Mon ami, l'éminent poète britannique Norton Hodges a traduit en anglais mon poème "La Mort du vieux paysan".
The Death of the Old Peasant
To all who labour for our nourishment
'...Every part of the house
had already fallen into a doze'
You were ploughing the field
in the cheerful company of jackdaws,
covered in salty streams of sweat,
your movements more harmonious,
more eloquent even than any of Homer's
most beautiful verses!
Sometimes you sang,
knowing that is the shortest route to love.
The discreet beauty of your soul
knew no bounds!
Suddenly, the sky began to spin
and you fell down into a furrow,
your face radiant,
close to the smiling face of the earth!
Finally you had come to the place all things come to at their end!
Now the gentle air casts on you
the damask taffeta of its breath.
Watermelons cover your body
with their sensual red shroud!
Tonight your words will sparkle
on the dress of a sky violet as bellflowers!
Tomorrow, white poppies
will pour pure brightness
your forgotten tomb!
Note: This was how our neighbour Marin, an honest and decent Bulgarian peasant, died one August day, alone with the earth, the sky and the watermelons he used to grow. He had already lost his wife and his only son and lived alone in his small house in the midst of a luxurious garden.
He had a tender affection for me and I often went over to admire the beauty of the flowers, which he called 'my girls' and which he wouldn't permit anyone but himself to pick.
Sometimes at night in Paris, I see again his lined face etched by the sun. He comes to me in dreams and says, as if he were still alive, 'Child, would you like to taste one of my watermelons?'
Today, no one remembers this delightful man. His house is now a ruin. His garden only flourishes in my memory. One summer I went back to the field where he died. Grass and brambles had grown wild and invaded the land he loved so much. I was overcome by a feeling of sadness and poignancy and I shed a few tears. Lord, is Marin now ploughing the gardens of Paradise?
translated from the French of Athanase Vantchev de Thracy by Norton Hodges