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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hell Reek Like Home

Beckett fact no. 88.

I’ve always been partial to those fine versified aphorisms Beckett published as ‘Long After Chamfort’ (though the last one is in fact by Pascal). Rummaging around in an archive once I came across a collection of other Chamfort lines Beckett had jotted down but not translated, and decided to produce my own pseudo-Beckettian versions. Here they are:

La plus perdue de toutes les journées est celle où l’on n’a pas ri.

count no day lost
a laugh has cursed

Ce que j’ai appris, je ne le sais plus. Le peu que je sais encore, je l’ai deviné.

all once known now lost unmourned
bar what remains to be unlearned

L’Ecriture a dit que le commencement de la sagesse était la crainte de Dieu; moi, je vois que c’est la crainte des hommes.

Fear God, keep his laws and so be wise,
avoiding those in whom his power lies.

Il y a des redites pour l’oreille et pour l’esprit; il n’y en a point pour le coeur.

Dear ear, you’ve a second take;
hearts you’re on a single break.

L’enfer: ‘l’endroit où il pue et où l’on n’aime point.’

hell reek
like home
all love
clean gone

Seule l’inutilité du premier deluge empêche Dieu d’en envoyer un second.

Only how little effect the first one had
can have prevented God from repeating the flood.

En voyant les hommes il faut que le coeur se brise ou se bronze.

heart that sees
break or freeze

Is that a fact? It had damn well better be.

1 comment:

Mark Granier said...

I like these, especially the second ('bar' is VERY good). Didn't know about the Pascal. My favourite (or the one that has retained its plot in my memory) is the succinct: 'Better on your arse than on your feet, / Flat on your back than either, dead than the lot.'