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Fountains in the Sea

Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.

Cunning life keeps asking for more and then a drop more.

Our ankles are weighted with lead, we delve under the wave.

We bend to our spades, we survive the force of the gusher.

Our bodies fountain with sweat in the deeps of the sea,

Our forehead aches and holds like a sunken prow.

We are out of breath, divining the heart of the geyser,

Constellations are bobbing like corks above on the swell.

Earth is a waterwheel, the buckets go up and go down,

But to keep the whole aqueous architecture standing its ground

We must make a ring with our bodies and dance out a round

On the dreamt eye of water, the dreamt eye of water, the dreamt eye of water.

Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.

Come rain, come thunder, come deluged dams washed away,

Our thirst is unquenchable. A cloud in the water’s a siren.

We become two shades, deliquescent, drowning in song.

My love, under the tall sky of hope

Our love and our love alone

Keeps dowsing for water.

Sinking the well of each other, digging together.

Each one the other’s phantom limb in the sea.

Translated by Seamus Heaney

Getting Used to Your Name

After you’ve learned to walk,

Tell one thing from another,

Your first care as a child

Is to get used to your name.

What is it?

They keep asking you.

You hesitate, stammer,

And when you start to give a fluent answer

Your name’s no longer a problem.

When you start to forget your name,

It’s very serious.

But don’t despair,

An interval will set in.

And soon after your death,

When the mist rises from your eyes,

And you begin to find your way

In the everlasting darkness,

Your first care (long forgotten,

Long since buried with you)

Is to get used to your name.

You’re called — just as arbitrarily —

Dandelion, cowslip, cornel,

Blackbird, chaffinch, turtle dove,

Costmary, zephyr — or all these together.

And when you nod, to show you’ve got it,

Everything’s all right:

The earth, almost round, may spin

Like a top among stars.

Translated by Gabriela Dragnea

With Only One Life

Hold with both hands

The tray of every day

And pass in turn

Along this counter.

There is enough sun

For everybody.

There is enough sky,

And there is moon enough.

The earth gives off the smell

Of luck, of happiness, of glory,

Which tickles your nostrils


So don’t be miserly,

Live after your own heart.

The prices are derisory.

For instance, with only one life

You can acquire

The most beautiful woman,

Plus a biscuit.