Two Poems by Marc Delouze

 

My wife and I first met Marc Delouze in Paris in the summer of 2001, where he treated us to dinner and walked us around the Montmartre neighborhood in which he'd grown up.  In September of that year Marc came to Taipei to attend the Taipei International Poetry Festival, an event disrupted first by the terrorist attacks in New York (which led to many international flights being cancelled) and then by the arrival in Taiwan of typhoon Nari, the most destructive typhoon to hit Taiwan in recent years.  Regardless of these combined disasters, Marc succeeded in making it to the festival and in attending most of the events.  While here he managed to slog about the flooded city as much as possible, taking in as much of the place as he could.  I only wish we could have shown him a bit more.

 

The following two translations grew out of Marc's Taiwan visit.  The first poem is one of his earlier works, and was translated into English for reading at one of the festival events.  The second Marc wrote in response to the disaster in Taipei, and was translated after his return to Europe.  The French texts are followed by the English translations. --Eric Mader

 

 

Cauchemar d'une fte ou l'inverse

 

C'est le carnaval au bout de mes doigts tout

se travestit grossirement et ment

comme un bruit de voix derrire mon paule

je ne sais plus parler crire

je ne said plus crire parler

tout

est refaire

de n'tre pas d' peine avoir t le jour d'hier

o je ne suis pas n

me griffe de sa vrit

tout est re-taire

 

Le silence en moi me gne car

il ne sait plus combler l'infime retard

sur le bruit qui le devance et me tient par la main

et ce pour prend la forme grossire

(mais je m'y laisse prendre)

d'un stylo dont la proue fend

la page ivre se contorsionne retombe

(comme un chat sur ses pieds)

sur son nez

 

De ne se convaincre que du sillage

l' peine suivre tant il gare et tant

il dsaccorde le livre prvu

et son reflet sur la page-miroir o mes ongles se brisent

gratter griffer biffer

le mot auquel je me prends...

 

le souffle

                un peu le prendre

                                        aussi

le souffle

               qu'il s'affale

                              sur le flou du vers

 

(o est le vers?

moi le fil du

vers je le perds

je l'ai perdu

voyez-vous

- le voyez-vous?)

 

et plus il me poursuit plus je cours

et plus et plus il me poursuit plus court

d'arguments je me trouve

perdu - o suis-je?

avant

aprs

la fte

a pris un autre visage

normal

pour un carnaval

nul ne s'en plaindra sauf la lune peut-tre et encore...

 

Je disais

les visages

non

les traits

plus les mmes

l'heure est autre la fte

a pris un autre visage mon visage

a pris une autre tte

hier c'tait la nuit c'est ce matin demain

l'aurore aux doigts de prose confre aux choses leur

laideur

familire

c'est demain et les mots sous mes ongles sont noirs

pauvre et pas nouveaux les mots

ont-ils encore un masque

un dernier masque

un tout dernier...

 

...peut-tre ne le saurai-je jamais peut-tre

ne saurai-je jamais la fin de la fte

y a-t-il une fin

y avait-il une fte?

 

--Marc Delouze

 

 

*******

 

 

Nightmare of a Festival or Vice-Versa

 

It's the carnival at the tips of my fingers everything

disguised outrageously and lying

like the sound of a voice behind my shoulders

I no longer know how to speak of writing

I no longer know how to write of speech

all

must be redone

not to be just barely having been the yesterday

in which I wasn't born

paws me with its truth

all must be shut up once more

 

The silence in me annoys because

it no longer knows how to get through the paltry delay

before the sound that outstrips it and leads me by the hand

and this to take the outrageous form

(but I let myself be taken)

of a pen whose prow cuts

the drunken page twists itself falls back

(like a cat on its feet)

on its nose

 

To be convinced of nothing but the wake

to barely follow it so much does it stray and so little

accord with the foreseen book

and its reflection on the mirror-page where my nails are broken

from pawing scratching rubbing out

the word that takes me...

 

the breath

                  a little to take it

                                        also

the breath

                   may it run aground

                                            on the verse's haziness

 

(where is the verse?

I've lost its thread

the verse's thread

I've lost it

you see

--do you see?)

