Ten, Jonas

Seymour Mayne

Translation text: "Diez, Jonás "

Artwork by Sharon Katz



Of the first fright: one,

of shadows breaking away

            from words: two,

of wings fluttering in the night:


of books standing like angels on guard:



But of the knife, five and six,

and the bully with the revolver,

            seven, eight and nine,

and of the trigger-happy finger--


ready to do their part

            in staving off the plagues.





How does one die?

Does it burst out like a flood

rising for a lifetime

to its level of escape?


Or does it coil

around in the cave of a dream,

shutting off the vista of light

with a sudden jerk


and the silence holds

louder than God?


Seymour Mayne

Seymour Mayne, professor of Canadian Literature, Canadian Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Ottawa, is the author, editor or translator of more than sixty books and monographs. His writings have been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish. His latest collections include Ricochet: Word Sonnets/Sonnets d'un mot (2011), a bilingual French edition of his word sonnets, and On the Cusp: Word Sonnets/Albores: Sonetos de una palabra/ À l’orée: Sonnets d’un mot (2013), a trilingual volume. A fervent innovator of the word sonnet, he has given readings and lectured widely in Canada and abroad on this unique new ‘miniature’ form. These two poems were originally published in September Rain (2005) and are reprinted with the permission of the author.