Poetry: Michael R. Burch

Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch’s poems, translations, essays, articles and letters have appeared in TIME, USA Today, BBC Radio 3, Amnesty International’s Words That Burn, Writer’s Digest–The Year’s Best Writing and hundreds of literary journals. His poems have been translated into eleven languages and set to music by the composers Mark Buller, Alexander Comitas and Seth Wright. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com and serves as the international poetry editor for Better Than Starbucks.

Laughter’s Cry

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.

Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.

The Greatest of These ...

The hands that held me tremble.
The arms that lifted
Angelic flesh, now parchment,
is held together with gauze.

But her eyes, undimmed, still embrace me;
there infinity can be found.
I can almost believe such unfathomable love
will reach me, underground.

In my opinion, this is the most beautiful of Chaucer's lyric poems ... but how many readers have read it? I hope my translation can help correct that horrific crime.

Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
    for your eyes slay me suddenly;
    their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death, my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
    your eyes slay me suddenly;
   their beauty I cannot sustain,
   they wound me so, through my heart keen.

I Loved You
by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I loved you ... perhaps I love you still ...
perhaps for a while such emotions may remain.
But please don’t let my feelings trouble you;
I do not wish to cause you further pain.

I loved you ... thus the hopelessness I knew ...
The jealousy, the diffidence, the pain
resulted in two hearts so wholly true
the gods might grant us leave to love again.


to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
                             the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
                       in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the

Roses for a Lover, Idealized

When you have become to me
as roses bloom, in memory,
exquisite, each sharp thorn forgot,
will I recall—yours made me bleed?

When winter makes me think of you—
whorls petrified in frozen dew,
bright promises blithe spring forsook,
will I recall your words—barbed, cruel?


  1. It is always an honor to be published by SETU!

  2. Beautiful, beautiful poems and translations! Loved reading them!

    1. I'm glad you think so, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।