Saturday, April 25, 2009


Hey, we’re expecting a big & fun day out here in the hinterlands, with yours truly playing the local Farmer’s Market late morning thru early afternoon, & then Eberle & I are off to the Council Chamber of Commerce banquet. I expect I'll be posting more about these events tomorrow.

In the interim, the Weekly Poem, another of my translations from Guillaume Apollinaire’s Alcools, one of the most perfect books of poetry I know. In fact, I’m almost positive this is the first Apollinaire poem I ever translated (tho it’s undergone some tweaking over the years), & it’s certainly one of my favorites among his short lyrics; it's a poem that is often somewhere in my head when I’m writing, & practically always in my head when I see roses. Although the roses haven’t bloomed here yet, the air is awash with birdsong & pollen—it’s high spring, & there’s something about that backdrop that makes this poem almost unbearably poignant. The gentle humor & the understated tone also contribute to this.

I truly love this poem. Because it’s short, I’m posting the original French below the translation. Hope you enjoy it.


On the coast of Texas
Between Mobile and Galveston there is a
Big garden brimming with roses
It also contains a country house
Itself a big rose

A woman often strolls
All alone through the garden
And when I walk past on the road that's fringed with lime trees
We look at each other

Because that woman's a Mennonite
Her rosebushes and her garments have no buttons
Two are missing from my jacket
The lady and I observe almost the same rite

translation © John Hayes 1990-2009


Sur la côte du Texas
Entre Mobile et Galveston il y a
Un grand jardin tout plein de roses
Il contient aussi une villa
Qui est une grande rose

Une femme se promène souvent
Dans le jardin toute seule
Et quand je passe sur la route bordée de tilleuls
Nous nous regardons

Comme cette femme est mennonite
Ses rosiers et ses vêtements n'ont pas de boutons
Il en manque deux à mon veston
La dame et moi suivons presque le même rite



  1. thank you for that. very nice translation, although what could be lovelier than "nous nous regardons" and "la dame et moi suivons presque le meme rite." Oh my. My mother was french and I have yet to really learn it, but I love it.

    My last post had a bit about roses too. I hope you'll stop by.

  2. What's really perfect is that you love his poetry, and that your translations are sublime. Thank you!

    Have fun at the banquet.

  3. Thank you for making these words known to the English speaking. I look forward to your posts and enjoy my visits. Thank you as well for your visits to APOGEE Poet - your comments are deeply appreciated.

  4. Yes,I can see Spring & The Promise Of Summer in Your Words.Thanks for posting.I hope you had a good Day.

  5. Hi folks!

    Rene: Thank you--appreciate your interest. The reflexive French verbs are always a bear to translate & never quite carry the force they have in the original; & yes, the last line is a killer. By the way, I did stop by your blog, & it is great-- anyone getting a feed on these comments-- I recommend Yes is Red. It'll be on the blog roll here shortly.

    Hi Reya: Thanks for your graciousness-- "sublime" is good, thanks. We will have fun at the banquet-- Eberle is going to get a good surprise, which I'll let everyone know about tomorrow (no chance now she'll be seeing these comments before we go)!

    Rose Marie: Thanks for that. I've enjoyed your blog, & I also appreciate your visits & comments.

    Tony: So glad you liked it. Am having a good day-- had fun being human jukebox this morning & early afternoon, & am looking forward to this evening a lot.

  6. Lovely... a Texas poem! Have a fun day & evening! Look forward to hearing about your day.
    Bye the way I tagged you for a meme if you're in the mood. Info at my place.

  7. The gift of connection - and so I Thank You for "Yes is Red." I am now to be counted among those who "Follow."

  8. Hi Lizzy:

    Yes, a Texas (more or less) poem by a Frenchman who may not have had a real solid geographical take on North America-- but what a poet. As I mentioned over at your place, I'll take you up on the meme, & will probably post it on Monday.

    Hi Rose Marie:

    Yes, I'm very impressed with the quality of the writing on "Yes is Red." Glad you joined in.

  9. If you were to visit: - go to the "Conceptual Art" display and view, Frames of Mind, Opus 6, you would see common threads of spirit in RED...
    And yet another connection to YES. A sculpture was created for me. It is simply the word YES in Roman letters. It represents a definition I have given to YES, as I live and perceive it - Yield to Eternal Spirit - the red of passion, flame, fire, that devours and creates...

  10. Thanks Rose Marie-- I'll check out that link. Serendipitous connections are fascinating.

  11. YES - they indeed are so - feel my HUG and see my SMILE!!

  12. thank you John, so very much. I am so glad to be finding these beautiful blogs, and to be included.

    thank you rose marie... I was bowled over by your painting, and commented at my site too. I love that "yield to eternal spirit." You've got it exactly.

  13. I do like the poem, John, particularly the button stanza.

    I hope you had fun at the market - and the banquet. Oh, my. What a busy day.

  14. Hi Rose Marie: That is a fantastic painting.

    Hi Rene: Your most welcome-- your blog seems like a very good read.

    Hi Sandra: Thanks. Yeah, that thing about the buttons is so good. It was a busy day, but fun. I'll write some about it tomorrow afternoon.

  15. A charming poem. I will have to look out for more of his writing. I really like it. We live near Mennonite country so it made it all the more vivid for me.

    Thank you for posting this.


  16. Thanks Kat: Glad you enjoyed it.


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