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Baudelaire’s ‘Chant d’Automne’ translated by Ian Brinton

‘Chant d’Automne’ was written in November 1859 as an address to Marie Daubrun, an actress with whom Baudelaire had hoped to set up home. This dream of a settled life came to nothing as she chose to live with a former lover, the poet Théodore de Banville. This translation is dedicated to Leo Walsh.

Elegy for Autumn

I

Soon shall we be immersed in shadowed cold;
Farewell brief brightness of our short-lived summer!
I listen to the deathly thud of logs
Which echo round the pavements of our yards.

Winter breaks again through my door: anger,
Bitterness, shivering and fear, forced labour;
And like the sun buried in a frozen hell
My heart shall be no more than one iced block of red.

Shaking I listen to every log that falls;
The erection of a scaffold has no more doom-like sound.
My soul is like a tower which crumbles
In response to an unchecked battering-ram.

My cradle is pounded by the never-ceasing blows,
A coffin nailed in haste, but yet for whom?
Yesterday was summer, enter autumn!
And the pealing of the bell announces ‘Gone’!

II

I love the green hue of your oval eyes
My still Muse, but all today is sour
And neither the chamber nor the hearthside of your love
Is worth a glint of sunlight on the sea.

And yet reveal your care my tender love,
Be mother to my erring, graceless ways;
As lover or as sister, shed a fleeting sweetness
Of autumn colour or a sun that sinks to rest.

Brief request – the jaws of death are open!
Let me place my forehead on your lap
To taste what was the burning white of summer
In the yellow rays and sweetness of the Fall.

~

See also:

Crowds – a new translation of a Baudelaire prose poem from 1861

The Cracked Bell – a new translation by Ian Brinton

Le Serpent Qui Danse – a translation by Ian Brinton

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Ian Brinton’s imaginative and haunting new translations of the 18 poems in the ‘Tableaux Parisiens’ section of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal are published in Charles Baudelaire Paris Scenes (July 2021).

More information here

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Crowds – a new translation of a Baudelaire prose poem from 1861

Ahead of the publication of his book later this year, Ian Brinton provides us with a further little excursion into the city streets of Baudelaire’s Paris with translation of one of his prose poems from 1861. It was published in a volume titled Petit Poèmes en Prose, subtitled ‘Le Spleen de Paris’. The translation is dedicated to Will Law.

Crowds

It is not the gift of everybody to be able to immerse himself in a crowd; to mingle in the throng is an art and the only person who can join the lively carousel, at the expense of others, is he who has been inspired from the cradle with a taste for the disguises of the masque, a disdain for home and a passion for travel.
The words ‘crowd’ and ‘isolation’ are threaded together for the living poet. Whoever cannot fill his solitude with people is unable to be alone within the mass.
In choosing to be both himself and others the poet bathes in unique waters. Like those wandering spirits in search of a corporeal home, he takes up residence whenever he wishes within the being of another. For him alone, all doors are open and if some surfaces appear opaque it is, from his point of view, on account of their not being worth a visit.
The solitary and reflective pedestrian finds this mingling with the commons particularly exhilarating. He who can with ease wed himself to the crowd is aware of an ecstasy that is denied forever to the egoist enclosed within his cabinet or the idler trapped within his mollusc’s shell. He can dip into all professions as if they were his own and experience all the joys and sorrows presented to him by circumstances.
What the ordinary man refers to as love is a very small affair, shackled and weak, when one puts it beside the unquenchable riot, the saintly prostitution of the soul which offers itself as a poetic gift to the unforeseen as it is revealed and to the stranger who passes in the street.
In order to puncture their self-satisfaction for a moment it is sometimes rather good to offer a lesson to the contented of the world and to suggest that there are more refined and more expansive pleasures which are somewhat greater than their own. The founders of colonies, the religious leaders of the people and the missionaries stationed in the furthest corners of the globe doubtless know something of this magic intoxication; in the new world of their imagination they must feel prompted occasionally to smile at the thought of those who feel pity for their open-ended destiny and for the purity of their commitment.

~

See also:

Le Serpent Qui Danse – a translation by Ian Brinton

The Cracked Bell – a new translation by Ian Brinton

Baudelaire’s ‘Chant d’Automne’ translated by Ian Brinton

~

Ian Brinton’s imaginative and haunting new translations of the 18 poems in the ‘Tableaux Parisiens’ section of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal are published in Charles Baudelaire Paris Scenes (July 2021).

More information here

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Udi Levy’s translations of René Noyau’s poem Fierté into German and Hebrew

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.

Fierté (1939)

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 !

Stolz

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!

Fierte translation into Hebrew by Udi Levy 2021

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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.

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The Cracked Bell – a new translation by Ian Brinton

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.

~

See also:

Baudelaire’s ‘Chant d’Automne’ translated by Ian Brinton

Le Serpent Qui Danse – a translation by Ian Brinton

Crowds – a new translation of a Baudelaire prose poem from 1861

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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.

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Red Kites – a new poem from David Cooke

RED KITES

Plague birds, exquisite and focused,
who scavenged Shakespeare’s unspeakable
streets, they have drifted back
from the borderlands of extinction
on tense, splayed wings.

Circling soundlessly
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 Windowwhich he founded in 2015.