The post below is a coming together of my own thoughts and an attempt at a translation of Laforgue's Pierrots. Laforgue wrote these Pierrot poems as part of a longer work entitled L'immitation de notre dame la lune, which literally means The immitation of our Lady the Moon.
Translation is always a dicy business. I realise that the first question is: how does the poet translator circumnavigate the problem that all poems are almost by their nature untranslatable? Has the poet/translator come up with a new poem> If so, how much is this a translation and how much a new poem masquerading as a translation?
Monday, March 25, 2013
As dusk falls, these molesters
Of statues, deep in the parks,
Only offer their arms and attentions
To the least improperly dressed.
In a one-to-one with a woman
It feels as if there are three,
Mixing up tomorrow with yesterday,
Intensely demanding nothing.
Claiming, “I love you” with eyes
To the gods, ecstatically dead-pan,
Concluding their mad declaration
With, “Oh hell, shall we just leave it!”
…Until She, in forgetful daze,
Seized by one-knows-not-what need,
Drunk on moonlight, falls into their arms
Very far from respectable ways.
Pierrots After Hours
In a café over absinthe glasses
They stretch the tight rope of a gaze;
A tilting line that gently sways,
Linking them briefly to express
Mad steps with nonchalant disdain,
Twinned in the dim light where they drink,
Where to fly upwards is to sink
And losing balance is to gain
A new context for the curved Moon
the velvet sea she’s swimming through.
Their blood freezes: nothing more to do
Except fall; fallen, fly alone
Onto the blue cobbles where all’s well,
White clothes spread out, a drifting calm,
‘til whirr of metal, crash , alarm
As church clock grates its ancient bell.