Poetry in Translation 3: Farewell

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Autumn was a favorite subject for Apollinaire. Here’s another.


J’ai cueilli ce brin de bruyère
L’automne est morte souviens-t’en
Nous ne nous verrons plus sur terre
Odeur du temps Brin de bruyère
Et souviens-toi que je t’attends

Guillaume Apollinaire


I have plucked this sprig of heather
The fall is dead you must remember
We won’t meet on earth again ever
A whiff of time a sprig of heather
I wait for you, you must remember

tr. Jonathan Van Matre

Poetry in Translation 2: Sickly Autumn

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Automne Malade

Automne malade et adoré
Tu mourras quand l’ouragan soufflera dans les roseraies
Quand il aura neigé
Dans les vergers

Pauvre automne
Meurs en blancheur et en richesse
De neige et de fruits mûrs
Au fond du ciel
Des éperviers planent
Sur les nixes nicettes aux cheveux verts et naines
Qui n’ont jamais aimé

Aux lisières lointaines
Les cerfs ont bramé

Et que j’aime ô saison que j’aime tes rumeurs
Les fruits tombant sans qu’on les cueille
Le vent et la forêt qui pleurent
Toutes leurs larmes en automne feuille à feuille
Les feuilles
Qu’on foule
Un train
Qui roule
La vie

Guillaume Apollinaire

Sickly Autumn

Autumn sickly and adored
You will die when the windstorm blows in the rose gardens
When snow has fallen
In the orchards

Poor autumn
Dying in whiteness and wealth
Of snow and swollen fruit
As in the depth of the sky
Sparrow hawks glide
Above naive nymphs, green-haired and stunted,
Who have never loved

At the distant forest edges
The stags have bellowed

And how I love O season how I love your murmurs
The falling fruit that no one gathers
The wind and the forest that weep
All their tears in autumn leaf by leaf
The leaves
we trample
A train

tr. Jonathan Van Matre

Poetry in Translation 1: Petite Cascade

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Petite Cascade

Nymphe, se revêtant toujours
de ce qui la dénude,
que ton corps s’exalte pour
l’onde ronde et rude.

Sans repos tu changes d’habit,
même de chevelure;
derrière tant de fuite, ta vie
reste présence pure.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Petite Cascade1

Nymph, always dressing again
in those garments newly shed,
how your body exalts itself
to a wave, rough and round.

Restlessly you change your clothes,
even the tumble of your hair;
trailing an excess of escapes, your life
remains pure presence.

tr. Jonathan Van Matre


  1. I resist the temptation to translate just for the sake of having done something.

Innumerable Hexagons

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By: Paolo Trabattoni

Judge Denny Chin, accepting Google’s request for summary judgment on November 14 and finding that Google Books is fair use in a ruling that shows surprising consideration for “the Progress of Science and useful Arts” 1:

In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits.

Google benefits foremost, of course, but the basis of this ruling on a clear finding of fair use is cause for genuine elation. If it’s fair use for Google to do it, it’s fair use for anyone–your local library, a university library, the Library of Congress, Wikipedia, the Gates Foundation, or a non-profit as yet unincorporated—to continue the work of making from all of humanity’s textual output a common corpus that is open to inquiry by all.

Imagine an institution founded on both the ideals of the Library of Alexandria and the ridiculous infinitude of Borges’s Library of Babel: all texts in all languages, open to all and searchable by all in any language.

“Innumerable hexagons.”2

It makes me giddy.

  1. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution 

  2. La biblioteca de Babel (The Library Of Babel), Jorge Luis Borges