by Cees Noteboom)
Ancient poet, touched by the Muses themselves,
so you claimed at least,
with a branch of laurel,
or was that just boasting?
I stare at the fifteenth of your
fragments of unknown position:
"with the pitiless smoke of pitch
an uprooted line without a poem.
Kapnos, smoke, fumes, steam,
nèleès (poet.), without pity, merciless.
I sit with your written orphan on the table
while my neighbour burns off
brambles. I see the smoke
over the dry field, pitch black and menacing,
and smell that cedar,
a smell that's three thousand years old.
Was it a fire or a sacrifice,
or were you just watching your neighbour?
Hesiod, marble poet,
when will you finally
• From Light Everywhere, translated by David Colmer. To order a copy with free UK p&p go to guardianbookshop.co.uk or call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846.