 

and the more it chases me the more I run

and the more the more it chases me the more I run

out of arguments

I find myself

lost--where am I?

before

after

the festival

took a different face

normal enough

for a carnival

nobody will complain except maybe the moon

and besides...

 

I was saying

the faces

no

traits

no longer the same

the hour has changed the festival

has taken another face my face

has taken another head

yesterday it was nighttime now it's morning tomorrow

dawn with its prose fingers vouchsafes things their

familiar ugliness

it's tomorrow and the words beneath my fingernails are black

poor not at all new the words

do they still have a mask

a final mask

an absolutely final...

 

maybe I'll never know maybe

I'll never know the festival's end

is there an end

was there, really, a festival?

 

[Translated by Eric Mader and Hui-Ling Lin.]

 

 

*****

 

Quatre jours aprs l'attentat sur New York, un typhon d'une ampleur sans prcdent s'est abattu sur Taipei, tuant plus d'une centaine de personnes, dont nul n'a parl dans le monde, non plus que des centaines de blesss, des milliers de sans-abri, des dizaines de milliers de gens qui ont tout perdu, y compris la compassion des hommes. O va le chemin du monde? O finit le chemin de l'homme?

 

 

                               Typhoon upon Taipei

 

Il pleut sur Taipei

Il pleut sur Taipei

Il pleut

il pleut

il pleut

La sueur des secondes

Les grosses larmes des minutes

Et le lourd chagrin des heures

Inondent les joues de la Terre

La poche d'eau du ciel

A crev engloutissant les jours

Et les nuits

C'est le temps tout entier qui tombe sur Taipei

 

Depuis l'Ararat du pome

Je contemple horrifi le silence qui tombe

sur Taipei

 

Dans les artres de la ville

Les hommes troncs oscillent comme des bouchons

pataugeant dans un sang jaune et tide

Ils ne voient plus leurs pieds

Ils ne voient pas leurs pas

Ni la trace de leurs pas

Ils ne marchent plus - ils drivent

Parmi les cadavres des choses englouties

O vont-ils?

D'o viennent-ils?

De nulle part vers nulle part ils drivent

Et leurs regards transparents de stupeur

Et leurs sourires tristes comme des fruits tombs

Que nul ne viendra ramasser

 

Il pleut sur Taipei toutes les larmes du sicle vagissant

Comme si on savait dj

Ici

La fin de tout ceci

 

(Le vent parti, le ciel partout, les toiles effaces, les nuages rouills, la lune oblongue et morte d'un rverbre, la nuit saisie dans la gele

du temps, et pour finir le tableau du monde dcroch)

 

Le jour est aussi silencieux que la nuit

Sur les vitres l'eau tisse

La soie d'un silence translucide

 

 

Marc Delouze

(Taipei-Paris, septembre 2001)

 

*****

 

Four days after the attack on New York, a typhoon of unprecedented force hit Taipei, killing nearly two hundred people and leaving hundreds more wounded.  Thousands were left homeless, having lost everything.  Will the compassion of men be there for them?  Where is the world's path leading?  Where does man's path end?

 

                               Typhoon upon Taipei

 

It's raining on Taipei

It's raining on Taipei

Raining

Raining

Raining

The sweat of seconds

The heavy tears of minutes

And the weighty grief of hours

Inundate Earth's cheeks

The sky's water sack

Has split

Swallowing the days

And the nights

It's time in its entirety that's falling on Taipei

 

From the Ararat of the poem

I contemplate the silence that falls

on Taipei

 

In the city's arteries

Trunks of men oscillate like corks

Floundering in a warm yellow blood

They no longer see their feet

They no longer see their steps

Nor the trace of their steps

They no longer walk--they drift

Among the corpses of things swallowed

Where are they headed?

From where do they come?

From nowhere to nowhere they drift

Their faces dulled by stupor

And their smiles sad as fallen fruit

That no one will come to gather

 

It's raining on Taipei all the century's tears wailing

As if we already knew

Right here

The end of all of this

 

(The wind gone, sky everywhere, stars effaced, clouds blighted, the moon oblong and shot dead by a street lamp, night gripped in the frost of time; finally the scene of the world is taken down)

 

Day is as silent and night

On the windows water weaves

It's translucid silence of silk

 

Marc Delouze

(Taipei-Paris, September 2001)

 

[Translated by Eric Mader.]

 

 

 

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