Stairlifts move slowly and this project aims to relieve the tedium of stair travelling by providing poems in translation for going up, and going down, to be printed out and attached to one of the arms on any stairlift...

Going Up...

Life assassinated, by Tanella Boni

   Young man of the seas and sands

lost in the clouds of life

walking wide-eyed despite the sun

in the eternal shade

this choice has lost all trace of your steps

stolen the key of time

   the lines of your left hand 


with the blood of fear

the brevity of your life

   And the signs of the rupture to come

march along the line of your lips

your bursts of laughter light up friendship

the shadow of your soul

stains the clarity of the light

balances the resistance of the sky

a strong-box in the corner of your heart

opens its doors to a treasury of 

words of gladness

and the day ekes out your sayings

like your ancestor in the shade of a fig-tree

to the passer-by wandering, lost, among the byways of the town

From L'avenir a rendez-vous avec l'aube, transl. by sarah tolley

Versi da Molare by Gianni Priano

Baiva due vote is divan i vegg

tra lur. Ienna per i danc morz

l'otra per ir paradis. Du vote.

Ra primma per zerchè ant ra tera

ra sc-piegaziòn der zè, ra sgonda

per capì ant ir zè che manc ra tera

a i è.

Keeping the language of Liguria alive...


     by  Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Loneliness like a good, old friend
visits my house to pour wine in the evening.
And we sit together, waiting for the moon, 
and for your face to sparkle in every shadow. 

The Soul's Expression

     by  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

With stammering lips and insufficient sound
I strive and struggle to deliver right
That music of my nature, day and night
With dream and thought and feeling interwound
And only answering all the senses round
With octaves of a mystic depth and height
Which step out grandly to the infinite
From the dark edges of the sensual ground.
This song of soul I struggle to outbear
Through portals of the sense, sublime and whole,
And utter all myself into the air:
But if I did it,—as the thunder-roll
Breaks its own cloud, my flesh would perish there,
Before that dread apocalypse of soul.


Sonnets from the Portuguese 


by  Joan Salvat-Papasseit-Toti Soler (1894-1924)

Călăreţ pe armăsar

Cu coama în flăcări

Eu sunt focul incendiar al viselor de adolescent

În plin zbor blestem zeii:

Bestiile înfricoşate

Tremură sub biciul cântecului meu!

Deşi m-am însurat cu Luna…

Noi nu dormim împreună când barbarii cârmuiesc ţara.

Translated into Romanian by Constantin Roman


Distances  by Philippe Jaccottet

Swifts turn in the heights of the air;
higher still turn the invisible stars.
When day withdraws to the ends of the earth
their fires shine on a dark expanse of sand.
We live in a world of motion and distance,
The heart flies from tree to bird,
from bird to distant star,
from star to love; and love grows
in the quiet house, turning and working,
servant of thought, a lamp held in one hand

, transl. by Derek Mahon

This FRAGMENT is taken from a collection of Burn's poems published in 1822, which contains translations from Latin, Persian, Indian and Chinese poems. Laverocks are also known as larks.


This is love, by  Rumi

this is love, to fly to heaven, every moment to rend  a hundred veils; at first instance, to break away from breath - first step, to renounce feet, to disregard this world, to see only that which you yourself have seen.

I said 'heart, congratulations on entereing the circle of lovers, on gazing beyond the range of the eye,  on running into the valley of the breasts."

Whence came this breath, o heart? Whence came this throbbing, o heart? Bird, speak the tongue of birds, I can heed your cipher!

The heart said 'I was in the factory whilst the home of water and clay was abaking, I was flying from the workshop whilst the workshop was being created, When I could no more resist they dragged me, how shall I tell the manner of that dragging?

  Translated by A.J. Arberry


Poem, by Anna Akhmatova

Der einer geht den graden Weg,      
Im Kreise geht ein andrer      
Und will ins Elternhaus zurück,      
Zur Freundin die er kannte.    
Doch ich, ich geh - nach mir die Not     
Nicht grade,  nicht im Kreise,    
Ins Nirgendwann, ins Nirgendwo,    
Wie'n Schnellzug von der Weiche.               

Translated by Eric Boerner



by H. W. Longfellow  

O'er all the hill-tops
Is quiet now,
In all the tree-tops
Hearest thou
Hardly a breath;
The birds are asleep in the trees:
Wait; soon like these
Thou too shalt rest.

    A poem by Michaelangelo

  • Ravished by all that to the eyes is fair,

  • Yet hungry for the joys that truly bless,

  • My soul can find no stair

  • To mount to heaven, save earth's 

  •      loveliness.

  • For from the stars above

  • Descends a glorious light

  • That lifts our longing to their highest 

  •       height

  • And bears the name of love

          Nor is there aught can move
  • A gentle heart, or purge or make it wise

          But beauty and the starlight of her eyes.

            Translated by George Santayana

Going Down... 

