Collected French Translations: Poetry

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 4/8/2014
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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An essential, vibrant collection of masterful translations by one of the finest poets at work today

Collected French Translations: Poetry,half of a long-awaited two-volume collection of translations by America's foremost living poet, surveys John Ashbery's lifelong love of French poetry. Beginning in 1955, Ashbery spent nearly a decade in France, working as an art critic in Paris and forming a relationship with the poet Pierre Martory. His translations of Martory's poems, featured here, were collected in The Landscapist, a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2008 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry.

In this volume, Ashbery presents a wide selection of France's finest poets: Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, Paul Éluard, and its greatest living poet, Yves Bonnefoy. A rich array of 171 poems by twenty-four poets, this bilingual volume also features a selection from Ashbery's masterly translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations. The development of modern French poetry emerges through Ashbery's chronology, as does the depth of French influences on his iconoclastic career and the poets of the New York School. Collected together for the first time, Ashbery's translations represent decades of remarkable work from the writer hailed by Harold Bloom as a part of the "American sequence that includes Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, and Hart Crane."

Author Biography

John Ashbery’s latest book of poems is Quick Question. From 1960 to 1965, he was the International Herald Tribune art critic and ArtNews Paris correspondent. France has named him Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and Officier of the Légion d’Honneur. He has received a National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and President Obama awarded him a National Humanities Medal. Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie’s latest poetry book is Psyche and Amor. They have edited Ashbery’s essays in Other Traditions and in Selected Prose, as well as his translations of Pierre Martory. She teaches at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; he is the director of writing at Pace University.

Table of Contents


"Curious Resemblances": Ashbery Translates French Poetry by Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie

Six sonnets from Le Mespris de la vie et consolation contre la mort
Six sonnets from The Vanity of Life and Consolation Against Death
V. Assies toy sur le bort d'une ondante riviere . . .
V. Seat yourself on the edge of a wavy river . . .
VI. Ce qui semble perir se change seulement . . .
VI. What seems to perish only changes itself . . .
XVII. L'hyver ameine il la mordante froidure . . .
XVII. Does Winter bring on the biting cold . . .
XVIII. Tantost la crampe aus piés, tantost la goute aus mains . . .
XVIII. Sometimes with cramps in the feet . . .
CCXVI. Pendant que tu bastis des chasteaus en Espaigne . . .
CCXVI. While you are building castles in Spain . . .
CCXL. Les poissons escaillez aiment les moites eaus . . .
CCXL. Scaly fish love the moist waters . . .


From Recueil de "Nursery Rhymes"
From Collected "Nursery Rhymes"
Preface by John Ashbery
Leçon n° 4
Lesson No. 4
Leçon n° 5
Lesson No. 5
Leçon n° 6
Lesson No. 6
Leçon n° 7
Lesson No. 7
Leçon n° 8
Lesson No. 8
Leçon n° 9
Lesson No. 9
Leçon n° 10
Lesson No. 10
Leçon n° 11
Lesson No. 11
Leçon n° 12
Lesson No. 12
Leçon n° 13
Lesson No. 13
Leçon n° 14
Lesson No. 14
Leçon n° 15
Lesson No. 15
Leçon n° 16
Lesson No. 16
Leçon n° 17
Lesson No. 17
Leçon n° 18
Lesson No. 18
Leçon n° 19
Lesson No. 19
Leçon n° 31
Lesson No. 31
Leçon n° 32
Lesson No. 32
Leçon n° 99
Lesson No. 99
Leçon n° 100
Lesson No. 100
Leçon n° 101
Lesson No. 101

