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From Sonnet 56

Sweet love, renew thy force, be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but today by feeding is allayed,
Tomorrow sharp’ned in his former might.

So love be thou, although today thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, ev’n till they wink with fullness.
Tomorrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.

Let this sad interim like the oceans be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;

As call it winter, which being full of care,
Makes summer’s welcome, thrice more wished, more rare.

Homosyntactic Translation 

Bright winter, withhold your warmth; even though
Your grass is often greener than summer,
Which recently the snow made cold,
Today it’s frozen in a lovely whiteness.

And when love cuts us, tomorrow heals
Our frantic wounds, and love darkens with kindness.
Yesterday lives today and won’t exchange
Its gift of life for a lasting strangeness.

Make our dark words, like oceans breaking,
Avoid that world, where hearts freshly broken
Slowly leave their beds. For when love senses
The turning of desire, the cold is everlasting.

Or blame the summer. While sleeping under ground,
It forgives winter’s seizure, three times named and forgotten.


If winter comes to summer, hunger to feasting,
If summer falls and love is beaten,

If we are familiar but not a family,
If the gods are hidden and the wind wretched.

If the edge were blunter, appetite sharper.
If love lasted longer, and life was stronger.

If one is rain, two the weeping.
If three is winter, and four goes begging.

Song of the leaf and song of knowing,
Song of stones and water flowing.

Song of love’s sheer ambition.
Song of days and song of money.

Saved by dirt and cured of wanting,
Saved by dark, bar-coded angels.

Saved by leaving and returning.
Saved by the space that fell between us.

Moral thoughts and moral action,
Antiseptic sweat, antiseptic semen.

Only the long hum of experience,
only roads worn by the passing.


Sweet love, where did you go today?
Did you go to the wood alone
Or dance in town with another man?
I think I’m turning to stone.

I have been to the wood alone, said she,
My heart is sharp for you.
I have no appetite, no edge for another.
I am only and always true.

A little love keeps us hungry, said he,
We eat ‘til our eyes are closed.
We are blind in our dreams and in love,
We eat love down to the bone.

You’re mine for a day and forever, said she.
We never kill love with dullness.
Our love has no fences, no ocean between us
Love is our promise, our fullness.

I will go to the wood to find you, said he,
There will be no pause in us
But a deep, shining, unending river,
A lasting trust, a promise.

Love, come as you are to the window.
Our winter, so full of care, 
Withdraws to the heart’s last edge.
Let’s see how summer fares.


Sweet not-said blunt-edge
appetite sharpened.
Sharp hungry eyes have it, 
swing low through stone, 
temporal weather.

No fullness in the interim-ocean.
Pricked dullness, contracted shore.
Winter’s half-said, summer over.
When love returns, the dark is ready.

Paul Hoover will have three books published in 2018: the poetry volume The Book of Unnamed Things (MadHat Press); an Italian translation of his novel Saigon, Illinois (Carbonio Editores); and his translation with Maria Baranda, The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz (Milkweed Editions). He teaches at San Francisco State University.