29 ago. 2005

After Michael Palmer

André Breton has been elected president.
He proclaims La République Surréaliste,

which it already was.
Mentira, mentira, mentira

mutter the jays,
If only they knew!

I've stolen your thunder.
I've stolen the milk from your coffee.


Here's the original Palmer poem. I've translated it into "Mayhew"; don't ask me why. That's what I do: create a counterdiscourse when I'm reading. Palmer's beautiful poem deserves better treatment:


The perfect half-moon
of lies over the capital

Crooks and fools in power what's new
and our search has begun for signs of spring

Maybe those two bluebirds
flashing past the hawthorn yesterday

Against that, the jangle of the spoon in a cup
and a child this day swept out to sea

MP. from "Company of Moths."

Send me your short poem and I'll translate it. I'll rewrite it the way I would have done it, and destroy it in the process.

6 comentarios:

Stuart Greenhouse dijo...

I don't know, Jonathan, I like yours too--though I wouldn't mind an explication of how you derived it from MP's. What I mean is, to my eye, the salient qualities of each are: Your lines loop back into themselves, while his keep looking forward, on the strength of questioning predecessors (Shelley, Auden).

Jonathan dijo...

I took "Crooks and fools in power" and changed it André Breton in power. That is, the surrealist poet-dictator is in power, wanting to change things to make them more in accordance with his own will, but things will stay more or less the same with the "poets" in charge. I changed the bluebirds to jays, who are commenting on the situation: "It's all lies." (lies over the capital). "I've stolen your thunder" has to do with my wish to supplant the original author of the poem, I suppose. I've stolen the milk from his coffee with its jangling spoon.

This is how I would approach a similar kind of "subject matter." Insert a more mordant, self-reflective critique. I certainly wouldn't imainge myself writing "lies over the capital" or "search for signs of spring."

C. Dale dijo...

This is very weird and very cool. I like the Mayhew translation more than the original.

Jonathan dijo...

Thanks. Modesty prevents me from agreeing with you. But thanks.

C. Dale dijo...

Fuck Modesty.

Jonathan dijo...

Yeah, fuck it. I'm better than that Palmer guy! Who is is he anyway with his 15 books translated into 25 languages?