Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Even Now I Love this Poem

  1. At the end of Cannery Row by Steinbeck, there is a poem that I always admired. I was always under the impression that it was written by Steinbeck himself, but in fact he edited it down from a long love poem, Chaurapanchasika, written in the 11th century by Kasmiri poet Bilhana Kavi. The original is 50 stanzas.
Steinbeck quoted the 1919 translation titled Black Marigolds by the English poet Powys Mathers.

Here is that version:

Even now

I mind the coming and talking of wise men from


Where they had thought away their youth. And I,


Found not the salt of the whispers of my girl,

Murmur of confused colors, as we lay near sleep;

Little wise words and little witty words,

Wanton as water, honied with eagerness.

Even now

I mind that I loved cypress and roses, clear,

The great blue mountains and the small gray hills,

The sounding of the sea. Upon a day

I saw strange eyes and hands like butterflies;

For me at morning larks flew from the thyme

And children came to bathe in little streams

Even now

I know that I have savored the hot taste of life

Lifting green cups and gold at the great feast.

Just for a small and forgotten time

I have had full in my eyes from off my girl

The whitest pouring of eternal light---

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