ARTHUR RIMBAUD (1854-1891)
Après le Déluge
After the Flood

MAX JACOB (1876-1944)
From Le Cornet à dés
From The Dice-Cup I
Mémoires de l'espion
The Spy's Memoirs
Poème dans un goût qui n'est pas le mien
Poem in a Style Which Is Not Mine
Le Chapeau de paille d'Italie
The Italian Straw Hat
La Rue Ravignan
The Rue Ravignan
Traduit de l'Allemand ou du Bosniaque
Translated from the German or the Bosnian
Sans titre
Moeurs littéraires
Literary Manners
La Marée n'attend pas
Time and Tide Wait for No Man
La Tante, la tarte et le chapeau
The Aunt, the Tart and the Hat
Roman d'aventures
Adventure Novel
La Situation des bonnes au Mexique
The Situation of Maidservants in Mexico
Mutuel mépris des castes
Mutual Contempt of the Castes
Autre point de droit
Another Point of Law
La Mendiante de Naples
The Beggar Woman of Naples
Au pays des collines
In the Hill Country
Le Nom
The Name
Le Centaure
The Centaur
Il n'y a pas de valet de chambre pour un grand homme
A Great Man Needs No Valet
Erreurs de la miséricorde
Errors of Mercy
Ils ne reviendront plus
They Won't Come Back Again
Certains dédains et pas les autres
Certain Disdains and Not the Others
Vie et mare
Life and Tide
Le Bibliophile
The Bibliophile
Littérature et poésie
Literature and Poetry
La maison du poète
The Poet's House
From Le Cornet à dés II
From The Dice-Cup II
Famille modern
Modern Family
Charlot au bord de la mer
Charlie Chaplin at the Seashore

47, Boulevard Lannes
47, Boulevard Lannes
À Lautréamont
To Lautréamont
The Lane
Beau monstre de la nuit, palpitant de ténèbres . . .
Beautiful monster of the night, quivering with darkness . . .
Dans l'oubli de mon corps
In the Forgetfulness of My Body

ARTHUR CRAVAN (1887-ca. 1918)
Des Paroles
Some Words
Langueur d'éléphant
Elephant Languor

PIERRE REVERDY (1889-1960)
The Route
Ce souvenir
That Memory
Clair hiver
Clear Winter
Pointe de l'aile
Tip of the Wing
Messager de la tyrannie
Messenger of Tyranny
Plus lourd
. . . S'entre-bâille
. . . Is Ajar
Le Pavé de cristal
The Crystal Cobblestone
D'une autre rive
From Another Shore
Un Tas de gens
A Lot of People
Voyages sans fin
Endless Journeys
Encore l'amour
Love Again
The Invasion

Le nuage distribue sa pluie avec impartialité . . .
The cloud distributes its rain impartially . . .

PAUL ELUARD (1895-1952)
Le Mal
The Evil
Le Front couvert
The Covered Forehead
Le Pont Brisé
The Broken Bridge

PAUL ELUARD (1895-1952) and ANDRÉ BRETON (1896-1966)
La Vie intra-utérine
Intra-Uterine Life
Essai de simulation du délire d'interprétation
An Attempt to Simulate the Delirium of Interpretation
Il n'y a rien d'incompréhensible
There Is Nothing Incomprehensible
Le Jugement original
The Original Judgment

PAUL ELUARD (1895-1952) and RENÉ CHAR (1907-1988)

ROBERT GANZO (1898-1995)
Encroué dans les hautes branches . . .
Caught in the high branches . . .

FRANCIS PONGE (1899-1988)
The Insignificant
La Bougie
The Candle

JEAN FOLLAIN (1903-1971)
Les Accidents
The Accidents
Indifférence du bricoleur
The Handyman's Indifference
Les Portraits
The Portraits

ARMEN LUBIN (1903-1974)
Les Logis provisoires
Temporary Lodgings

RENÉ CHAR (1907-1988)
Joue et dors . . .
Play and Sleep
Les Seigneurs de Maussane
The Lords of Maussane
Front de la rose
Forehead of the Rose
La Chambre dans l'espace
The Room in Space

RENÉ DAUMAL (1908-1944)
Toujours en vain
Always in Vain
L'hiver fait monter les fourmis . . .
Winter makes the ants climb . . .

