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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Where Forgetfulness Weighs

Beckett fact (hors série).

A selection of Beckett’s French poems features in Philip Nikolayev’s English translation in the February issue of Poetry. Here for curious comparatists and in no particular order is the opening stanza of bon bon il est un pays in his and my translation, mine as extracted from the lower intestine of a long-ago PhD thesis:

good good it is a land
where forgetfulness weighs forgetulness
sweetly on the unnamed worlds
there the head is silenced the head is mute
and you know no you know nothing
the song of dead mouths dies
on the shore it has made its journey
no cause for any more tears

all right all right there’s a land
where forgetting where forgetting weighs
gently upon worlds unnamed
there the head we shush it the head is mute
and one knows no but one knows nothing
the song of dead mouths dies
on the shore it has made its voyage
there is nothing to mourn

I do like his versions, I must say.

A feature on Beckett’s poetry is promised in the next issue of Fulcrum, which also reprints ‘Beckett’s forgotten masterpiece “Ceiling”.

PN points out that the bon bon il est un pays was written at the prompting of Bram van Velde who wanted to use the text to accompany his images in an exhibition but never did, ‘perhaps because the poem itself is an explicit rejection of the invitation’.

1 comment:

IULIA said...

Why do you think that Beckett did not name his characters in his short prose writings? (except A CASE IN A THOUSAND and when he uses the first person narrative.