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, there’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!
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.
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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