Udi Levy came across René Noyau’s poem Fierté as the result of the friendship with his granddaughter. He was moved by it and translated it into German and Hebrew. Udi is an accomplished translator of poetry and prose (Hebrew-German). His translations of the Israeli poet Agi Mishol to German will be published soon.
Here is Fierté in its original French, followed by Udi Levy’s translations.
Mes mains avaient appris a t’ àppeler parmi les foules.
Je t’avais reconnue au signe simple de la joie
Et nous sommes restés longtemps à regarder
Les hommes qui passaient au son tumultueux des cuivres de l’amour.
Puis tu m’as demandé d’oublier comme on demande à boire…
Je t’ai tendu ma grande coupe débordante de silence.
Et depuis, entre nous, il existe un regard
Don’t la lumière est déchirante comme un cri !
Meine Hände lernten dich aus der Menge zu rufen
Ich erkannte dich am einfachen Zeichen der Freude
Und wir verweilten lange blickend
Die Menschen, die das Schillern der Liebe durchqueren.
Dann batest du mich zu vergessen, wie man zu trinken bittet…
Und ich reichte den grossen überlaufenden Kelch der Stille.
Und seither besteht unter uns ein blicken
Im Licht, zerreissend wie ein Schrei!
Fierté appears in Earth on fire and other poems, which presents a selection of René Noyau’s poems in their original French and in English translation.
This is a new translation of Baudelaire’s ‘Spleen’ poem, ‘La Cloche Fêlée’ which was published in 1851. It is a bleak poem which presents the reader with the poet’s sense of loss and his isolation within a confined urban landscape.
The Cracked Bell
To Hayley McLintock
Throughout the smoky winter nights,
Crouched by a fire which flickers,
It is bitter-sweet to listen to memories of long ago
Return rising slowly in a peal of bells through fog.
An iron-throated bell,
Awake and loud despite its age,
Booms a pious call upon the hour
Like a veteran on guard at the tent’s mouth!
But as for me my soul is cracked and in striving
To fill the cold night air with song
My weary feeble voice
Is a thick gasp of sound from the wounded and forgotten
Trapped below the dead on the bank of a bloody lake,
Dying pent in vain strife to stir.
Some of Ian Brinton’s translations of Baudelaire have been published in the Leafe Press magazine Litter and his version of the Tableaux Parisiens will appear from Two Rivers Press in July under the title Paris Scenes. His translations of poems by Paul Valéry were published by Muscaliet Press early this year and a selection of poems by Philippe Jaccottet is due to appear from Equipage in May.
Plague birds, exquisite and focused,
who scavenged Shakespeare’s unspeakable
streets, they have drifted back
from the borderlands of extinction
on tense, splayed wings.
in the rinsed clarity of spring light
they have staked their claim
to limitless acres above
the Chilterns’ wooded heights.
And was it months, or even a year,
my own dreams of flying
took possession of sleep,
making something of nothing
in gaps between the days?
– My free falls and soaring
seeming purposeless, inspired,
until, ceasing, they left me earthbound,
trying to keep my eyes
on this twisting road.
David Cooke was born in 1953 in Wokingham and grew up in Reading, although his family comes from the West of Ireland. He has been writing poems, somewhat sporadically, since his teens. In 1977, while he was still an undergraduate at Nottingham University, he won a Gregory Award, and since then his poems have been published widely in the UK, Ireland and beyond. He has also managed, in spite of long periods of poetic silence, to publish seven collections of his work. His first Two Rivers collection was A Murmuration (2015) and he is delighted that later this year Two Rivers Press will also be publishing Sicilian Elephants, from which ‘Red Kites’ has been taken. He is the editor of the online literary journal, The High Window, which he founded in 2015.
Your Sisterʼs Tapestry Cushion
i.m of my grandmother, ʽCullerʼ and her sister, Den, daughters of a painter-mother.
In this view
weft-faced yews (Ucello darks)
strew the escarpmentʼs
grey-green, mint, plaster, white.
Her mind was stitched
into yours, yours into mine
(those colours spoke like a mother tongue).
From a distance, itʼs leaping wildness,
the in/out of things
sewn up. Shadow and lightness.
Weʼd sit on your sofa in drifts
of Silk Cut smoke, Ma Griffe.
Tonal shifts made patterns
to lean on, with the thick curtains
drawn on blue cedars.
Kate Behrens’ most recent collection is Penumbra, published by Two Rivers Press in January 2019. It follows on from her first collection, The Beholder (2012), and Man with Bombe Alaska (2016). Other poems have appeared in Mslexia, Blackbox Manifold, Stand, The High Window, Reading Universityʼs Creative Arts Anthologies, Poetry Salzburg Review, Wild Court, Noon, The Arts of Peace (Two Rivers Press) and as Oxford Brookesʼ Poem of the Week.
Read more about Kate’s poetry here.
MINT TEA IS NO CURE
The art trail enlivens proceedings by inviting
poets to read in artists’ garden, where bees
work for pollen on lavender and valerian.
I choose a few poems that may chime
with the work of potters, painters,
printmakers and jewellers, but
this year I’ve not shaken off winter’s grip
and my chest is a squeezebox with loosed ties,
tumbling to the floor from careless hands.
Discordant and groaning I’ve wheezed my way
through weeks of heat, so find some quiet shade
away from the studio and watch bees
working for pollen on lavender and valerian,
but it’s hopeless, I can barely give breath
to one whole line let alone the next.
A friend offers to read every alternate stanza
for me to catch my breath, or try,
and we manage like this, but every muscle
of my ribs pulls. My lungs are more folded back
than when I began, and the fresh-picked
mint tea offered by the host is no cure –
I can barely stop straining long enough to drink it
as bees work for pollen on lavender and valerian.
Kate Noakes’ Two Rivers Press collection from 2009 is The Wall-Menders. Her most recent is The Filthy Quiet (Parthian, 2019). She lives in London, where she acts as a trustee to writer development organisation, Spread the Word.