Assuming you’ve all had your morning fix at Just a Song, it’s time for another of my translation efforts from the 1990s. This one involves a poem by one of the “card-carrying,” capital “S” Surrealists, Benjamin Péret.
I felt myself very drawn to Péret's work, in fact & translated more poems of his than of any other poet. I translated the entire text, in fact, of a few of Péret’s books: Le grand jeu, De derrière les faggots (a truly untranslatable title), Je ne mange pas de ce pain-la, & Je Sublime. I particularly love the poems in Le grand jeu (from which this poem comes) & De derrière les faggots.
It’s odd in some ways, my attraction to Péret’s poetry, because in many ways it’s very dissimilar to anything I’ve written. I do think that working with Péret so much had an influence, however—it probably contributed to “loosening me up,” & also served as a great model for humor in modern poetry—tho overall, his sense of humor is probably more playful than mine, at least in the respective poetic incarnations.
There will certainly be more Péret poems to come here on Robert Frost’s Banjo. Hope you enjoy this one.
The Dead And Their Children
For Denise Kahn
If I was some thing
instead of some one
I'd say to Edward's children
give it up
and if they wouldn't give it up
I'd go off into the jungle of magi kings
without boots without my drawers
like a hermit
and there'd certainly be a big animal there
skinned like a calf
and it would come one night to eat my ears
Hey lord it would say to me
you are a saint among saints
go on take this car
The car was spectacular
eight wheels two engines
and a banana tree in the middle
that covered up Adam and Eve
but that's the subject of another poem
translation © John Hayes 1990-2009