For a baptism
If, subtle one, the little nose
dazzling, drowned in such
candour of guessed-at laughter
as this lace half-opens upon,
the filial instinct grabbed you,
prideful, but the second one
to resemble in her low-key
wit your blonde grandmother,
keep safe, from baptismal fonts,
that it might volatilise
miraculously into words
native and clear as a breeze,
the grain of salt on your tongue.
I have a translation of Victor Hugo’s poem Et Nox Facta Est in the first issue of the pdf journal Erotoplasty, edited from Seoul by Colin Lee Marshall. Many thanks to Colin.
I’ll be reading in Manchester on Saturday 17th February 2018 at Peter Barlow’s Cigarette #26 — co-readers are Zayneb Allak, James Byrne and Caitlin Doherty.
4.30 – 6.30, The Town Hall Tavern, 20 Tib Lane, Manchester M2 4JA.
I’ll be reading with The Shore Poets this Sunday (28th January), upstairs at The Outhouse, 12A Broughton St Lane, Edinburgh EH1 3LY. 1845 for 1900 start. Co-readers are Patrick Errington and Ian McDonough.
from Paul Valéry
When the sky the colour of a cheek
at last allows eyes to cherish it
and when at the gilded point of dying
among roses time takes place,
before one mute with pleasure
enchained by such a painting,
there dances a Shade in a trailing girdle
the evening comes close to catching.
This girdle wandering
in aerial breath
makes the last link tremble
between my silence and this world…
Absent, present… I am truly alone,
and downcast, o sweet-talking shroud.
from Paul Valéry
What hour hurls at the timbers of the hull
this great stroke of shadow where our fate is cracked?
What impalpable power knocks together
in our apparel bones of death?
On the bare prow, the collapse of the waterspouts
washes the odour of life and wine:
the sea raises up and hollows out again tombs,
the same water hollows and fills the furrow.
Hideous man, in whom the heart capsizes,
strange drunkard astray on the sea
whose nausea tied to the ship
wrests from the soul a desire for hell,
total man, I tremble and I calculate,
brain too clear, capable of the moment
when, in a miniscule phenomenon,
time is broken like an instrument…
Cursed be the pig that rigged you,
rotten ark whose ballast is infested!
In your black depths, every created thing
beats your dead timbers drifting towards the East…
The abyss and I form a machine
that juggles with scattered memories:
I see my mother and my china cups,
the fat whore on the animal threshold of the bars;
I see Christ moored on the yardarm!…
he dances to death, sinking with his kind;
his bleeding eye lights for me this epitaph:
A GREAT SHIP HAS PERISHED WITH ALL HANDS!…