The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 237

Late Spring 2013

One critic said that a good translator
must have the eyes and ears of a thief,
the heart of a poet,
the agility of a pickpocket,
and many nations buried in his soul.
Here are a dozen or so translations
from over the last twenty years that have
transfixed and delighted us.

Philip Larkin:
The Complete Poems
"There are, in this collection,
and now for the world to know,
perhaps a half-dozen poems that stand
with the greatest in the modern English oeuvre:
Yeats without the Gaelic nonsense,
Eliot without the distancing chilblains,
Auden without the simpering,
Owens without the war."

The Color of Hay
"The book is divided into a dozen or so chapters
(Spring, Winter, Autumn, Home, Clothes, Food,
The Ceremonies of Life, Marriage, Old Age, Death)
and the photographs are displayed
just as they should be:
simple, direct, unflinching."

Drinking with Men
"She can capture a drunken evening
better than Malcolm Lowery,
with a great deal less self-castigation.
Once, she decides she has to
give up on one of her favorite drinking-holes.
It is like giving up an old love for
most of the turning points in her life
seem to come in bars."

Scenes from Early Life
"Being thrown into jail
was the most enjoyable night
of my father's young life.
In the morning, when he
and my mother had been released,
he went home with her, still singing Bengali songs
about national rivers being dammed
by the Pakistani yoke."

News from Heaven
"'Why do you study all night?'
'It's my job.
I'll be studying for
the rest of my life.'
His smile was broad,
like his father's."

"He bought old 'potboiler' paintings at
various junk shops and manufactured artworks.
He would put out a couple dozen in a weekend,
sometimes undercoating them with 'rude words' that
would show up if the painting were X-Rayed
to verify its originality."

Script and Scribble
"The tragedy of old age is not that
one is old but that one is young."

My Escapee
"'My Escapee' is the title story, the first of ten.
Is it daring? Yes. Funny? Very. Sad?
Inexpressibly so, for it tells of a very old woman
who has lost the love of her life in a most despicable way.
A woman of eighty-eight years who still loves to love."

Great Reviews of the Past
Richie Havens

"We find out about his wife and his daughters
in the 'Acknowledgments' section, but that's it.
Is there love there? Hate? Anger?
Does he do anything when he's with them
outside of reminiscing about
all the famous people he's known,
and all the deals he's signed."

The White House

Insults to Texans

Cryptic Letters of the Month
Pet Blowing Machine

The Privileged Cat
"Through millennia of living with humans,
cats have made the fewest compromises.
We provide them a barnyard of mice,
protection from predators,
and regular bonus meals --- in return for which,
they lead their lives as they would anyway:
sleeping eighty percent of the time
and playing with their food."

The Pakistani Taxi Driver
"'Miss?' he asks tenderly. 'You are crying. Miss?'
I sniffle and confirm that yeth, I am crying.
'What's wrong? What has made you sad?'
I have to think about that."

Black Earth City
"It was funding investigations
into alien landings in the Voronezh region,
as there had been so many sightings.
One had even been reported by the Tass news agency:
humanoid giants, three or four meters high
with very small heads, had landed
in a vehicle like a shining ball right in
the center of the city."

"You clamber towards me on your four corners ---
right hand, left foot, left hand, right foot.
I love you for being a toad,
for crawling like a Japanese wrestler,
and for not being frightened."

Rag & Bone
"That sun ray has raced to us
at those millions of miles an hour.
But when it reaches the floor of the room
it creeps slower than a philosopher,
it makes a bright puddle
that alters like an amoeba,
it climbs the door
as though it were afraid it would fall."

The Noisiest Book Review in the Known World
has just been published.
It contains 200 or so of what we believe
to be the best articles, readings, reviews and poems
from this magazine from our first issue in 1995.
Here you will find all necessary information
on ordering this two-volume set
which one critic called "magic."


All the back-issues of RALPH,
including titles of books under review,
along with author, subject, and publisher,
plus links to readings, articles, and poems
that have appeared on-line
since 1994.

of our most notorious reviews
as collected in the hard-copy

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San Diego CA 92176

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