Monday, March 29, 2010


for Max Jacob

Toward Rosemonde’s palace in the depth of Dream
My reveries step out barefoot to their revelery
A king’s gift the palace like a naked king rises
Whipped flesh and rose garden roses

In the garden’s depths we see my thoughts
Smiling at the concert the frogs are performing
They fancy the cypress trees those big distaffs
And the sun the roses’ mirror is shattered

Bleeding stigmatized hands pressing the windows
What archer wounded by sunset punctured them
The resin that renders the wines of Cypress bitter
My mouth has tasted this at the white lamb’s love-feast

Sitting on the adulterous king’s pointed knees
In her May years and dressed to the nines
Lady Rosemonde rolls her small round eyes
With mysterious air like the eyes of the Huns

Lady of my thoughts asshole of natural pearl
Neither pearl nor asshole can match the Orient
Who do you await
Reveries marching toward the Orient
My loveliest neighbors

Knock knock Come into the waiting room day closes
In shadows the night-light's a baked gold gem
Hang your heads by their braids on the hat-pegs
Sky nearly nocturnal glints with needles

We entered the dining room our nostrils
Filled with the odor of burnt lard & phlegm
We had twenty soups three the color of urine
And the king had two poached eggs in broth

Then the kitchen boys brought in the meat
Roasts of thoughts that died in my brain
My lovely stillborn dreams in underdone rashers
And my gamey memories in meat pies

Now these thoughts dead for millenia
Had the bland taste of frozen mammoths
Bones or dreamers came from the bone-yard
In a dance of death along my cerebellum’s folds

And all these meats shouted unheard of things
        But by God!
        Famished stomachs lack ears
And the guests all tried to out-chew each other

By God! cried the sirloins then
Those big meat pies marrowbones beef stews
Tongues of fire where are my pentacosts
My thoughts of all lands and all times

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Crocuses

The meadow is lethal though lovely in autumn
The cows grazing there
Are slowly poisoned
The crocus its color like circles under eyes like lilacs
Blooms there your eyes are like that flower
Violet like their circles and like autumn
And for your eyes' sake my life’s slowly poisoned

School children come making a fracas
Dressed in jackets playing harmonicas
They pick the crocuses that seem like mothers
Daughters of their daughters and colored like your lashes
That flutter as flowers flutter in a crazy breeze

The guardian of that flock sings sweetly
While slowly and lowing the cows leave
Forever that meadow autumn made bloom evilly

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Song Of The Poorly-Loved

for Paul Léautaud

So I sang this ballad
In 1903 not knowing
If my love resembled
A lovely Phoenix dying at evening
Morning will see it rise again

One misty London evening
Some hoodlum who resembled
My love came up to me
And shot me such a glance
I lowered my eyes in shame

I followed this punk who was
Whistling his hands in his pockets
Between houses that appeared like
The Red Sea’s parted waters
I was Pharaoh he the Hebrews

May these waves of bricks crash down
If you were not dearly loved
I am the lord of Egypt
His sister-queen his army
If you are not my only love

At a street corner set ablaze

With lamplight from every window
Wounds in the bloody fog
Where the windows were lamenting
Was a woman who looked like her

The same heartless gaze
And scar across her bare throat
She staggered smashed from a bar
It was then I recognized
Love’s falsehood

When wise Ulysses at last
Found his way to his homeland
His aged dog remembered him
And by a finely woven cloth
His wife awaited his return

Shakuntula’s royal spouse
Weary of conquests rejoiced
When he returned to find her
Wasted from waiting misty-eyed
Stroking her male gazelle

I thought of these happy kings
When this false beloved and she
I was in love with still
Collided shadow to shadow
Rendering me so unhappy

Hell’s built on such regrets o
If only the skies would obliterate my vows
For her kiss the kings of this world
Would die the destitute renowned
Would sell their shadows for her

I’ve wintered inside my past
Come again Easter sun
And thaw a heart more icy
Than the forty of Sebaste
Who weren’t martyred as much as my life

O memory my fair ship
Have we sailed far enough
Across these bitter waters
Have we strayed far enough
From lovely dawn toward cheerless evening

Farewell false love I mistook
For the woman who’s gone away
For the one I lost
In Germany last year
The one I will see no more

Milky way o shining sister
Of Canaan’s white rivers
And lovers’ white bodies
We dead swimmers shall follow
Your course toward other nebulas

I recall another year
An April morning at dawn
I sang my beloved joy
A love song in a manly voice
In love’s own season


