New East Digital Archive

4 summer poems to make you feel free 

4 summer poems to make you feel free 

We often associate summers with picnics, holidays, or new romances. But with a pandemic as a backdrop, all of these can get a little tricky. We’ve selected four contemporary, summer-themed poems reflecting on love, freedom, nature, and resilience that will transport you away from your home and on to new journeys.

3 July 2020
Selection: Paula Erizanu
Top image: Igor Starkov / Unsplash

In the Swimming Pool

Written by Giedre Kazlauskaite and translated by Rimas Uzgiris

They would allow me in “the frog pond” at Palanga,

in order to teach me how to swim.

The teacher was strict:

you had to do “the little star” right away,

to swim with boards,

then dive to the bottom

to find the key.

I had no sense of how

I was doing there, on the water.

Much later, during my studies,

I was writing a paper on a phrase

found in Camus’ notebooks:

I must write in the same way

that I must swim: because my body

requires it.

My body in adolescence

was ready enough to swim

to suit the lake’s initiative.

My daughter’s body,

swimming free without repression,

would not pass muster in the kiddie pool.

The lakes of books I swam across

as if drowning — each time I gasped

more dramatically

when I reached the shore.

My daughter’s lettering, pressed

all over my documents, is almost

unwilled, resistant to doctrine,

training, and the coach’s whistle.

In the swimming pool,

we wave our separate flippers —

just one body and blood

in our sacramental chalice.

Giedre Kazlauskaite is an award-winning Lithuanian poetess and author of four poetry collections, and editor of the weekly cultural periodical Šiaurės Atėnai (Athens of the North).

What a poem needs

Written by Esad Babacic and translated by Andrej Pleterski


Plenty of air.

And a landscape.

A human in the middle,

sitting by the fire,

warming his hands.

Esad Babacic is one of Slovenia’s most celebrated poets. Author of 15 collections of poetry, he is also a literary critic, translator from Serbian and Bosnian, journalist, actor, script-writer and activist.

Van in Vama Veche, Romania. Image: Adriana Radu via Unsplash

Van in Vama Veche, Romania. Image: Adriana Radu via Unsplash

From Sentimental and Naïve Poetry

Written by Dan Sociu and translated by Oana Sânziana Marian

We climbed out of the car, me to smoke,

you to collect ladybirds. We both

stopped near a tree-stump, made

two children, and in a year the storm took

our roof off. Another year burned

our little summer kitchen

to the ground. We endured hard winters,

snows that stuck and couldn’t be

unstuck from our skin. The clouds whizzed by

electrifying my beard. The children grew,

but our gazes remained young.

I threw out the cigarette butt, you put the bugs

in your pockets. We left the stump

behind, turned back to the road, to the car.

Dan Sociu is a renowned Romanian poet and author of seven poetry collections. He also works as an editor and translator from English.

The Bridge

Written and translated by Manjola Nasi

There is a bridge here, and I see myself

swaying on it.

The water, the trees, the afternoon light,

the creases between stones, dark and mossy,

the dragonflies, the tiny breeze of their wings.

There’s not a single soul by the river bank.

The bridge is here and I’m swaying inside it

like a child in a cot, lulled to sleep, to grow.

But I am the cross-section between bygone and nothing,

inconvenient past

embarrassing the present.

Implied promises are less binding than uttered ones.

The bridge is I myself, and I am the bridge.

What started out as human sacrifice by

immurement, so that the bridge would hold,

ended giving me the inflexible freedom

that if I want, I, too may not collapse,

now that I only have stones to bear.

No one comes this way, yet the bridge still holds on.

Manjola Nasi is an acclaimed Albanian poetess and author of two poetry collections. She is also an English language and creative writing lecturer and translator from English.

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