Intellect & Emotions weaved in poetry : La Fileuse / The Spinner

Hi, my reader…

You know me a little : I love to watch and find structures, then I love to find two opposite qualities, then I love to find how they dance together, how they weave…

Thus I ask myself questions like “Does an artist have to explore his paths from him/herself, or does he have to learn all the rules of his/her Art before?”. Or “Does a piece of Art please the audience as it is, or does it please the audience with questions, links with other things, analysis bliss?”.

I know nothing about poetry, but as I’m interested in the translation processes (English/French), therefore I had to look at poetry “building”.

  • Some poets work on words alchemy, they create sparkles with unusual words and their combinations. It’s chemistry! Those are impossible to translate.
  • Some poets tell stories, they lead us into descriptions. You see images or/and movements. Those are possible to translate.
  • Of course : it’s often a fabric made of both…

 

Most of the time, the reader who knows a little and like poetry SEES what is activated. You could almost imagine the poet in his workshop…

 

There’s a delight in feeling sensations provided by a good line, and there’s another pleasure which is to understand why.

It’s why we often meditate on a poem. We read over. We stop. We suck it, feeling nuances like a good cigar or an old rich wine. This discipline activates your brain on many levels, and you can almost hear the levers and dials of your intelligence and sensitivity (sensibility?) moving their little feet in your dancing mind…

 

I chose “La Fileuse” (The Spinner), a poem by Paul Valéry, because… You’ll see…

I give the translated text (the French one is at the end). Of course the French rhymes are lost, their’s less music. Whatever.

 

Like in a quiet painting, a spinner falls asleep…

She fell asleep because of the blue sky, or the wheel’s noise, or is she tired? She spins wool, or her hair? Is it a poem or a dream?

Things resonate : swaying garden, rose, head, hair. All the poem can be seen as a “game of arrows” playing with your inner eyes : the woman, then the garden, the wheel, the blue, a tree, a stem, a rose, the woman, she spins (but she’s aslept, right?). Your “sights” are pulled, constantly…

The proceedings of the poem plays with paradoxes, facets, like a poetic proliferation. The time seems lost in dreammobility. The “camera” dances between small elements like in Pierre Boulez’s music. It’s like examining a small architecture (instead of following the time and the path of a “story”).

Therefore the reader is pleasantly lost, like in… a dream. He needs to go back to beginnings. Many little disturbances are like jewels in the painting. A stem, in which the wandering wind relaxes…

To keep it a poem, the translator chose to forget a few flakes :

  • Your sister the lofty rose, a smiling saint, -> a rose where a (female) saint smile
  • You languish . . . -> You think you languish…

 

Here is it. The poem has many assets…

  • You don’t clearly understand the poet’s wills
  • Strangeization of the phrases keeps you focused
  • You’re not clearly explained the images
  • It’s a game of chemistry and at the same time a game for thinker
  • Your “logic” is caught, then it’s driven into a unlogic
  • It’s maybe meta : the poem looks like a dream of a dreaming person
  • It says something about the freedom of a poet
  • It respects rules (it’s poetry) but it does NOT
  • Things are unclear, things can be many things at a time (hair/wool)
  • Resonance between things (nodding garden, flowers, head), creating a quiet dance
  • The poet disturbs you, tests you, and your images inner builder
  • Multiple re-readings brings you something, clues
  • This poem, maybe, has to be SOLVED

Thanks for reading!

 

The Spinner

Seated, the spinner in the casement blue—
The garden nods and sways melodiously;
The old wheel snores, and she becomes entranced.

Weary—having drunk the azure—of spinning
The nestling hair elusive to her frail
Fingers, she dreams; her little head bows down.

A bush and pure air make a lively stream
Suspended in the sunbeam: delightful sprinkles
Of flower-losses bathe the idler’s garden.

A stem, in which the wandering wind relaxes,
Bends the vain salute of its starry grace
Devoting to the wheel its splendid rose.

The sleeper spins a lonely woolen hair:
Mysteriously the subtle shadow weaves
Into the thread of long and sleeping fingers.

The dream unwinds angelic laziness:
Ceaseless, onto the sweet ingenuous spindle,
The hair waves gladly under her caress . . .

Behind so many flowers the azure hides,
The spinner girded round with leaves and light:
The sky of green is dying. The last tree burns.

Your sister the lofty rose, a smiling saint,
Perfumes your hazy brow with gentle wind
Of innocent breath; you languish . . . You are fading

In casement blue where you were spinning wool.

La Fileuse

Assise, la fileuse au bleu de la croisée
Où le jardin mélodieux se dodeline,
Le rouet ancien qui ronfle l’a grisée.

Lasse, ayant bu l’azur, de filer la câline
Chevelure, à ses doigts si faibles évasive,
Elle songe, et sa tête petite s’incline.

Un arbuste et l’air pur font une source vive
Qui suspendue au jour, délicieuse arrose
De ses pertes de fleurs le jardin de l’oisive.

Une tige, où le vent vagabond se repose,
Courbe le salut vain de sa grâce étoilée,
Dédiant magnifique, au vieux rouet, sa rose.

Mais la dormeuse file une laine isolée ;
Mystérieusement l’ombre frêle se tresse
Au fil de ses doigts longs et qui dorment, filée.Le songe se dévide avec une paresse
Angélique, et sans cesse, au fuseau doux crédule,
La chevelure ondule au gré de la caresse…

Derrière tant de fleurs, l’azur se dissimule,
Fileuse de feuillage et de lumière ceinte :
Tout le ciel vert se meurt. Le dernier arbre brûle.

