I found a poem that not only conveyed the sensual longing I was looking for, but also appeared to be written before 1923 (which usually means something is no longer under copyright). But I made so many mistakes, which I am now in the process of correcting.
- Even though the poet wrote most of her poems around the turn of the century, this one was written in 1943, shortly before she died. So thus, still under copyright.
- The poet was not American, meaning other country's copyright laws came into play, as well as America's.
- Not only that, the poet lived in Germany and died in Jerusalem. So questions of what country the copyright covers could be muddy.
- And to make matter worse, there is the question of who holds the copyright to the translation I was using.
It took quite a bit of sleuthing to find someone (a professor in Canada) who even knew who to ask. My publisher is now talking to them, and hopefully we will be able to use it.
Meanwhile, I just spent a big chunk of my morning translating the poem myself. I can do German to English just barely good enough to do this. One problem is that a poet uses unusual words and makes up words - it's all a struggle.
Next time I use a poem, I'll make sure it's at least a hundred years old, if not more.