Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Poèmes extraits de Mystes

By Matthieu Baumier
Translated from the French by Elizabeth Brunazzi
 We have gone to the earth,
 We have gone beneath the oak,
 Facing the stillness of
 The winged speech of the world.

 The oak is inscribed on the earth,
 The wings of the world folded within,
 Nothing moves.

 In that place stones and trees converse,
 In that place stars and clouds empty out
 The unmoving crease of the world.  
 We have gone toward the eye
 Of the sun,
 We have gone inside the bark
 Of the silver birch,

 And the wild cherry trees.

 In the silence of the heart, the immobility
 Of the tree,
 We have gone there.

 In places far off from men, without language,
 We have gone.


     To the memory of René Char

     I am writing from this instant
     the aftertime of the world’s end.
     There where,
     Tears of rain flow
     Where words take the secret shapes
     Of indecipherable vigils.

     I am living through the passage of the soul

     There where,

     Stones inscribe

     The landscape in flames.

 I am living in the wake of phantom armies
 And my eye comprehends only this silence.

 I am writing from this instant the aftertime of the world’s end
 And I assume a smile
 Torn from the blood of stars.

 I say this:
 Let prose go silent now
 And let the spirit of water spring forth.

*     *     *

Translator’s Notes

The title of these poems, Mystes, has no exact translation in English. I like to think of them as a series of masks assumed by the poet inspired by classical initiation rites and ceremonies, played forward in the modernist, Rimbaldian version of the poet as voyant, seer, visionary and spiritual guide for our times. Each is an epiphany on a moment converging with a text, as in the sampling, “In memory of René Char.” I like the confrontation of these solemn styles adopted by young neo-symbolist French poets with famously narrative, episodic American “cool.”

I am grateful to Paris founder of the Festival of Franco-English poetry and editor of the Franco-English poetry anthology La Traductière Jacques Rancourt for introducing me to Matthieu Baumier and his co-editor Gwen Garnier-Duguy.

*     *     *

Born in 1968, Matthieu Baumier is a French author of novels, essays and poetry. His poetry is featured in many French and European reviews and magazines, including Agora (Spain), Polja (Serbia), The French Literary Review (U.K.) and Poezija (Croatia). He has recently published his poetry in English translation in Word Riot and Poetry Quarterly (USA). He is currently the chief editor of the online magazine Recours au Poème, launched on May 15th, 2012.

Elizabeth Brunazzi is a poet, fiction writer, translator and essayist. Her poetry has been published in bilingual versions in Le Nouveau Recueil and La Traductiere. She was awarded residency status under the French government "Competences et Talents" program for research in France in 2011. She has recently held teaching appointments in Comparative Literature at Rutgers and Creative Writing at George Washington University.

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