Coixí de cascalls

Sous le pont Mirabeau, coule la Seine

Sena profund, discorres
a bon pas sota els ponts melancòlics,
banyes l’illa de la Ciutat,
on regna Notre-Dame, cristall d’alè,
la de torres quadrades. Aculls
—grogues com les estrelles grogues—
les fulles esgotades dels pollancres dels quais:
així vas acollir aquell que havia dit
que la pàtria del poeta és la llengua,
ni que la llengua sigui l’alemany
i el poeta, jueu.

Vas acollir-lo com la fulla fràgil
d’un arbre fatigat
al cor del teu corrent glaçat i espès.
I ell, que et degué mirar
com un doll de memòria trobadissa,
ell, que duia un farcell prou feixuc
de llengua exiliada, de dubte i sofriment,
va trobar en tu
un coixí de cascalls on reposar per sempre.


Pillow of Poppies

Sous le pont Mirabeau, coule la Seine

Deep Seine, coursing
quick under melancholy bridges,
you bathe the City isle
where Notre-Dame’s square towers reign,
a breath of crystal. You take up
—yellow as the yellow stars—
the spent leaves of the poplars by the quais,
just as you took up the one who said
that language is the homeland of the poet,
even if the language is German
and the poet, a Jew.

Like the fragile leaf of a weary tree
you took him in,  
into the heart of your thick and icy current.
And he, who must have seen in you
a source of chanced-upon memory,
he, who bore a heavy enough bundle
of exiled language, of doubt and suffering,
found in you
a pillow of poppies on which to rest forever.   

Translated by Mary Ann Newman


Opium Bed

Sous le pont Mirabeau, coule la Seine

Deep River Seine, under the sad bridges
how you ponder slow but steady
as you bathe the Île de la Cité,
where square-towered, crystal-lunged
Notre Dame reigns
and along the banks
the poplar leaves—yellow
like yellow stars are yellow—
you receive
as you once received he who said
the poet’s motherland is language,
even if it’s German and the poet a Jew.

You took him in, into the core
of your thick and icy stream,
as though he were a fragile leaf
from a burnt out tree.
And he, who made you seem
a rushing stream of memories,
he, who with his heavy sack
of exiled talk and doubt and pain,
found in you
an opium bed to rest his head forever.

Translated by Rowan Ricardo Phillips