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POETRY: Nina Cassian

EVOLUTION

Today a grandly furious storm
hurled a pile of mussels at my feet,
reminding me of the first creation.
O sea, that element in which I was born.

Cradle of life, long convoy
of sea anemones, reptiles
and scaly monsters, winding towards us
imprisoned in our sweet and fragile forms...

I came from the sea and to the sea
I would return, to be immersed in her story,
ever lost and everlasting.
Black mussels on the shore: memento mori.

[translated by Stanley Kunitz] 

THE BEAR

The bear paces the cage for hours
the four bars in the four corners
drip with his saliva and sniffs
the bear's snout up and down on
the four bars, only the four bars
a frenzy for four sides.
If the cage were completely round
he'd stand in the centre for hours
feeling all points narrowing tight
to a prison and at last he'd lose
the tragic illusion of a road along
one side and from there again along
another side and from there again along
another side and from there, again...

[translated by Laura Schiff] 

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