Zaccheus, by Francis Quarles

Methinks I see with what a busy haste

Zaccheus climbed the tree. But, O how fast

How full of speed, canst thou imagine (when

Our Saviour called) he powdered down again!

He ne’er made trial if the boughs were sound,

Or rotten; nor how far 'twas to the ground.

There was no danger feared. At such a call

He’ll venture nothing, that dare fear a fall.

Needs must he down, by such a spirit driven;

Nor could he fall, unless he fell to Heaven.

Down came Zaccheus, ravished from the tree;

Bird that was shot, ne’er dropped so quick as he. 

Pilote de guerre by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Der einzige Sieg, an den ich glaube, ruht in der Kraft des Samenkorns. 

Senke das Samenkorn in die Erdein die weite schwarze Erde, und der Sieg ist dein - mag es auch langer Zeit bedürfen, 

bis wir den Weizenhalm triumphieren sehen.

From Chapter XXVI, translated by Fritz Montfort

          The Underground. 

                    by  Seamas Heaney

There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,                                            You in your going-away coat speeding ahead                                     And me, me then like a fleet god, gaining                                          Upon you before you turned to a reed, 

Or some new white flower japped with crimson                                       As the coat flapped wild and button after button                                 Sprang off and fell in a trail                                                                    Between the Underground and the Albert Hall. 

Honeymooning, mooning around, late for the Proms,                            Our echoes die in that corridor and now                                                     I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones,                                 Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons 

To end up in a draughty lamp-lit station                                               After the trains have gone, the wet track                                                     Bared and tense as I am, all attention                                                          For your step following and damned if I look back.

                           From Station Island  (Faber, 1984)

Hymn to St Cecilia by  W.H. Auden, set to music 

by Bemjamin Britten


Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions

To all musicians, appear and inspire:

Translated Daughter, come down and startle

Composing mortals with immortal fire.

Not a translation but a gently humorous evocation

Orphée, by Paul Valéry

... Je compose en esprit, sous les myrtes, Orphée
L’Admirable !... le feu, des cirques purs descend ;
Il change le mont chauve en auguste trophée
D’où s’exhale d’un dieu l’acte retentissant.

Si le dieu chante, il rompt le site tout-puissant ;
Le soleil voit l’horreur du mouvement des pierres ;
Une plainte inouïe appelle éblouissants
Les hauts murs d’or harmonieux d’un sanctuaire.

Il chante, assis au bord du ciel splendide, Orphée !
Le roc marche, et trébuche ; et chaque pierre fée
Se sent un poids nouveau qui vers l’azur délire !

D’un Temple à demi nu le soir baigne l’essor,
Et soi-même il s’assemble et s’ordonne dans l’or
À l’âme immense du grand hymne sur la lyre !

   Good-bye at Yellow Crane Tower by  Li Bai

   You have left me behind, old friend,
                                   at the Yellow CraneTower,
   On your way to visit Yangchou
                                    in the misty month  of flowers
   Your sail, a single shadow, 
                                    becomes one with the blue sky
   Till now I see only the river, on its way to heaven
   Translation by Witter Bynner
New Tyres Fittit, by  Helmut Haberkamm

I'm oot front on the step aside the buit-scratter.
Ma faither's pittin on the winter tyres.
Far a'm fae, a dinna wint t'ging richt noo.
Far a micht seek t'ging, a dinna wint t'ging aither.
Glein him a haun t'fit the tyres wid be
The thing t'dee. Hoowivver, I jist bide
Humphin here an zip ma moo.
An watching: nae kennin fit a wint.
Aye, look, at's the tyres on araedy:
Ma faither gies us a wave, and I heid aff.

Scots by Alexander Hutchison

(published on the Nomansland website).

When you are old, by  W.B. Yeats, after Ronsard

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


  To the tune of 'Like a Dream' by Li Qingzhao     

 I will always recall that day at dusk,
         the pavilion by the creek,
 and I was so drunk I couldn't tell
         the way home. My mood left me,
 it was late when I turned back in my boat
          and I strayed deep among lotuses —
 how to get through?
 how to get through?
 and I startled to flight a whole shoal
          of egrets and gulls.


  Translated by Stephen Owen,

  Anthology of Chinese Literature


  A poem by Abu Nuwas

 Libre et gaillard, dressé de bon matin,
 J’ai grand-soif de débauche et de bon vin,
 D’un vénérable cru, ardent comme la braise,
 À l’haleine de musc s’exhalant à son aise
 Dans sa robe précieuse, où l’or danse et s’immerge.
 Le soir tombait. Avisant une auberge,
 À peine y descendîmes-nous à petits pas,
 Qu’une aube resplendit, où l’aube n’était pas :
 Quelle vierge exhibée, à saveur longue et âpre,
 Faveur pour les marchands, langueur des opiniâtres !

Translated by Patrick Mégarbané 


      Frog Haiku by Matsuo BashO

Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water —
A deep resonance.

Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa