Saturday, March 27, 2004

Random thinkings that become threads. Time compressed. Time considered as a helix of semi-precious stones (which is the greatest title I know of anything from anywhere. A story with an inherent landscape concentrate; each word you read breathes a bit more moisture into the landscape so it expands & expands & becomes more real than the real until you are enveloped into its helical folds. This piece by Samuel Delany is exquisite, & contains one of the most beautiful concepts I have ever come across, that of The Singer.

Singers are people who look at things, then go and tell other people what they've seen. What makes them Singers is their ability to make people listen.)

But more about Delany at a later time. Whenever, Neveryona. What has prompted this is a thread that starts with writing about Bunuel below, is picked up by a comment I made in response to a post on As/Is 2 where Jacques Prevert drifted to the surface unbidden. & time compressed is a sentence from one of the introductory essays to Big Smoke:New Zealand Poems 1960-1975 that remarks "In 1964, Mark Young wandered (to Auckland) from Wellington after three years at the Japanese Embassy spent translating Surrealist poets."

The two things mentioned in that sentence overlapped in time, but they didn't share the same space. I'll probably talk about the Embassy later & how, because of diplomatic channels & access to foreign currency I brought in most of the Olympia Press titles - Burroughs, Genet, de Sade, Trocchi, Terry Southern - which were still banned in N.Z. & most other countries. But I discovered French poetry of the first half of last century not through literary channels but through visual ones. Painting - Ernst, de Chirico, Arp, Magritte, Dali - & films such as The Andalusian Dog. There were always references to Breton, Eluard, Prevert, Peret & Desnos et al. in the literature about them so I went looking & could only find the poems in the original French. Was forced to translate them myself. Most of the translations I made have been eaten up by time & poor housekeeping, but a few of them were published, & one of the things that came with my inclusion in Big Smoke was a xeroxed collection of my past published pieces.

All of which brings me to the intention of this post, the following translation of a poem by Paul Eluard. It was first published in Argot, a little magazine out of Wellington, in 1964.

The Woman in Love
by Paul Eluard

She is standing on my eyelids
and her hair is in my hair.
She has the shape of my hands,
she has the colour of my eyes.
She is swallowed up in my shadow
like a stone against the sky.

Her eyes are always open
and she does not let me sleep.
Her dreams in broad daylight
make suns evaporate,
make me laugh, weep and laugh,
speak without having anything to say.

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