One poem for each day of the year, based on days of birth and death

6 October – Johan Herman Wessel

Johan Herman Wessel – poet


He ate and drank, was never glad,
His boot heels he wore down one side;
Ambition – that he never had,
And finally just upped and died.

Johan Herman Wessel
(6 October 1742 – 29 December 1785)
Norwegian Danish poet



5 October – J. Slauerhoff

J. Slauerhoff – poet


Alleen in mijn gedichten kan ik wonen,
Nooit vond ik ergens anders onderdak
Voor de eigenhaard gevoelde ik nooit /
een zwak,
Een tent werd door de stormwind meegenomen.

Alleen in mijn gedichten kan ik wonen.
Zolang ik weet dat ik in wildernis,
In steppen stad en woud dat onderkomen
Kan vinden, deert mij geen bekommernis.

Het zal lang duren, maar de tijd zal komen
Dat vóór de nacht mij de oude kracht /
En tevergeefs om zachte woorden smeekt,

Waarmee ‘k weleer kon bouwen, en de aarde
Mij bergen moet en ik mij neerbuig naar de
Plek waar mijn graf in ‘t donker openbreekt.


Only in my poems can I live,
Never did I find other shelter,
Never did I have a weakness for one’s /
own hearth,
A tent would be blown away by stormwinds.

Only in my poems can I live.
As long as I know that in wilderness,
In the city of steppe and forest, I can still find
That shelter, no hardship shall discourage me.

It will take a long while, but the time will come
That before the night I no longer have the /
old energy
And in vain plead for gentle words,

With which I could build perhaps, and the earth
Must put me away and I bow down to the place
Where my grave breaks open in the darkness.

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff
(15 September 1898 – 5 October 1936)
Dutch poet and novelist


4 October – Anne Sexton


The end of the affair is always death.
She’s my workshop. Slippery eye,
out of the tribe of myself my breath
finds you gone. I horrify
those who stand by. I am fed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Finger to finger, now she’s mine.
She’s not too far. She’s my encounter.
I beat her like a bell. I recline
in the bower where you used to mount her.
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Take for instance this night, my love,
that every single couple puts together
with a joint overturning, beneath, above,
the abundant two on sponge and feather,
kneeling and pushing, head to head.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
I break out of my body this way,
an annoying miracle. Could I
put the dream market on display?
I am spread out. I crucify.
My little plum is what you said.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach,
a piano at her fingertips, shame
on her lips and a flute’s speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
She took you the way a women takes
a bargain dress off the rack
and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.
Today’s paper says that you are wed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.
They take off shoes. They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other. They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Anne Sexton
(9 November 1928 – 4 October 1974)
American poet
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1967


3 October – Sergei Yesenin

Sergei Yesenin – poet


Goodbye, my friend, goodbye
My love, you are in my heart.
It was preordained we should part
And be reunited by and by.
Goodbye: no handshake to endure.
Let’s have no sadness — furrowed brow.
There’s nothing new in dying now
Though living is no newer.

Original in Russian:

До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья.
Милый мой, ты у меня в груди.
Предназначенное расставанье
Обещает встречу впереди.
До свиданья, друг мой, без руки, без слова,
Не грусти и не печаль бровей,-
В этой жизни умирать не ново,
Но и жить, конечно, не новей.

Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin
(3 October 1895 – 28 December 1925)
Russian lyrical poet

From All Poetry

2 October – Wallace Stevens


Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill;

And that in autumn, when the grapes
Made sharp air sharper by their smell
These had a being, breathing frost;

And least will guess that with our bones
We left much more, left what still is
The look of things, left what we felt

At what we saw. The spring clouds blow
Above the shuttered mansion house,
Beyond our gate and the windy sky

Cries out a literate despair.
We knew for long the mansion’s look
And what we said of it became

A part of what it is … Children,
Still weaving budded aureoles,
Will speak our speech and never know,

Will say of the mansion that it seems
As if he that lived there left behind
A spirit storming in blank walls,

A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,
Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.

Wallace Stevens
(2 October 1879 – 2 August 1955)
American Modernist poet
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1955


1 October – Charles Cros

Charles Cros – poet


Le bleu matin
Fait pâlir les étoiles.
Dans l’air lointain
La brume a mis ses voiles.
C’est l’heure où vont,
Au bruit clair des cascades,
Danser en rond,
Sur le pré, les Dryades.

Matin moqueur,
Au dehors tout est rose.
Mais dans mon cœur
Règne l’ennui morose.
Car j’ai parfois
A son bras, à cette heure,
Couru ce bois.
Seule à présent j’y pleure.

Le jour paraît,
La brume est déchirée,
Et la forêt
Se voit pourpre et dorée.
Mais, pour railler
La peine qui m’oppresse,
J’entends piailler
Les oiseaux en liesse.

Émile-Hortensius-Charles Cros
(1 October 1842 – 9 August 1888)
French poet and inventor


30 September – Waldo Williams


Wall of my boyhood, Moel Drigarn, Carn Gyfrwy, Tal Mynydd,
In my mind’s independence ever at my back;
And my floor, from Witwig to Wern and to the smithy
Where from an essence older than iron, the sparks were struck.

And on the farmyards, on the hearths of my people
Wedded to wind and rain and mist and heathery livrocky land,
They wrestle with the earth and the sky, and they beat them,
And they toss the sun to their children as still they bend.

For me a memory and a symbol – that slope with reaping party
With their neighbours’ oats falling four-swathed to their blades.
The act they took for fun at a run, and straightening their bodies,
Flung one four-voiced giant laugh to the sun.

So my Wales shall be brotherhood’s womb, her destiny she will dare it.
The sick world’s balm shall be brotherhood alone.
It is the pearl pledged by time to eternity
To be the pilgrim’s hope in this little crooked lane.

And this was my window – these harvestings and sheep shearings.
I glimpsed the order of a kingly court.
Hark! A roar and ravage through a windowless forest.
To the wall! We must keep our well clear of this beast’s dirt.

Waldo (Goronwy) Williams
(30 September 1904 – 20 May 1971)
One of the leading Welsh language poets of the twentieth century
Notable pacifist, anti-war campaigner and Welsh nationalist

From Cymdeithas Waldo Williams

Waldo Williams’s own translation.