It’s spring come little Daisy
And stroll the fair woodlands
Hens cackle in the barnyard
Dawn fills the sky with rosy folds
Love comes forth to win thee

Mars and Venus have returned
Their lips maddened they’re embracing
In the midst of innocent places
Where beneath the leafening roses
Fair rosy gods dance naked

Come sweetness you’re the queen
Of this blossoming
Nature’s lovely and touching
Pan’s whistling throughout the forest
And damp frogs are singing

Most of these gods have perished
The willows are weeping for them
Great Pan      Love      Jesus Christ
Are all dead the tomcats are howling
In the yard I’m weeping in Paris

I who know lays made for queens

The sad strains of my days
Hymns slaves made to the moray
The ballad of the poorly-loved
And songs for the sirens

Love’s dead I’m trembling for it

I adore these lovely idols
Memories that resemble her
And like Mausolus’ wife
I remain faithful and grieving

I’m faithful as a mastiff

To its master as ivy to the bough
And as the Zaprogian Cossacks
Those pious drunks and thieves
To the steppes and the ten commandments

Bear like a yoke this Crescent

Which the astrologers consult
I am omnipotent Sultan

O Zaprogian Cossacks

I am your dazzling Overlord

Become my faithful subjects
The Sultan wrote to them
They laughed at this bit of news
And wrote a response right away
By the light of a candle


Bigger crook than Barrabas
Horned like the rebel angels
What sort of Beelzebub are you
Reared on filth and muck
We won’t show up for your sabbaths

Rotten fish of Salonika
Long necklace of nightmares about
Eyes ripped out in a fit of spite
Your mother let a wet fart
And you were born in her colic

Butcher of Podolia Lover of
Sores and ulcers and scabs
Pig’s snout horse’s ass
Better hang onto your riches
To pay for your medication

Milky way o shining sister
Of Canaan’s white rivers
And lovers’ white bodies
We dead swimmers shall follow
Your course toward other nebulas

Remorseful as a whore’s eyes
And gorgeous as a panther
Love your Florentine kisses
Leave a bitter taste
Disheartening our fates

Her gaze leaves behind a train
Of stars through trembling evenings
Sirens swim in her eyes
And our furious bloody kisses
Make our fairy godmothers cry

But really I’m waiting for her
With my heart and my soul
And if that women ever returns
On the bridge of Come-Back-to-me
I’ll say to her I am content

My heart and my head are empty
All the heavens flow through them
Such sieves of the Danaïdes
How can one become happy
As a innocent little child

I wish to never forget her
My dove my white lagoon
My daisy stripped of petals
My far off isle my Désirade
My rose my tree of cloves

Satyrs and pyraustas
Aegipans and will-o-the-wisps
And cursed or faustly fates
A noose around the neck as at Calais
What a holocaust for my grief

Grief that doubles fates
Unicorn and capricorn
My soul and my indistinct body
Flee from you divine butcher
Adorned with stars and morning’s blossoms

Pale god Misery with ivory eyes
Have your crazy priests appareled you
Have your black robed victims
Wept in vain
Misery’s a god not to be trusted

And you who crawl behind me
God of my gods that died in autumn
How much earth have you surveyed
For my body’s rightful place
My shadow o my old serpent

I led you beloved remember
Into the sunlight you cherish
Shadowy wife I love
You are mine by being nothing
My shadow dressed in mourning for myself

Winter’s dead buried in snow
They’ve burnt the white hives
In the gardens in the vineyards
Birds on the boughs are singing
Bright springtime gentle April

Death of deathless argyraspids
The snow with silver shields
Flees the ashen dendrophori of
Springtime that poor folk cherish
Who smile again their eyes moist

And my heart is as heavy

As a Damascus lady’s ass
O love I loved you too much
And now I’m in too much pain
The seven swords are unsheathed

Seven swords of melancholy

And jagged edged o bright griefs
Enter my heart and insanity
Wishes to speak for my misery
Can you expect me to forget


The first is all of silver
Its quivering name is Paline
Its blade a snowy winter sky
Its fate bloody and ghibelline
Vulcan died forging it

The second named Humpback
Is a fair joyful rainbow
Wielded by gods at their weddings
It has slain thirty swashbucklers
And has powers bestowed by Carabosse

The third blue and womanish
Is nonetheless a Chipriape
That’s called Lul of Faltenin
And is borne upon a cloth
By Earnest Hermes who’s now a dwarf

