er
This desert spot where I’ve been cast ashore.

I’ll not forsake you, though, because, when you
Deny me other struggles, Pure One, heed:
I’ll call you up in puddles mirroring you;

I’ll fight with you, my only foe; and when
The dust chokes me, you do. With each deep need,
I seize you, Lord. You bless me then.

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DON QUICHOTE KÄMPFT MIT GOTT

Da Du mich segnen sollst, was frommt Dir dies,
Daß Deine Hand, Gewaltger, mich verstieß,
Daß Deine Kraft, Gesegneter, mich ließ,
Daß mich Dein Atem, Zürnender, verbließ?

Nun lieg ich irgendwo. Und ich bin nicht mehr
Als Staub im Staube, unerkennbar, sehr
Gering. Und schweift Dein großes Auge her
Auf meine Stätte, trübt sichs wolkig leer.

Ich aber laß Dich nicht. Da Du verneint
Mir ändern Kampf, sieh, Reiner, her: ich bot
Dich auf, in Pfützen spiegelnd, kämpfe, Feind
O Einziger mit Dir: Du würgst mich wenn

Der Staub mich würgt. In jede ärmste Not
Reiß ich Dich Gott: Du segnetest mich denn.

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IN THE MAXIMILIANSANLAGEN

(behind the Hofbräukeller Biergarten, Englischer Garten,
Munich, 21 May 2014)

The heat has all the city out tonight;
I hardly know why they are driven so,
But most seem urged along by evening’s flow
To search for wonder, thrills, relief, delight.

Some may not find their pleasure’s sought-for height,
While some may see Time’s well-kept treasures grow.
Some, moved by love’s or lust’s insistent glow
May stumble on some unforeseen insight.

In any case, whatever else transpires,
The Hofbräu spills its guests out on the grass
To form a timeless kind of twilight scene

Of lovers, children, dogs against the green;
And though this fleeting fleshly bliss will pass,
Those flickering spring leaves hint of future fires.

 

 

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