My poems resemble the bread of Egypt–one night
passes over it, and you can’t eat it anymore.
So gobble them down now, while they’re still fresh
before the dust of the world settles on them.
Where a poem belongs is here, in the warmth of the chest;
out in the world it dies of cold.
You’ve seen a fish–put him on dry land,
he quivers for a few minutes, and then is still.
And even if you eat my poems while they’re still fresh,
you still have to bring forward many images yourself.
Actually, friend, what you’re eating is your own imagination.
These are not just a bunch of old proverbs.
(translated by Robert Bly)