Poems to share

It’s easy for clouds

Not one but three cloud poems by Juris Kronbergs, reproduced by kind permission of the author and Emma Press, and translated by Mara Rozitis & Richard O’Brien.

It’s easy for clouds

It’s easy for clouds to play pretend!
But they don’t ever
do it to offend.

It’s just such heavenly fun, or so I’m told:
Never gets old!

I don’t know how,
but clouds can change
from their own selves to something strange:
a snake, a cake, a crow,
a crown, a car, a calf,
half a giraffe, a cart,
a carton or a tart.

I once knew a cloud
that turned into a song,
with a maudlin cloudy chorus.

It was so moved
as it crooned its tune,
tears welled up
till the cloud cried itself out.

Encyclopedias

In encyclopedias you can read,
if you desire, the names of clouds:
they’re very strange indeed.

Now listen, and I’ll tell you what
each cloud is for, from dark to white,
and what they want:

With Feather clouds
long ago clouds wrote poems and prose

Lamb’s wool clouds
line nightgowns and cloud-covers

Veil clouds are needed at weddings by brides
or if there’s something they have to hide

High-heap clouds are
stacks of cloudstraw

Shelf clouds are all found high up
on cloudcastle walls

Rainclouds are what clouds wear in showers:
their coats, the way cagoules are ours.

Heap clouds rarely sleep,
but bounce and bob and leapfrog,
navel-gazing at the cloudfluff
in their bellybuttons.

Thunderclouds police the skies

And Snowclouds shovel snowdrifts
from the streets and squares of cloudtowns.

This

What can clouds teach us?
Not much. Just this:

that fast or slow,
changes hardly show.
Sooner or later
everything must go.

Juris Kronbergs

Juris Kronbergs is a poet and translator. He was born in Sweden in 1946, to a family of Latvian artists. He studied Literature, Science, Nordic and Baltic languages at the University of Stockholm, and the Theory of Translation and 20th-century Poetry at the University of Cambridge, England. He has worked as a radio journalist, interpreter, diplomat and lecturer, and he has published sixteen poetry collections and sixty books of translations. His collection of poems for children, Mākoņu grāmata (liels un mazs, 2010), was published as The Book of Clouds by the Emma Press in 2018.