ignore all that astrology: Horace and Ovid

June 27, 2018

"Elegy" is a loaded word in classical poetry; Ovid’s poem for Tibullus employs it in its several senses. Tibullus (ca. 55–19 BC) was a love elegist, called by Quintilian tersus atque elegans (“polished and elegant”). The love elegy is a specifically Roman genre, written in elegiac...

photo by Gabriel de Andrade Fernandes, via Creative Commons License

Discovery of Brazils in 15 Scenes

May 22, 2018

Fernando Bonassi’s unusual and fragmented short story “Discovery of Brazils in 15 Scenes” (“15 Cenas de descobrimento de Brasis”) has no unified narrative, plot, or character. Instead, the piece relies on the greater picture it presents, on its cumulative effect.

The fifteen fragments...

Three Demons: Haiku by Sanki

February 13, 2018


In 1925, the year of his graduation from dental school and his marriage to Shigeko Uehara, Keichoku Saitō emigrated with his wife to British Singapore at the invitation of his brother, Takeo, twenty years his senior and the family head since their father's...

Poetry is astonishingly so: Poems by Ya Shi

November 17, 2017

These three short poems by the Sichuan poet Ya Shi, 哑石, center around hunger, pursuit, violence, and sustenance—whether those feelings are felt by a reader pursuing a poem, an epicure tasting exotic foods, or the witness of a colorful landscape bursting into view. As is so often the case in Ya...

Photo by Henri Bergius on Creative Commons license.

The Viking

October 18, 2017

Translator's introduction

You know the old saw, “A real Viking never drinks under a blackened roof ridge.” No? Well, neither did I. I learned it while translating the famous nineteenth-century Swedish epic, “The Viking,” by Erik Geijer. It was the sister of my...

The author and translator

someone takes wing: Poems by Abdourahman Waberi

August 25, 2017

Abdourahman A. Waberi is a prize-winning poet, novelist, short story writer, and critic born in Djibouti, a tiny country in the Horn of Africa about the size of Massachusetts, squeezed between Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Muslim by birth, Waberi’s themes include living a simple life based on...

photo courtesy of Arte Fora do Museu

May Day

June 9, 2017

During the year I spent living in São Paulo, I became obsessed with graffiti. With its gated communities and high-security shopping malls, the city can seem hostile, as though built on a scale too large for its own residents. But it comes alive and is filled with color by the people who find...

Countrysidedays: Poems by Daniela Danz

May 5, 2017

Daniela Danz is a young East German poet who has been described as the “new voice” of German poetry. Her third book of poems, V, (2014) explores the evolution of the concept of fatherland. The word Vaterland, from which the title comes, formerly denoted “the father’s field,”...

All Colors Extinguish Without A Trace: Two Contemporary Uyghur Poets

March 30, 2017

Guma, a county in the deep south of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, has in recent decades produced a succession of remarkable poets. Perhaps the best known is Ghojimuhemmed Muhemmed, born 1971 in the village of Qoshtagh, and author of one of the most wide-ranging bodies of work in...

Return All You Took In: Poems by Arseny Tarkovsky

February 17, 2017

Arseny Tarkovsky (1907-1989), the filmmaker's father, was perhaps the most technically and lyrically accomplished poet of Russia’s "War Generation." He worked as a translator of poetry and as a war correspondent. Wounded in action in WWII, he suffered six progressive amputations of his leg. It...

A psalm rises: Poems after Antonio Machado

December 6, 2016

Translator's Note

On January 27, 1939, in torrential rain, the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado entered France on foot. He was accompanied by his mother, his brother José, and his brother’s family. More than two years prior, the civil war had exiled Antonio from his...

Bubbly in the Vulva

October 12, 2016

"Bubbly in the Vulva" is the opening poem in Stormwarning, Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir's third book of poetry. A fitting harbinger, it is scathing and direct, dripping sarcasm into a deadpan collection. Turning sexist condescension into spoonfuls of sugar, the poem uses tax jargon to...

Illustration by James Steinberg.

Aftenmalkning: Evening Milking

August 19, 2016

"Evening Milking" takes place on a razor’s edge, on the fulcrum between the period of a prevalance of interdependent small farming communities and more recent times, when these communities have all but disappeared. It was a quiet revolution, an exodus from the land for millions of farming...

That Golden Self: Poems by Zang Di

July 7, 2016

An inveterate traveler and obsessive observer, Zang Di uses his daily experience as an entryway into personal abysses. His poems tend to begin with finely wrought details, frequently of the natural world, and proceed inward along paths of his own idiosyncratic logic to cut open and reveal the...

I, Lonesome, Writing: Poems by Paul Celan

June 7, 2016

Dichten, the German word for writing poetry, literally means “to make dense,” and Celan’s poems are rich with neologisms and compounded words. As Celan himself suggested, the only way to decipher his poetry is to read it over and over again, allowing for multiple layers of meaning....

One Hundred Poems of the Dharma Gate: Spring Poems from Jakuzen’s Hōmon Hyakushu

March 3, 2016

The author of these poems, Jakuzen, a 12th century priest of the Buddhist Tendai sect, resided outside the capital of Kyoto in Ōhara. His two brothers, Jakuchō and Jakunen, were also poet-priests. Together, the three were known as the Ōhara sanjaku (the three “jaku” of Ōhara). Jakuzen...

Until My Resurrection

January 6, 2016

If César Vallejo had been born in the South Bronx in the early 1960s instead of in rural Peru in the 1890s, I like to think he would have been a cofounder of hip-hop. His style is a mixture of traditional and folk influences; he wrote with his ear, not with his eye; and he was certainly no...

Sijo scroll

Moon Door: Versions of Korean Sijo

November 18, 2015

Before the Korean alphabet (han’gul) was invented in the fifteenth century, Korean poetry was written in Classical Chinese characters, using the disciplined conventions of the T’ang Dynasty. Korean poems written in Chinese (hansi) reached a particularly beautiful level in the...

washington cucurto

Transversal: A Latin American Poetry Lab at Harvard

March 1, 2014

The following poems are selections from translations commissioned by the Woodberry Poetry Room for Transversal: A Latin American Poetry Lab at Harvard, which took place November 5-7, 2013. This three-day series of readings, talks, workshops, and presentations highlighted contemporary Latin...

Li Shangyin

The Za Zuan

June 4, 2013

The following lists are from the Za Zuan by Li Shangyin (ca. 813–858), a late-Tang poet famous for his lush intricacy and imagery. Written in a spare, candid style, the pieces in this little-known text record the author’s reactions to the mundane in shifting tones of humor,...

Kesar King of Ling

The Life of King Kesar of Ling

February 8, 2012


In societies where a majority of the population is not literate storytelling assumes an important position in education and cultural life. The Tibetan epic of Ling Kesar (also transliterated as "Gesar") is just such a story. Like all epics, it is long and instructive,...

Hotel Lautréamont: Contemporary Poetry from Uruguay

April 18, 2011

Welcome to Harvard Review's first ever bilingual poetry feature. We present here an excerpt of poems from Hotel Lautréamont, an upcoming anthology of Uruguayan poetry in translation. Place your cursor on each line of a poem to see the original Spanish. You can get to each of...