T (no first name) Wignesan


Nothing To Hide, Translation Of A Coeur Ouvert, Poem by Rene Etiemble


For Jeannine

(Later in life, Etiemble suppressed his first name, ostensibly on account of the accented “é” ending his first name and preceding the accented “é” of his surname. The poem is dedicated to his second wife: Jeannine Kohn who taught literature at the University of Tours and survived the world-renowned Sorbonne comparatist in 2002. See my poem on Etiemble, titled: “Front door, side door, back door: Which door might the Confucian take? ” in PoetrySoup.com, PoemHunter.com, OccupyPoetry.net, ZCommunications.org, etc. This poem, one of a dozen or less which have survived a “fire”, according to the poet in a 1988 video-interview with the famous literary journalist: Bernard Pivot, is from his only poetry collection: le Coeur et la cendre: soixante ans de poésie.)

The steps taken close to you in the forests,
the steps mounted thanks to you even higher in me,
have at last enabled me to descend into my true self
far from the summits and peaks where I strained
to reach the sublime and the eternal snow:
delusional eternity, as much as in these books,
where out of my essence only the waste I let go,
and where I couldn’t free myself of infantile fantasies
safe for the pitiably only end in order to somewhat survive.
Today more than in days gone by, fodder of this deaf existence!
What matters to me is to live with you: only with you.
A thousand glory years of mine – of a sudden – I’ll exchange
for just a day longer in your hands, in your eyes,
in your hair: and through these the sweet scent of stew!
For you will have yet for the upteenth time taught me
that true love never resembles l’Hâmour*;
that it draws us to the earth and flings us into the sea;
that it cultivates lowlinesses, illnesses,
that the cries of sufferance and those of voluptuousness
mix by rustling in the darkness of our days;
that the cross to bear matters to lovers
that we are, a married couple, in this waking dream
far more than the affected smile of “White teeth”!
If by chance their eternity were to exist,
I’d make little of them by cursing myself to death
and in this way to have you betrayed after fifteen years,
of bodies, of spirit, of loyal hearts, but of a love
and of ill-chosen words which plastered you with wounds
which made me suffer far more than if I were inflicted with
abscesses and ulcers,
a love that I enjoyed better by far than follies
which I had inanely sublimated into wisdom
epicurean. In fact that of eternity: the void.
I will therefore never have the time to punish myself
for this lapse in my love: by my death.

(at Broussais,1977)

* “A Coeur ouvert”: literally “Open heart”.
* Hâmour: A French surname and/or a select brand of tea and coffee. I must confess I can’t quite make out its connotations, if any, in its comparison with “true love” in the same line unless of course the comparison is made to stand out against something of ephemeral value.

© T. Wignesan – Paris,2014

Submitted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Edited: Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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