The fourth Fortuna
Is a green golden river
In evening when riverwomen
Bathe their adorable bodies
And the rower’s songs linger

The fifth Saint Fibber
Is the fairest distaff
Is a cypress tree on a grave
Where the four winds kneel
Each night it becomes a torch

The sixth is glory’s metal
The friend with such tender hands
From whom each dawn parts us
Farewell your road lies yonder
Cocks wear themselves out with their fanfares

And the seventh’s languid
A woman a dead rose
I’m thankful the last has come
Close the door on my love
I never knew you

Milky way o shining sister
Of Canaan’s white rivers
And lovers’ white bodies
We dead swimmers shall follow
Your course toward other nebulas

The heavens proclaim in song

That the demons of chance lead us on

To lost tones their violins

Spur the human race to dance

Down its backwards descent

Fates inscrutable fates

Kings shaken by folly
And quavering stars
False women sharing your beds
In deserts crushed by history

The old prince regent Luitpold

Tutor of two mad rulers
Does he sob recalling them
While glowworms flicker
Midsummer Night’s gilded flies

Near a castle without a chatelaine

The bark with lilting barcaroles
Across a white lake through the breath

Of springtime’s trembling breezes
Went sailing a dying swan a siren

One day the king drowned himself

Open-mouthed in the silver water
And then returned floating
To sleep inert on the shore
Face turned toward the changing heavens

June your burning lyre

Scorches my aching fingers
Sad melodious rapture
I’m wandering toward fair Paris
Without the heart to die there

Sundays last forever there

And barrel organs
Sob in drab courtyards
Flowers on Paris balconies
Lean like the Tower of Pisa

Paris evenings high on gin

Ablaze with electricity
Trolleys their spines sparking green
Are playing along the track’s stave
Music of mechanical folly

Cafes swollen with smoke
Cry their gypsy love
From runny-nosed siphons
And waiters in loincloth aprons
Toward you I loved so deeply

I who know lays made for queens
The sad strains of my days
Hymns slaves sang to the moray
The ballad of the poorly-loved
And songs for the sirens

translated by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mirabeau Bridge

Under the Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine
And our love
        Must I recall
Joy always followed after pain

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

Hand in hand let’s linger face to face
While beneath
        The bridge of our embrace
The weary swell of timeless glances flows

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

Love moves on like that current
Love moves on
        How slow life seems
And Expectation how violent

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

Days pass on then the weeks pass on
Neither past times
        Nor loves shall come again
Under the Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010


In the end you’re weary of this ancient world

Shepherdess o Eiffel Tower the flock of bridges is bleating
        this morning

You’ve lived long enough amongst ancient Romans and Greeks

Here even the automobiles look obsolete
Religion alone remains brand new religion
Remains simple as the hangars at Port Aviation

In Europe only you Christianity aren’t antique
The most modern European is you Pope Pius X
And you whom windows watch shame restrains you
From walking into a church and making confession
You read handbills catalogs ads that sing out loud
Here’s poetry this morning and as for prose there’s the papers
There are dime novels full of detectives
Portraits of great men and thousands of other titles

I saw this morning a fine street whose name I’ve forgotten
Fresh and clean it was the sun’s clarion
Bosses workers and lovely secretaries
Monday morning to Saturday evening walk there four times a day
Three time there each morning the siren moans
A hot-tempered bell bays about noon
Lettering on billboards and walls
And door-plates and notices shriek like parrots
I love the charm of this factory street
Located in Paris between rue Aumont-Thiéville and the avenue
        des Ternes

There’s the young street and you still a little child
Your mother dresses you only in blue and white
You’re very pious and with your oldest pal René Dalize
You love nothing as much as church ceremonies
It’s nine o’clock the gas flickers blue you sneak out of the
You pray all night in the school chapel
While Christ’s flaming glory
Revolves forever divine and eternal an amethyst depth
It’s the lovely lily all of us raise
The redheaded torch the wind won’t blow out
Pale and vermillion son of the sorrowful mother

The tree always bushy with prayers
The double power of eternity and honor
The star with six branches

God who dies Friday and is resurrected Sunday
It’s Christ who lifts off better than aviators
He holds the world record for height

