Another poem of roughly the same vintage- and similarly wintry. |
Winter, wolves, Grey brother padding
The frozen streets with his yellow eyes,
The old dead out on Mountfaucon gibbet,
Creaking with ice....
I’ve tried translating
La Heaulmiere. It ends like this...
And so all human beauty ends
I've got arthritis everywhere.
My spinal column twists and bends.
My breasts, don’t ask, have gone a terre.
My stomach is in bad repair.
And no-one's going to want to eat
My pussy now. I've skin to spare,
Mottled and flecked like sausage meat
And so the talk goes round and round
About the good times that we had,
Poor biddies sitting on the ground
Like faggots round a fire. How sad.
First come the good times then the bad.
The fire flares up but soon goes cold.
We used to be so bloody mad
But in the end we all grow old.
Yes, but it’s neither ancient nor modern
Is it? What do I call the woman?
There’s not a lot of armouresses
About these days. “The foxy babe
Who worked in defence has a bit of a moan.”
Don’t worry. That’s a joke (I think)
But what’s her context?
Last winter’s snows-
Untranslatable. Best lyric poem
Written by anyone, anytime, any place....
...But conceivable only then,
With Paris no more than a big village,
The language new.
I could blag it so
You’d believe I remembered a former life
As a scholar in the middle ages.
I’d draw on Hugo, Henley, Stevenson,
Even Kipling (see above)
To give you a Paris to touch and feel
And smell. The taverns, Notre Dame,
And Margot squashing Villon flat,
But I wouldn’t be able to do his coldness.