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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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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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A new poem by John Froy

An Egret Moves North

Wren, robin, dunnock, rat
Mandarin ducks in a raft of eight
great-crested grebe, cormorant
Canada and Egyptian geese
on a winter’s afternoon around the lake –
this strangely vacant campus
the traffic now distant, peripheral.
Listen!
Shrill coot’s tewk, moorhen curruc
laughing kwarr of black-headed gulls
perched on the underwater bench
and now a pair of dabbling gadwall
the monogamous shovelers
and squawking
the usurper rose-ringed parakeet.
Then,
true litmus of the change
a little egret, out of the water
showing the world its yellow feet.

~

John Froy is retired and now writes full time. He has published two poetry collections with Two Rivers Press, Eggshell: A Decorator’s Notes (2007) and Sandpaper & Seahorses (2018), and a memoir The Art School Dance (2013).

Poet of the Week – 14: John Froy

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Two poems by Ava Patel

Smokers

When I smoke,

I feel it in my thighs.
When it rains, my fingertips shrivel,
and when I walk along a beach’s shoreline,
my shoulders burn
to turn themselves inside out;
shoulder blades
wriggle ………….through flesh,
ripe for fresh air.

…….My fingers are cold goldfish
nobody won at a summer fair.

They feel heavier …….than a sledgehammer,

………………….almightier

than a deity— ………….and you—
when you smoke,
my appendix knocks against my abdomen,
keen to finish his joke.

A Heat

He thinks I’m a slice of toast.
He brings butter, he brings honey
to the bedroom, looks up at me
through his eyelashes,
the shape of his left iris asking a question.

He wants to coat me, smother me,
does this honey know me?

I swelter in its shroud and stand,
naked and pink, in the middle of the room.

My skin—taut, unyielding—wants
to be stripped away like lurid satsuma peel.

The threads of my hair stick
to the nape of my neck, form rings
around my throat. They smell
overwhelmingly sour, are dark as molasses.

My universe is viscous. It sticks to my teeth
like a piece of toast buttered with tar.

~

Ava Patel studied at the University of Reading and was awarded a first-class MA in Writing from the University of Warwick. She has published poems in webzines (Runcible Spoon, London Grip, Ink, Sweat and Tears) and magazines (South Bank Poetry, Orbis, South, Dream Catcher). Her debut pamphlet Dusk in Bloom has recently been published by Prolebooks and she runs an Instagram poetry page: @ava_poetics.

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Caribbean Stories poetry competition winners: a guest post from Jocelyn Chandler-Hawkins

As Black History Month draws to a close, the lived Caribbean migrant experience has given those from outside of the diaspora an insight into the impacts of coming to the ‘Mother Country’ on the Windrush migrants and their descendants.

To commemorate Windrush Day in June, Through A Different Lens (TADL) ran a poetry competition for participants to share their reflections and experiences. The activity received 20 entries with a first prize winner and 2 runner up prizes awarded by a panel of expert judges. The competition along with 2 film making events and a screening night to be held on the 21st November 2020 were supported by Resource Productions with funding from the Windrush Fund from the Ministry of Housing, communities and local Government.

It’s been a really rewarding experience to support this type of creativity from the Caribbean community. The poems evoked the lives of those who came to UK and the impacts on their children. As a person of Barbadian heritage I want to support further creative works and I look forward to planning future activity and events.

To read the poems and to find out about the November film and poetry evening visit the Through A Different Lens website here.

~

Jocelyn Chandler-Hawkins

Through a Different Lens showcases and supports films and other creative works from the Caribbean & African diaspora.