21 May, 2012


At their desks the translators pray
on early winter afternoons.
Sonatas seep in from the other room.
A door opens and in slips the cat,
whose eyes an infuriating green,
are later seen at a misting pane
by an immobile owl outside.
Behind the hunched-over translators
the moon makes its first rough sketch
on the back of the sky.
From dark bushes birds sweep
the last flurries of song.
Inside, the translators of Baudelaire
bail out their precarious craft.
Their navigation is rudimentary.
No fabled tributary leads to gold –
the way is less clear, everything a deception.
The jungle of living language is shrieking,
beasts are prowling the steep slopes of rhyme.
Every possibility wrestles with decay.
Above, the heavens flaunt their stars,
overwhelming and pure, ice that holes
the skiff carrying the anguished brain
before the mighty march past of the
Your mind
a log that turns in sluggish currents.
a line of heroes, you the translator
are violating in too hasty an honouring.
You hold out your hand, but theirs is a glove
filled with air, the heart answer is elsewhere.
A hospital ward airing in spring.
Lines of metal beds on which lie cripples,
the translators of Baudelaire.
Doctors lean over the faintly twitching forms.
Famished veins quiver at the slightest chance
of a new approach. Perhaps now…
Into the original they dive again
and like flowers bent by rain they rise,
assured they will be the ones to bear
the irresistible bloom.

~ ~ Will Stone

From Glaciation (Salt Publishing, 2008).
With permission.