Featured Translations

JACQUES RÉDA

AMEN

No lord do I appeal to, and no clarity in the night.

The death I will have to hold against me, in my flesh, like a woman,

Is the stone of humility I must in spirit touch,

The lowest rung, the unbearable separation

From whatever I'll clutch at, earth or hand, given over to that

journey like no other -

And that total overturning of the sky, past imagining.

But let it be said here that I accept and ask for nothing

As payment for a submission that carries its own reward.

And what that is, and why, I do not know:

Where I kneel there is no faith or pride, nor hope,

But as through the eye that the moon opens under the night,

A return to the intangible land of origins,

Ash kissing ash as a calm wind gives its blessing.

Translated by Jennie Feldman

[Emerging one night.]

Emerging one night from the accordion's ruptured bellows

She came through the metal pillars of the metro

Mumbling like a crazed wretch in slippers

And the whites of her eyes had less shine than the dubious hope

That beckons to runaway children in public gardens.

She didn't say to me: Hey, I'm the pick-up of your dreams,

Buy me a drink at the bar on Boulevard Garibaldi -

The high bar with its forbidding zinc and dead wood where you pay

As with pebbles across the duckweed of a pond.

No, she creaked the door open and I didn't dare drink

The mouthful swirling dark in the false-bottomed glass.

People thoroughly smoked, packages by a cellar door,

Waited their turn and had stopped looking at me

And the windows shuddered more than an old train starting up,

The bistro on the move as I stepped down, my drink untouched.

Translated by Jennie Feldman

THE SOUL'S SITUATION

The flesh, yes, but the soul has no desire for eternity,

Shrinking like a rounded breath

On the pane, a mere syncope

In the lengthy phrase the gods breathe out.

It knows it is mortal and almost imaginary

And rejoices as such in secret away from the torturing heart.

It's how a child who is kept from playing

Slips away, eyes lowered against his own transparency.

But where are the gods, poor things? - In the cellar;

And they only come up at night, to look in the garbage

For a bit to eat. The gods

Have turned the corner on the street. The gods

Humbly order a toddy at the station bar

And throw up at daybreak against a tree. The gods

Would willingly die. (But only the soul can,

At a distance from the gods and the fretful body

In its eternity of nitrogen and hydrogen,

At a distance dance an airy death.)

Translated by Jennie Feldman

(The above translations are from the forthcoming bilingual collection, Treading Lightly, Selecte

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