Friday, October 9, 2009

A Translation

Hardware Store

In a provincial hardware store
Men go to pick out nuts and bolts.
Their hair is grey, their hair is red
Or parted or yet disarranged.

The large store’s air has a blue hue.
Into its ferrous odor there
Young females permit to escape
Their corporeal perfumes.

Enough to touch the bars, reticulated grids
Sold there in a virginal state
To feel the weight of the world ineluctable.

The store thus sails toward eternity
And sells to satiation
Big lustrous nails.

Jean Follain, The Use of Time, 1941

In my present, preoccupied state of mind—proofing and editing novels—this blog is not getting the attention it should. Therefore I present a poem that, a while, back I translated from the French. The occasion for doing so does not wish to come back to me. Needless to say, it is better in French, but I think I've managed to catch a little of the flavor of the original. For some reason translating poetry gives me a big kick.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't get a chance to comment the first time I read it, but I did want to mention how much I liked this poem.

    One thought that occurred to me as I reread it is that the timeless feel of this sort of hardware store as it "sail(ed) towards eternity" that I once felt has been replaced now with the sense that this is an endangered species, threatened daily with extinction by a big-box behemoth.

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