Two Poems by Anna de Noailles rendered into English by Roger Hunt Carroll

November 20, 2010 at 11:58 am (Poetry)

L’HONNEUR DE SOUFFRIR XLVI

Time itself speeds by quickly enough,
though remainder days drag slowly on,
their dreary hauntings spread out on their own,
sealing lifeless peace in stilled desire.

Those who yet live sometimes sing of salvation
and a faint-filled shattering of false infinity’s door:
but nothing in human spheres owns perfection,
not hearts beating in desperation’s deadly overtime,

nor wildly wearing out until they can’t engage anything.
So it’s true: those utterly dead who’ve really gone aside,
not here anymore, give to our living barrenness
gifts of sight judged from their appointed place,

no matter what we decide from our clouded point of view.
They alone know the grace of consolation along the way —
only they know how it assuages all our dire display.

L’HONNEUR DE SOUFFRIR LXXXV

All things are, yet what exists owns nothing.
Everything known or unknown, even stars —
or more vast, exquisite mysteries —
dissolve in face of the fact of losing you.

The expanding universe is a mere stage design,
an empty, frivolously formed theater set
where my unyielding pulse now appearing there
has no power to throb your dead heart to life again.

Editor’s Note: These two pieces come from Variations by Roger Hunt Carroll (The Hague Press, 2009). The author is at pains to stress that these are not ‘translations’ in the normal sense of the word, but more ‘arrangements’ in the musical sense. He writes notably, “I place a poem in an alternate language as if in another musical key….amalgamating the impressions and distilling the experience” . S.H.

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