Ta sœur, la grande rose où sourit une sainte,
Parfume ton front vague au vent de son haleine
Innocente, et tu crois languir… Tu es éteinte

Au bleu de la croisée où tu filais la laine.

 

 

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Haiku about storm…

Some say haiku come from old songs. If you extract words from these wakas (Japanese songs) you have an haiku ! Sadaiye collected some of these songs in a book…

Chiru hana wo
Oikakete Yuku
Arashi kana

The falling blossoms:
Look at them, it is the storm
That is chasing them.

Sadaiye


Found in Haiku and Modernist Poetics, by Hakutani Y.

The quality of time has been modified 

The quality of time has been modified

Like a sudden change in the light

Look around you, now

The present is full of shades

The past resuscitates  – or goes very far

The future is now impossible to measure

When does this happen? Sudden proximity of death? Pregnancy? War? Love? A splendid new idea, a project?

What is lost? Why? Can you do as if nothing happened? Will you live differently? What does it trigger? What is possible? What do you want : use this new light? Find back the old one?

#cat  #poem

Blue is the quiet Sky, le ciel est tout bleu

…her cat in a long rectangular light

on the warm wooden floor

watches the invisible

Propeller/Hélice :

Outside, the remote, tenuous thready sound of an old plane

and a bird in a little tree, near the road

playing its smiling idleflute

The cat listened and went away, le chat est parti.

The plane is far. The bird sleeps.

Shades down, lignes of squares

on lovers on the bed


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First Ever & Hitherto Unheard, a words combination game

Fool’s dew – Heartened letterbox – Heavy-headed butterfly

Well that’s an easy game, keeping in mind that a little minibell could ring somewhere each time you pronounce a new combination of words. Ding!

Today you can even check with Google. Then you could be surprised : I googled “grapes in fire” and I found one. And I was wrong to imagine a Ding! with my “heavy-headed butterfly” : there’s one in a poem – by a Kathy Walden – with this one.

You get easier unheards when you :

  1. stick words together
  2. watch names on a “not my country” map and translate each
  3. combine words from different languages
  4. try to invent titles
  5. random play with a dictionary
  6. poetize
  7. combine three remote-fields words

 

What’s the purpose, dear?

Invention? A game to be “aware” of words? Seeds for poetry? A tool to find good article titles? An invitation to learn other languages?

Butterfly (flying butter, really??) in French is Papillon, in Spanish Mariposa. Play, combine, invert, etc…

 

Let write a poem (or a country music song, lalère) :

Hey heavy-headed butterfly
Grapes are on fire in the West

My heartened letterbox awaits
The fool’s dew for y’all

And a caterpillar cheek kiss

Are you all safe?

 

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Low level well-being song

There’s a state

in some unbearable evenings

I would name

“low level well-being”

 

Like in the George Strait song

“I got some ocean front property in Arizona.

from my front porch you can see the sea”

When you hear

“I’ll be fine”

you probably know it’s not true

 

There’s a state

in some unbearable evenings

one just closes everything

in a incomprehensible pain

“low level well-being”

Well being?

“Yeah, if you’ll buy that I’ll throw the golden gate in free. “

 

#layers

 

 

Because of “you”, this French Verlaine’s poem can not be translated in English.

1 Tu or Vous?

You know that in France we have two different “YOU”.

  • It’s “VOUS” for the people you don’t know very well, your teacher, strangers, etc.
  • And we say “TU” to siblings, lovers, parents and good friends.

I know, it’s a bit complicated when you speak English. Your “How are you?” becomes “Comment vas-tu?” to my brother and my friends, and “Comment allez-vous?” to my neighbors, my mother-in-law, etc.

Sooo…  How are vous? or How are tu? See?

Of course you get that it’s very important in France, because vous is more polite, creates a safe distance, etc. As a French, we are easily offended by the wrong or too early “tu”. Some web pages targeting teenagers use the “tu” communication (in emails, for example), which can be tricky and over-familiar to many.

 

2 Verlaine

There’s an classic poem in France, named Colloque Sentimental, which begins like that :

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.

In the lonely old park’s frozen glass
Two shadows lately passed.

Ha! You see the mood! These two were lovers, and they now talk about the past. Of course it becomes a cruel game between the wax lyrical guy and his cold ex.
So here is a part of their dialog :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ?
– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

– Ton coeur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom ?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve ? – Non.

Ah ! les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches ! – C’est possible.

‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’
‘Why do you want me to remember that?’
 
‘Does your heart still beat at my name alone?’
‘Is it always my soul you see in dream?’ – ‘No’.
 
‘Oh the lovely days of unspeakable mystery,
When our mouths met!’ – ‘Maybe.’

 

3 Translating the You?

Look closer at this one (you see me coming). The man asks :

– Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne ? ‘Do you recall our former ecstasies?’

“Te souvient-il” is a formal way to say “Tu te souviens”. It’s the TU form of a close relation.

The woman’s answer is :

– Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne ?

She uses the VOUS form, speaking to him as a stranger. Putting a distance between them, saying “I don’t know vous very well”. So, the real answer is more like :

Why the fuck do you want me to remember that?

…but this is not poetry, right?

On the web I found :

  • “Why should I remember it at all?”
  • “Why would you have me rake up memories?”
  • “Why ever should you wish me to remember?”

All are correct, and we get her point, right?

BUT there’s no way, in a translation, you can feel the distance she puts using VOUS, instead of the TU she used to say in his arms, in older times.

Now, do you feel the guy tightening heart?

Aaawweeee!

Thanks for reading!

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Paintings : Joseph Lorusso