Saturday, June 25, 2011

"My Dance"

[The next in my series of translations from Blaise Cendrars’ Deux-Neuf poèmes élastiques (19 Elastic Poems)]

My Dance

Plato doesn’t grant citizenship to the poet
Wandering Jew
Metaphysical Don Juan
Friends, kindred
You have no more customs and no habits yet
You have to escape the magazines’ tyranny
Impoverished life
Misplaced pride
Woman, the dance Nietzsche wished us to learn to dance
But irony?
Continual coming and going
Special vagrancy
All men, all lands
That’s how you’re no longer a burden
You no longer sense yourself

I’m a gentleman who crosses always the same Europes
    in fabulous express trains and looks disheartened
    out the window
The landscape doesn’t interest me
But the landscape’s dance
The landscape’s dance
I’m all-turning


Blaise Cendrars
Translation Jack Hayes © 1990-present


  1. I really liked this, John! Your translations are always really accessible and enjoyable to read - even for someone not too familiar with the poets. I particularly liked the "paritatitata".

    I also like the way the translation often inverts the verb and the adjective, giving it a certain elegance (for my ear, anyway).


  2. Hi Kat: Thanks! As I recall, "paritatitata" is an untranslatable portmanteau word of Cendrars--but I don't have the original right here handy. Like your new avatar pic btw!

  3. Interesting poem by an interesting poet I should know more about- it got me googling. Thanks for translating it.

  4. Hi Dominic: Glad this piqued your interest in Cendrars. Dick Jones of Patteran Pages has also translated Cendrars; my versions of 19 Elastic Poems post every other Saturday here.


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.