Earth on fire and other poems: A bilingual edition


  • The first translation into English of the poems of Francophone Mauritian writer René Noyau (1911–1984)
  • The poems are presented in their original French as well as in English translation
  • Includes introductory material in both French and English

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‘There are many reasons to be fascinated by René Noyau… He cannot be pigeonholed in any particular style or subject matter, moves from the earthy to the ethereal, often in the same poem. A devotee of the surreal image, exotic and startling, he is also capable of a raw clarity that hammers home his meaning. Like many true artists, René was not the best custodian or promoter of his work and his native land was not entirely ready for his force or originality. The current volume is an effort to reach an audience he might never have imagined, to be a recognition and a discovery for years to come, crossing age and cultural barriers.’ — PETER PEGNALL

‘It’s a revelation to read this selection of René Noyau’s passionate poems, an extraordinary window onto the life of a vivid intelligence in 20th-century Mauritian literature. The translations by Gérard Noyau with Peter Pegnall reveal a fascinating poetic development: from the strongly-felt early lyrics to the fierce inventive energy of the later surreal and political work—including the powerful ‘Sega of Freedom’—this is work that feels admirably unafraid in all its intimacy and commitment’ — JANE DRAYCOTT

‘To see Earth on fire in print will be a very special moment. Thanks to Gérard Noyau and to the Two Rivers Press, a wide Anglophone and Francophone readership will now have the possibility of discovering the vibrant, moving and challenging verses of a poet who had remained virtually unknown in Europe and beyond for so many decades. I well remember my feelings when first introduced to René’s poetry – the astonishment, excitement and sheer gratitude of one who unexpectedly discovers a precious treasure.’ — ALAN HOWE

‘… cette vaste et difficile entreprise de traduction poétique… est tout à fait convaincant’ — DOMINIQUE BELLIER, Le Mauricien, 23 Mar 2021

Of the poem Terre en feu: ‘Mais on peut dire aussi que ce poème apparaît comme particulièrement emblématique de la personnalité de René Noyau, et de son écriture ciselée, entière, passionnée, imagée, surréelle et lyrique à la fois’ — DOMINIQUE BELLIER, Le Mauricien

‘a compelling gateway into Noyau’s work and Mauritian literature’ — PREEA LEELAH, in Reading in Translation

Joseph René Noyau (1911–84) was a Creolophone and Francophone  Mauritian writer and poet who wrote under a number of pseudonyms including Jean Erenne which he used for the poems in this collection. Noyau lived and wrote at a crucial time in the history of the island of Mauritius. He was a passionately committed man of letters and a pioneer of personal and literary freedom in the march to an independent Mauritius. This book presents a selection of Noyau’s poems in their original French and in English translation.

Joseph René Noyau (1911-84), écrivain et poète mauricien, créolophone et francophone, utilisait un bon nombre de pseudonymes. Les poèmes de ce recueil sont signés Jean Erenne. Il vivait et écrivait à une époque critique de l’histoire de l’île Maurice. Homme de lettres engagé, il était passionnément dévoué à la liberté d’expression tant sur le plan personnel que littéraire, dans la marche vers une île Maurice indépendante. Ce livre contient une sélection bilingue de poèmes de Noyau dans leur langue d’origine, le français, et leur traduction en anglais.


Gérard Noyau, third child of René Noyau, only came to his father’s writings in 2010. This led to the publication in Mauritius of 4 volumes entitled René Noyau L’Oeuvre in 2012 and 2013. A chance meeting with Peter Pegnall, poet, about four years ago led him to start translating his father’s poetry.

Ce n’est qu’en 2010 que Gérard Noyau, troisième enfant de René Noyau, prit conscience de la valeur des écrits de son père. Le résultat fut une édition, à l’île Maurice, de quatre volumes intitulés René Noyau : L’Œuvre, en 2012 et 2013. Une rencontre fortuite avec le poète Peter Pegnall il y a environ 4 ans le mena à traduire les poèmes de son père.

Translated by Gérard Noyau, with Peter Pegnall. Paperback, 210 x 135 mm, 108 pages, March 2021.


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