Translations by Harry Guest.
1. “the duel now more one-sided than before”
__________—to Claude Vigée, for song drawn from the deepest well in spite of everything
I hear that cry of deep distress from one
who’s lost his way led far from family,
far from the plinths of tenderness, those bonds
forged from long years with those one’s learned to love.
Forsaking stays within, life’s power flees,
escapes stabs of awareness – torn
up by the roots (no question there) ̶ and then
there’s all that muffled intertwining since
the sap, the fibres rise up to the fore
through agony, disintegrating soon.
I’ve such respect for one who can
in panic still take on, despite
all else, what’s always seemed to be
an angel-conflict all the crueller since
the duel’s now more one-sided than before.
Life really is “a bloody-awful mess” ̶
______________that’s what he said.
2. “arresting sleights of hand”
Sun waking on the snow
foreshadows vanishing the way it prints
forgotten shapes in leisure on the land.
Such changes are alive, go radiant,
can’t hinder, given time’s transcendence,
erosions or those sudden rifts in earth.
That smooth stream’s rising slightly: rivers
can also try arresting sleights of hand.
Each tree now, mimicking an island
traces its silhouette on water.
The world, called suddenly to wakefulness,
mirrors its own awareness as all four
elements resume their primal collusion
inside a universe preferring to
reflect itself rather than disappear.
3. “infinity, conceivable florescence”
Plenitude, integrity, some inner stirring –
the soul, once one gives in to self from self,
achieves its own new music, depicting
slow flow of river between fields and woods
about to flourish green once more.
worth both itself and its suspension –
its own infinity, conceivable florescence.
Such is time’s blossoming in time,
and keeping time, each moment just
about to be – lips closed which part
and let so slowly arias unfold.
Those harmonies depend
on strife and reconciliation,
on agony, on joy,
on every quiver in the soul
plus change of self when scooping out
its own appropriate centre for itself.
Desire arises not from lack
or absence but that sudden call
from what’s becoming to accomplishment.
Anne Mounic is a lecturer at Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, a co-editor of Temporal, a poet, a critic and a translator of Robert Graves, Stevie Smith and Vincent O’Sullivan among others. She is also the author of Counting the beats: Robert Graves’ poetry of unrest, ‘an existential view of Graves’ poetic, historical, and critical work’. A painter and engraver, she exhibits regularly both individually and with her husband, Guy Braun. Their website is here.
Harry Guest’s latest publication (from Impress) is A Square in East Berlin, a translation of Torsten Schulz’s acclaimed novel Boxhagener Platz (which has been successfully filmed). He reviewed ‘Anthony Rudolf’s literary Wunderkammer’, silent conversations, for the Fortnightly here and his translation of Gautier’s preface to ‘Émaux et camées’ is here.