February 22, 2024 5:49 am

WHEN IN FRENCH POETRY SPEAKS

THE LANDSCAPE – By Robert Desnos

I had dreamt of loving. I go on loving but love is no longer that bouquet of lilacs and roses, charging the forest with their fragrance where a flame rests at the end of branchless pathways. I had dreamt of loving. I go on loving but love is no longer that storm whose lightning imposes. Its funeral pyres on castles, disturbs, distorts, lights in departing the parting of the ways. It’s the flint sparking under my feet at night, the word no dictionary in the world’s translated, the foam in the sea, that cloud there in the sky. In ageing all becomes rigid and luminous avenues without names ropes without knots. I feel myself grow inflexible with the landscape.

1TO HIMSELF – Pierre-Jean Jouve

Write now for the sky, write for the arc of the sky and may no black lead letter, veil your literature. Write for the scent and the breeze, write for the silvery leaves may no human ugliness find sight consciousness breath. Write for the god and the fire, write for love of place, desire that nothing of Man’s contained, in the void chilled by a flame.

BURN THE MIDNIGHT OIL – By Abdellatif Laâbi

You must stay up all night at least four times a year. There aren’t enough crazy people around me to go further than that. A single sleepless night isn’t worth much when you’re on your own. It needs to be shared. Only then does the city open up to you without thoughts of death. Gargoyles carry out their work as exorcists. Muezzins get drunk on street corners. There is always a couple who get married at dawn by drawing lots. The Partisans’ Chant becomes a drinking song. Satan starts to wax lyrical and hands out unbaited, red apples to the worshippers. Feet trample on a treasure-hoard of stars. The taste of sex rises in the mouth like lemon on oysters. Only vagabonds can be poets.

https://www.amazon.com/Penguin-Book-French-Poetry-Translations/dp/0140423850

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