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Archive for the ‘Parisian Tableaus’ Category

Along the old alleyway, all of the hovels conceal
Secret debauches, behind shades tightly drawn
While the midday sun beats down with a headmaster’s zeal
Upon the old rooftops and yellowing lawns
I’m absorbed in my own campaign
Sniffing each corner for the chance of a tune
Catching my toe on some old refrain
Untangling rhymes in the long afternoon

Greener of leaves, our bright and risen protector
Charms both roses and worms to wriggle out of the clay
Fills up our buzzing blockheads with honey and nectar
And evaporates all of our troubles away
He restores youth to the hobbled and lame
To skip along sweet as a child through the heather
He commands crops to grow strong in their fame
Kept safe in the heart that will bloom on forever

When he descends down into our poor quarter
To raise up the fortunes of the wretched and callous
He slips in quiet like a King without courtiers
To visit alike every sick ward and palace

Translated by Chris Schoen
[Original poem here.]

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The great hearted maid that made you so jealous
Obligingly sleeps in the humble grass
I think that we should bring her some flowers
The sorrow of the dead is so much deeper than ours

And when October bares the trees to their bones
Blowing his somber wind around the headstones
The dead bear the living with such chagrin
To sleep, as we do, so snug in our linens

While they are consumed by black desolation
Without a bed partner, or soft conversation
These frozen old skeletons sculpted by the worm
Each winter snowmelt so keenly discerned

And the centuries pass without friend or kin
To replace the old tatters that flap in the wind

If some evening while the fire whistles and sings
I should see her sit, calm in her chair, placidly rocking
If on a blue and cold night in December
I found her by the fire, raking the embers

Solemnly returned from her eternal nowhere
To swaddle again the child raised under her care
What could I answer that pious soul in reply
When I saw the tears falling from her excavated eye?

–Translated by Chris Schoen

[View original poem here.]

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