The International Literary Quarterly

February 2010


Rose Ausländer
Charles Bernstein
Amy Bloom
Jean Boase-Beier
Carmen Bugan
Moira Burgess
Larry Butler
James Byrne
Jim Carruth
Neil Charleton
Ronald Christ
A.C. Clarke
David Dawnay
Patricia Delmar
Des Dillon
Anne Donovan
Gerrie Fellows
Cheryl Follon
Ronald Frame
Hazel Frew
Rodge Glass
David Goldie
Jane Goldman
Martin Goodman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
Kusay Hussein
A.B. Jackson
Kapka Kassabova
Velimir Khlebnikov
David Kinloch
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Gerry Loose
James McGonigal
Gerry McGrath
Donal McLaughlin
Kate McLoughlin
Andrea McNicoll
Willy Maley
Peter Manson
Laura Marney
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Edwin Morgan
Ewan Morrison
Laura Muetzelfeldt
Hom Paribag
Mario Petrucci
Clare Pollard
Sheila Puri
Claire Quigley
Elizabeth Reeder
Alan Riach
Dilys Rose
Suhayl Saadi
Sue Reid Sexton
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Jim Stewart
Zoë Strachan
Chiew-Siah Tei
Valerie Thornton
Anthony Vivis
Marshall Walker
Zoë Wicomb
Xu Xi

40 Glasgow Voices

Volta: A Multilingual Anthology
(One poem: 82 languages)

Issue 10 Guest Artist:
John Hoyland RA

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Deputy Editor: Jill Dawson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boulossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Sari Nusseibeh
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Associate Editor: Jeff Barry
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Constellation by Jim Stewart  


The distances from one star to another
are great, the empty spaces cold and deep.

The light the primal stars arrange, is old
belated news, unreadable though bright.

One thinks of furthest distance, and no further;
resigns the ancient secret those lights keep.

There is no knowing them. They slip our hold
to leave us deeper stranded in a night

whose overwhelming darkness is our cover.
Numberless about the pole they creep,

enough to sprinkle the darkness, not to change
its intractable dark to light.

The covering darkness is for us a brother
to light itself, and is the friend of sleep,

for pure light would estrange
itself from the tender limit of our sight.

Mystics, heard to murmur lux est umbra
Dei  (‘light is the shadow of God’),

loved the simple beauty of their thought,
were comforted by it, and died in peace.

A move from deepest shadow to penumbra
too much to contemplate for awed

eyes unfit to see the truth they sought,
the symmetry of figure brought release.

And some believe the stars may spell
our destiny because of when we’re born,

that in the houses of the zodiac
is where our secret story really lives;

as if that cool indifference could foretell
the path of wandering souls, adorn

our domicile, and bring us back
the kind of peace homecoming gives.

Hesiod sang of the fourth, heroic age
between the bronze and this iron age of ours.

Its men lived on a bigger scale
than us in all respects. They fought at Troy

or Thebes, destroying armies in their rage,
no task beyond their godly powers.

They died as all men do but did not fail
to storm the dark blue city of the sky

and there they live and glitter, with their bow
or hound at heel, deathlessly bright

in triumph over all vicissitudes,
moving in dignity across the vault.

Looking out now, we know it wasn’t so.
The stories that gave life to them took flight

millennia since. Their stellar attitudes
overawe no more. It’s not our fault

we outgrew stardom of that kind and found
ourselves uncelebrated and alone,

unseen by those watchers in the dark.
No longer made a sacrifice of beasts,

they lost the fascination to astound
childish hearts. Pared now to the bone,

knowing the space we mark
in parsecs for inconceivable wastes

vacant and inhuman, we send craft
to dig about on planets and their moons

looking for the ice that might suggest
something beside ourselves had grown

in sand to which some passing shaft
of light has reached, latent among the dunes

of the frozen night, in the dust.
We sort the data from whatever drone

we sent to bring us news; and think
of going there. It seems the thing to do.

For most of us there’ll be no voyage out
to populate or even to explore

whatever eddies in that black-as-ink
pool of ignorance we thought we knew

and sounded ages past. This dream about
some other life, our current lore,

may go the way of heroes, of horoscopes
cast as though to comfort in the form

of dwellings that have known us where we live.
All that aside, used now to the loss

of archaic fantasy and hopes,
we gaze out at what cannot aid or harm,

and wonder what it has to give,
since we no longer fear the stars that cross

unhappy lovers.
                          And still those points dissemble
effortlessly, as him and her,

their creatures of a night’s tableaux,
with chairs and tables, bodies and bright faces.

Things in no relation still resemble
objects known, their gift of metaphor

plentiful, as figures come and go
in glyphs across the poetic spaces.