for Norton Hodges
‘And if I were not a tree,
Where would the birds settle?’
The trees blazing with leaves on fire
And these divinely primitive moments of solitude
In the evenings with their countless smells of burning
The clear sinuous air.
Norton, my Friend,
Let us run from the untrammelled elegance of tears!
Do we not still have
The exquisite double pleasure of books,
The pomp of their palaces
Where we finally we may enter
Without powdered wigs or painted faces?
There, beneath the sumptuous gildings of time,
We attend to our poems
There, we will come to know the impermanent river
Why would we need to clear away
Forests and felled wood from our gardens?
Let us listen to the words come to us
With their ritual scent
Of black cherries, wild blackberries,
Mint, chervil and kumquat.
Let us read the lines of the immortal poets
With their warm perfume of hazelnuts, of toasted bread,
Of acacia honey and apricots!
And let us wait for the imminent shower
Of pleasant rain
So that our hearts may sleep easily.
No, Norton, my Friend,
The soul’s poetry
Does not know fatigue, everyday cares and lassitude,
Faithful to the grammar of the stars,
It watches over us in every season
To make us lighter,
Translated from the French of Athanase Vantchev de Thracy by Norton Hodges