Monday, July 18, 2005

Irresponsible Translations 4

I think we're at four; it's been awhile. I was reading W.H.Auden this afternoon, a poet whose work, I believe, is still under copyright. So under fair use, I'll simply cite the last stanza of his extraordinary "September 1, 1939":

Defenceless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame.
Since so many of my feelings tonight are captured by Auden's copyright-protected poem, I'll instead share my translation of a similarly astrological-themed poeme en prose, Baudelaire's #37, "The Good Deeds Of The Moon."

Below the fold, as becomes my native modesty. Oh, and if you have come across this post in your scholastic research, as I see some people have of my earlier translations, I urge you to remember that my site is googleable, that my translations are "irresponsible," and that my Creative Commons licence permits credited reproductions.


The Good Deeds of the Moon

The Moon, who is capriciousness itself, looked through the window as you were sleeping in your cradle and said, “This child pleases me.”

And she smoothly descended her ladder of clouds and passed through the window without noise. Then she laid herself onto you with the tenderness of a mother, and she left her colors on your face. Your irises have stayed green from it, and your cheeks extraordinarily pale. It’s from contemplating this visitor that your eyes have so strangely widened, and she caught you by the throat so tenderly that you have since always wanted to cry.

However, in this expansion of her joy, the Moon filled the entire bedroom with a phospheric atmosphere, like a luminous poison; and all this living light thought and said, “You will feel the influence of my kiss eternally. You will be beautiful in my manner. You will love what I love and what loves me; water, clouds, silence and night; the immense green ocean; uniform and multiform water; the place where you are not; the lover whom you do not know; monstrous flowers; perfumes that make you delirious; cats which spasm on pianos and which mewl like women in soft, hoarse voices.

“And you will be loved by my lovers, courted by my courtisans. You will be the queen of green-eyed men, whose throats I have also caught during my nocturnal caresses; those who love the ocean, the immense, tumultous, green ocean, unformed and multiformed water, the place where they are not, the woman they do not know, sinister flowers that resemble censers of an unknown religion, perfumes that disturb the will, and savage and voluptous animals that are the emblems of their madness.”

And that is why, dear and damned brat, I am now prostrate at your feet, searching all over your body for a glint of the terrible Divinity, the fateful godmother, poisonous nurse of all lunatics.


Post a Comment

<< Home