poetry translation

Signs & Wonders (Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction)


Signs is a noun (as in DO NOT DISTURB); Wonders (as in "with furrowed brows"), a verb. The couplet that leads into Charles Martin's fifth collection of richly inventive poems suggests that the world is to be read into and wondered over. The signs in this new work from the prize-winning American poet of formal brilliance and darkly comic sensibility are as stark as the one on a cage at the zoo that says ENDANGERED SPECIES, as surprising as those that announce the return of irony, and as enigmatic as a single word carved on a tombstone.

cover of Signs & Wonders (Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction)author: Charles Martin
ASIN or ISBN-10: 0801899745
binding: Hardcover
list price: $32.00 USD
amazon price: $24.51 USD


Charles Martin

Charles Martin’s most recent book of poems is Signs & Wonders, published in 2011 by Johns Hopkins University Press. His verse translation of the Metamorphoses of Ovid (2004) received the Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy of American Poets. In 2005, he received an Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He served as Poet in Residence at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York from 2005 to 2009.



Dovid Zisman

Dovid Zisman (1914 – 1960), a Holocaust survivor, was a poet, playwright and performer in Poland. Known for his poetry in the Lodz ghetto, he was sent to a work camp in the German factory Hasag-Pelcery in Czestochowa in 1943 and later sent to the concentration camp Buchenwald. He wrote and performed his writing during his imprisonment and torture in labor and concentration camps. Following liberation, he married Helen Zisman and continued to write poetry and prose.


Laine Zisman Newman

Laine Zisman Newman, Dovid’s youngest granddaughter, is a PhD student in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. Her practical and academic work focuses on creating and promoting equitable theatre practices. Her creative and scholarly work has been published in Canadian Theatre Review; The Rusty Toque; Journal of Dance, Movement and Spiritualties (forthcoming, 2014); and Studies in Documentary Film.



Shifra Zisman

Shifra Zisman, Dovid Zisman’s youngest daughter, is a Canadian actress and teacher who performed throughout Canada’s east coast in the 1970s as part of the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre Company. As a drama and music consultant, she currently works in Early Childhood Education, and instructs college courses in Toronto, Ontario.



Exotic Perfume

english translation

Exotic Perfume

original French poem

Parfum Exotique

Quand, les deux yeux fermés, en un soir chaud d’automne,
Je respire l’odeur de ton sein chaleureux,
Je vois se dérouler des rivages heureux
Qu’éblouissent les feux d’un soleil monotone;

Un île paresseuse où la nature donne
Des arbres singuliers et des fruits savoureux;
Des hommes dont le corps est mince et vigoureux,
Et des femmes dont l’œil par sa franchise étonne.

Guidé par ton odeur vers de charmants climats,
Je vois un port rempli de voiles et de mâts
Encore tout fatigués par la vague marine,

Pendant que le parfum de verts tamariniers,
Qui circule dans l’air et m’enfle la narine,
Se mêle dans mon âme au chant des mariniers.



english translation


original Spanish poem

¿Qué tengo yo que mi amistad procuras?
¿Qué interés se te sigue, Jesús mío, 
que a mi puerta, cubierto de rocío, 
pasas las noches del invierno oscuras?

 O, cuánto fueron mis entrañas duras, 
pues no te abrí, qué extraño desvarío, 
si de mi ingratitud el hielo frío 
secó las llagas de tus plantas puras. 

Cuántas veces el ángel me decía: 
"Alma, asómate ahora a la ventana, 
verás con cuánto amor llamar porfía". 

Y cuántas, hermosura soberana, 
"Mañana le abriremos", respondía, 
para lo mismo responder mañana.


Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega was born in Madrid in 1562. A poet, dramatist, novelist, and critic, he was also a soldier, and one of the survivors of the tragically misnamed Invincible Armada. He is generally acknowledged as the father of the Spanish drama, and, since his death in 1635, has been widely considered “the Spanish Shakespeare.” The poem presented here is drawn from his collection of “Sacred Sonnets.”



Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson holds graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and Boston University. Recent work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in a number of magazines, including 32 Poems, First Things, The Hopkins Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Measure, River Styx, and Sewanee Theological Review, among others. Currently living with his wife in Baltimore, he is a doctoral candidate at The Catholic University of America.



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