To a Saxon Poet


Translation by Robert Mezey and Richard Barnes

Snow fallen on Northumberland has known
And forgotten every footprint that you made,
And numberless the sunsets that have greyed,
My unknown brother, between your hour and mine.
Slowly, in slow shade, you forged laborious
Metaphors of swordblades in the seas,
Of living horror hidden in the forest,
And of the solitude that dogs our days.
Where can I nd your deeds, your name, your birth?
They all are long sealed in oblivion.
I’ll never know you as you must have been
When you were a man like me and walked the earth.
Lone exile was the road you trudged along.
Now you are nothing but your iron song.

Robert Mezey’s poems, prose, and translations have appeared in The New YorkerHarper’s Poetry, and The Paris Review, among many others. His poems can be found in numerous anthologies and textbooks and have been translated into many languages.

Richard Barnes was a professor of renaissance and medieval literature at Pomona College in California for nearly forty years. A Word Like Fire, a posthumous selection of Barnes’ poetry, was published in 2005 by Handsel Books.

First published in Measure, Volume 2 (2007)