Christ pupil of the eye
Twentieth pupil of the centuries he knows what to do
And turns this century into a bird like Jesus ascending the
Devils in the abyss raise their heads to watch
They say It’s imitating Simon Magus
They say if it takes flight call it a fugitive
Angels flutter around the acrobat
Icarus Enoch Elijah Apollonius of Tyana
Hover around the first airplane
Now and then they scatter to let those bearing the Sacred
        Eucharist pass
Priests ascending eternally elevating the host
The plane lands at last without folding its wings
The sky’s filled then with swallows by the millions
In a flash crows falcons owls appear
Ibises storks and flamingos arrive from Africa
The Roc celebrated in story and song
Soars grasping the skull of Adam in its talons
The eagle swoops screeching over the horizon
From America comes the little hummingbird
From China come the pihi birds both long and supple
That have a single wing and fly coupled

And here’s the dove the holy spirit
Escorting the lyre bird and the ocellated peacock
The phoenix that self-creating pyre
For an instant veils everything with its ardent ash
The three sirens leaving their perilous perch
Come singing their lovely song
And all of them eagle phoenix and Chinese pihi
Fraternize with the flying machine

Right now you’re strolling alone through Paris amidst the
Herds of bellowing buses go rolling past
Love’s anguish has got you by the throat
As if you’ll never be loved again
In the old day you would have entered a monastery
You’re ashamed when you catch yourself saying a prayer
You make fun of yourself your laughter crackles like hellfire
Your laughter’s sparks gild the depths of your life

It’s a painting hung in a dim museum
And time to time you go there to see it up close

Today you’re walking through Paris the women are bloody
Something I’d rather not recall it was during the decline of

Surrounded by fervent flames Our Lady beheld me at Chartres
Blood of your Sacred Heart inundated me at Montmartre
I’m sick of hearing blessed words
The love I endure is like syphilis
And the image that possesses you keeps you alive through
        insomnia and anguish
Passing image always at your side

Right now you’re at the Mediterranean shore
Under lemon trees that stay in blossom all year
You go boating with your friends
One from Nice one from Menton and two from La Turbie
Fearful we observe the octopi of the deep
And through the seaweed swim fish the Savior’s image

You’re in a inn garden outside Prague
You’re completely happy a rose lies on the table
And rather than write your tale in prose
You observe the chafer asleep in the heart of the rose

Appalled you see yourself traced in St Vitus’ agates
You were downcast the day you saw yourself there
You looked like Lazarus bewildered by daylight
The hands of the Jewish quarter’s clock run backwards
And you step back slowly too in your life
Climbing to Hradchin and in the evening
Listening to Czech songs in the taverns

Here you are in Marseilles amongst watermelons

Here you are in Coblenz at the Hotel of the Giant

Here you are in Rome under a Japanese crabapple tree

Here you are in Amsterdam with a gal you find pretty who’s ugly
She’s engaged to a student from Leyden
They rent rooms there in Latin Cubicula locanda
I recall I spent three days there and three in Gouda

You’re in Paris arraigned by the magistrate
Under arrest like a common criminal

You undertook both sad and pleasant travels
Before you understood lies and age
You suffered from love at both twenty and thirty
I’ve lived like a fool and wasted my time
You don’t dare look at your hands at such moments I want to sob
Over you the one I love over everything you find horrible

You watch your eyes filled with tears these wretched emigrants
They believe in God they pray their women bear children
Their odor fills the lobby of Saint-Lazare station
They follow their star like the three wise men
They hope to find silver in Argentina
And return to their homeland having made a fortune
A family transports a red quilt as you transport your heart
That quilt and your dreams are both unreal
Some emigrants remain here and rent rooms
On Rue des Rosiers or rue des Écouffes in the slums
I’ve often seen them evenings they take the air
And like chessmen rarely ever move far
Mostly they’re Jews their wives wear wigs
And sit anemic in the back of shops

You’re standing at a crapulous bar
You get a coffee for two bits amongst the losers

It’s night you’re in a great restaurant

These women aren’t wicked of course they have their worries
All of them even the ugliest have made their lovers suffer

She’s the daughter of a constable from the Isle of Jersey

I haven’t seen her hands they’re rough and chapped

I feel enormous pity for the scars on her belly

Now I humble my mouth to a whore with a horrible laugh

You’re alone the day’s breaking
Milkmen are clinking their bottles through the streets

Night leaves like a dark-skinned beauty
Ferdine the false or else attentive Leah

And you’re drinking this burning liquor like your life
The life you drink like spirits

You’re walking toward Auteuil you’re going home on foot
To sleep amongst fetishes from Oceania and Guinea
Christs of other forms and other beliefs
Lesser Christs of dim hopes

Farewell farewell

Sun slit throat

Guillaume Apollinaire
translation © Jack Hayes 1990-2010