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Way back in 1960, I was inspired enough to buy a copy of "The Penguin Book of Spanish Verse". This book was such a revelation to me that I determined to learn Spanish, purely to increase my appreciation for such wonderful poems as Ruben Dario's "Cervantes", Ramon Lopez Velarde's "In the Depths of Twilight" and Miguel de Unamuno's "Full Moon on the Lake of Christ in the Village of Yeltes".
These superb poems number among the marvelous 21 translated in this collection. Readers familiar with Spanish poetry will find these translations far superior to any previously published; while those who have never encountered Spanish poetry before are in for an enchanting surprise.
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John Howard Reid
"ESCAPE TO PARADISE AND OTHER POETIC FANCIES" is a collection of 96 poems by John Howard Reid, including 21 translations from Spanish masters and a translation from the Greek of Jesus Ben Sirach's grandson. Of the 74 original poems, 30 won prizes and/or were first published under John Howard Reid's "Tom Howard" pseudonym. This includes the title poem. So as not to confuse the issue any further, the whole collection has therefore been issued under the "Tom Howard" signature.
"Escape to Paradise" is one of my favorite poems. I wrote it when I was only 18 years old. I entered the poem in a Contest, and it won a prize. Not a First Prize, but Fourth! So I then wrote another poem, "This Scene", and it too was published, this time in a prestigious British magazine. My poetic career was launched!
There have been years since when I wrote very few poems, but I've always returned to my first love.
Some of my own poetry, such as "A Deserted Whistle Stop in Durango State", "Mexico City" and "A Tide of Roses" have obviously been deeply influenced by my Spanish experience.
But of course there are many poems in this very varied collection that spring entirely from the well of my own being.
LENI OF THE BLUE LIGHT, RIEFENSTAHL OF THE BLACK
Count the seasons, add up the scores of war:
Number the Jekylled faces hiding in France.
Total the German might, perjured on stakes
of madness, disguised as patriotic ideals.
Take a restless respite from the rites of war.
Figure a lonely Leni dancing dreams and light
upon a fixated Fuehrer and link-to-lies Goebbels.
What hints of charm disarm Leni of the lilacs
as quavering voices tingle in the unholy wind,
masked by passions of conquest in this sluice
of autumn breeze, in that final flower of Fall?
Whichever waysome way the figures tumble,
Leni herself is counted an aberrant treasure,
a skein of clay misplaced as silver. Delayed,
the dreamer disappears: her friends dissolve;
enemies rate her talents zero, her ideals dust.
Perhaps in transfers over time, when Riefenstahl is linked
more to holy mountains, sacred flames – white and blue,
and tolls have ransomed token memories and mistakes,
she will rise again in triumph? Perhaps! but I doubt it.