PIERRE MARTORY (1920-1998)
À partir de . . .
From Here
On . . .
Prose des Buttes-Chaumont
Prose des Buttes-Chaumont
Retour des oiseaux
Return of the Birds
Toten Insel
Toten Insel
Ma Chandelle est morte
Ma Chandelle est morte
En bas des marches
At the Bottom of the Steps
Le Paysage est derriere la porte
The Landscape Is Behind the Door
Sous l'orme
Under the Elm
Un Dimanche à Monfort l'Amaury
A Sunday in Monfort l'Amaury
Diamant noir
Black Diamond
Lac rouge et noir
Red and Black Lake
Le Paysagiste
The Landscapist
Nocturne américain
American Nocturne
Récitatif et Air des larmes
Recitative and Aria of the Tears
Oh, lac . . .
Oh, Lake . . .
L'Heure de musique
The Hour of Music

From "Théâtre"
From "Theater"
XIV Je vois Douve étendue . . .
XIV I see Douve stretched out . . .
XVII Le ravin pénètre dans la bouche maintenant . . .
XVII The ravine penetrates the mouth now . . .
From "Vrai lieu"
From "Real Location"
Vrai lieu du cerf
The Real Location of the Stag

de charbon
of coal
la nouvelle république
the new republic
(relire ce qui est écrit) . . .
(reread what is written) . . .

En effet cet oiseau combien n'ai-je pas eu . . .
As a matter of fact that bird how many . . .
Les larmes donnant à penser qu'il est des . . .
Tears allowing one to think that there are . . .
Les organes des sens arrosés . . .
The sensory organs watered . . .
From "Éros énergumène"
From "Eros Gone Wild"
Il se remet à penser à cette gorge venue du Nord . . .
He is beginning to think again about that bosom come from the North . . .
Au début des petits bruits de percussion s'élevaient . . .
In the beginning, little noises of percussion arose . . .

From Expositions et affabulations
From Demonstrations and Fabulations
Les yeux clos, les dents serrées . . .
Her eyes shut, her teeth clenched . . .
Malgré le système de doubles clés . . .
Despite the system of dual keys . . .
Quant tu seras bien vieille . . .
When you are very old . . .
From Désplacements
From Displacements
Je me vois d'abord . . .
First I see myself . . .
La guerre économique . . .
The economic war . . .
La mort est plus légère . . .
Death is gentler . . .
Des enfants, nous étions des enfants . . .
Children, we were children . . .
Les premières images de ma vie . . .
The first images of my life . . .
Un reportage télévisé . . .
A television program . . .
Toutes les villes, tous les lieux . . .
All the cities, all the places . . .
La foule de l'exposition internationale . . .
The crowd swarms through the international exposition
Les pommes que l'on croquait . . .
The apples we bit into . . .
Il pleut sur la ville . . .
It's raining on the city . . .

La récitation de l'oubli
The Recitation of Forgetting
L'Arbre nu
The Naked Tree
Les Gués, les passes
Fords, Channels
Le Wagon d'or
The Gold Boxcar

Dans les salons ouverts et fleuris . . .
In the spacious and flower-decked salons . . .
Le Lit Murphy
The Murphy Bed
Je regarderai . . .
I will look at . . .
Note by John Ashbery

Appendix 1. Translations with Missing Original French Texts
From "Eros Gone Wild"
The woman docile to see me drinking, the heroic patience . . .
The emblem remarkable for more than one good reason descends . . .
When the dust settles (and the dew goes away) . . .
In the stale lake, in the other circumstances . . .
But unaware and destructive measure, lively . . .
European girl who must be pretty, can you de- . . .
The sack of vipers from the roof over a space of twenty meters . . .
At the breakup of the thousand canals, the posts in white. . . .

Para Siempre Teresita? . . .
Luck is now sent to you . . .
Appendix 2. Chronology of First Publication Dates of Translations
Index of Titles, First Lines, and Poets

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