Saturday, February 06, 2010
I was asked, the other week, to write something for a forthcoming anniversary issue of Icarus. Looking through the issues of that magazine I edited in 1988-9, in between squinting, grimacing, and yelping at practically everything else I contributed to the issues (which was a lot, pseudonymously), I came across this translation from Henri Michaux. What a fine poem it is, in French:
Icebergs, without parapet or girdle, where ancient
crestfallen cormorants and the souls of sailors
recently dead come lean against the hyperboreal
nights of enchantment.
Icebergs, icebergs, secular cathedrals
of eternal winter, enfurled in this planet Earth’s
calotte, all frostyfingered.
How high, how pure your brinks,
children of the chill.
Icebergs, icebergs, spine of the North Atlantic,
august Buddhas frozen from seas uncontemplated,
sparking beacons of issueless death,
the aghast cry of silence lasts centuries.
Icebergs, icebergs, wantless solitaries
countries numbed in distance, beyond the vermin’s prowl.
How well I see you, original parents of the scattered islands,
the headstrong currents, how intimately you move in my mind’s arena.