2021 - Winter

The Collected Songs of Honest Shores

Image: © H.S

Author: H.S

These poems were written nineteen-hundred years ago on the rocks, trees, and Temple walls of Switzerland’s Jura Mountain, then under Roman occupation.

The poet was Honest Shores, a pagan hermit who begged for food at temples, lectured in the streets and often sang and drank with goatherds in the forested mountains.

Little is known about his life, except that he lived in relative poverty, despite having an education. He might have lived for a time as a tutor in a middle-sized Roman city, as he seems to understand societal ills that assailed the Roman Empire, even during its Golden Age (Cf. “Pax Romana”). However, all of this is speculations taken from the poems themselves.

This new translation of his work, despite being incomplete (This collection only including twenty poems, even though some sources suggest he wrote a thousand) significantly revises and updates the poems for a modern audience. Be not shocked if you see references to modern technology and problems, as the translator took some liberties to adapt old roman references for more contemporary counterparts.

Although he was educated, Honest Shores was derided at the time for using colloquial and vulgar forms of Latin in his poems. This suggests that, although he derided morals of his time, he never took himself too seriously. Likewise, the translator used an idiom that is clear, graceful, and neutral enough to last nineteen-hundred years more.


I’m lifting my drink

“The ancient generations

Sowed and Reaped

Until the soil became acidic

Then, they pierced the crust

Extracting the blood

Until the caverns collapsed

Now they send cars into space

Burning metric tons of fuel

The worst is

They lived peacefully

Enjoying the fruits of their labour

But us? We will live to see

The Earth becoming Venus

And with the sky filled with blood and smoke

The ocean licking my mat

And the woods burning

I will receive a message

From my manager that says:

‘Damn that’s crazy… Can you come in though?

We’re short-staffed tonight.’

So here it is

To the UMURANGI Generation!

The generation

That has to watch the world die!”


A lone boar

Amongst the woods of Neuchâtel

His fur, dull enough

Attracts no hunters

But healthy enough

So he attracts mates

Compared to others

His stature is small

But he hides in the bushes so well

Never the fighter

He is rather weak

But his tusks are sharp

So others don’t bother fighting him

Living his whole life

Unremarkable, unnoticed

Only when he dies

One may see the jewel

That was inside him


The marionette

Wanted to be a real boy

Without realizing that

His incarnation

Would not cut his strings

Even if it did

He would not move anymore


Those who pray

Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha

From whence did they come?

Some say “God”

Others say “Dieu”

Others still

Say “Allah”

Those are only words

Vibrations of air

Written names

On blank sheets

Absent of meaning

They’re helpful without being useful

To think them useful

Is to consider

The pointing finger

As the moon


Empty woods, no one in sight

Yet hear! The jingle of bells

From deep… Over there!

Filtered by the trees

The slant rays

Shine once more

And the sheep

Bell on his collar

Looks – inquisitive –

At his grass

That became golden


So young yet

One of my friends is getting married

He asks me

“When will you marry?”

I ask him

“When will you divorce?”

We both laugh for a different reason

Him: Because I am behind

Me: Because he is in front!


My dream house

Has a room

Turned into a library

Hundreds of books on each shelf

An old leather chair

Plants! As numerous as books

The light of the evening

And the wind

Filtered by the evergreen forest

Thus I will travel

Without ever leaving home


I settle for a studio

Lone in the empty city

Like the tailor bird

Were it to have the whole grove

It would settle on a single branch


Alone on its branch

The crow sings

Watching the people

The cold wind:

The only one who caresses him


The hermit drops by

Bringing drunkenness

At the same instant

That the welcomed notifications

Make the dusk for two

An evening for ten!


In the deep forest

An Oak sings

In the wind

But solitary

No one hears his song


Under the willows

Of the lake

A beautiful rock

Perfect for building

A palace

A temple

Or a hut

Forsaken by all

Caressed by the waves

At least it shelters mice


From below

The canopy seems ablaze

The autumn sunset

Makes redheads of us all


Without an effort

The duckling

Let itself go up and down

With the movement of the waves


To each tool its usefulness

The Lamborghini

Cannot park

Where the lil’ Twingo

Simply can


Wanting everything 

Doing everything


By experiencing all things

Zip gets done

A wave when it breaks

Added nothing to the sea


“Learn to code”

“When will you get your license?”

“Put some money on the side”

“Learn a new language”

“Take care of your mental health”

“Take care of your body’s health”

It is hard to make a ball

With dry sand


Reap the day!

Savour the instant!

Carped Diem!

If you only think about reaping

You’ll forget to sow

And end up with a wasteland


If you chase

Money, followers, wisdom

By gesticulating wildly

You’ll exhaust yourself

But see how

The branch most idle

Is the seat of many birds


In your library

You should have:

No Bible

No Qur’an

No Sutras

Rather than this poppycock

You’re much better off with my poems

Feel free to flash them up on your screen

And read them from time to time

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