posted by Greg Baysans


Three Poems by Jacques Prévert

translated by Michael Benedikt


Poet X

The Garden

Millions and millions of years

Would still not give me half enough time

To describe

That tiny instant of all eternity

When you put your arms around me

And I put my arms around you

One morning in the cold winter light

In the Parc Montsouris in Paris

In Paris

On this earth of ours

This earth which is a star.

* * * * * * *

Wrestling With the Angel

for J.B. Brunius

Don't bother

The fight's fixed

The match is rigged

and when he or she or it appears aloft above the ring

surrounded by spotlights

they'll all start singing the TE DEUM

and even before you have the chance to get up from your little chair in the corner

their gong will sound

they'll throw their sacred sponge in your eyes

And you won't even get in a quick jab to the feathers

before they all grab you

and he or she or it will hit you below the belt

and you'll fall flat

arms stuck out stiff in an idiotic cross

outstretched in the sawdust

and you may never again be able to make love.

above translated by Michael Benedikt

* * * * * * *

final poem, "In Vain" translated by Teo Savory

In Vain

An old man howling at death

rolls his hoop across the square

He cries that it's winter and all is done

that the match is rigged the dice are thrown

the bets are made the mass is sung

the piece is played and the curtain down

In vain

in vain

They call me, those friends who can't stand me

they're running to fat and they stand watch in hand asking me questions they don't understand

In vain

in vain

Others more dead than alive walking blind

trailing their childhood dreams behind

And those well-tailored clubmen

bore you to tears with political fears

that the country's in danger the course is run

the statue's of clay the time has come...

Already I hear at the foot of the square

the roll of the muffled drum

the bugle is blowing the garden is closing

In vain

in vain

For those who loved it the garden stays open

* * * * * * *

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