At times, without rhyme or reason, a poem will start in French in my mind and keep going until it hits a snag and my muse wants to continue in English… I keep telling her that this is just not done; it’s one or the other.
The funny thing is that, quite often, I can’t translate a poem straight from one language to the other, because poetry is both sound and meaning; it is the image a word or words convey, as well as rhythm and texture such as are found in alliterations for example. So, I often rewrite a portion to stay faithful to the intention of the writing… But even then, something gets lost in translation.
This poem on the sound of silence came out in French first, and as I have done before, I thought I would give my very dear and faithful English speaking readers the sounds in French (audio at the end of the French text) and their interpreted meaning in English.
I hope you enjoy both versions.
Ton silence me pèse tels ces fardeaux
Qui semblent supportables
Mais ne le sont plus au bout de peu de temps ;
Comme ces petites misères que l’on pardonne
Jusqu’à ce qu’elles nous brisent.
Ton silence fait le bruit
des portes qui claquent,
des rêves en chute libre,
et des pierres qui tombent
dans un gouffre sans échos.
J’entends le son des heures qui fuient
et des sourires figés
dans un ciel bleu.
J’entends les larmes essuyées
entre les lignes que tu n’écris pas.
Ton silence a le timbre
d’un cœur qui casse au ralenti,
puis s’éparpille sous la pluie
sans faire d’éclaboussures…
Dans ton silence, entends-tu
cette ombre égarée
Qui passe à pas feutrés ?
Your silence weighs on me like those loads
That seem bearable
But become too heavy in a very short time;
Like those little cuts and bruises we forgive
Until they bring us to our knees.
Your silence has the sound
Of doors that slam
Of dreams in free fall
And of stones hurling
Down a pit without echo.
I hear the noise of hours running away
And of smiles freezing in a blue sky;
I hear smudged tears
Between the lines you do not write.
Your silence has the timbre
Of a heart that shatters in slow motion
Then scatters in pouring rain
And doesn’t make a splash.
In your silence,
do you hear a shadow
As she errs on kitten paws?
Top image from http://www.radionowhere.org.uk/wp/photo phriday
Bottom image from http://www.fubiz.net/en/2013/02/04/white-silence/
My goodness French is such a beautiful language.
“Hear a shadow.” I love that.
French is indeed a beautiful language (I am refreshing my understanding of French at the moment).
Thank you guys. Yes it is, Yet it is less melodic than a lot of languages out there.
Hear a shadow. well, yeah. I take liberties. 😉
Look, hear the smell!
Blue notes of jasmine I hear!
They are such different languages – the sounds, the sentence structures, the expressions, the images – what a delight that you have both at your disposal.
Silence can be so cruel….
Yes, I am quite fortunate to be able to use two languages–preferably not at the same time, right?– 🙂
Funny, living in Montreal for many years, one gets used to the teenagers on the bus who begin their sentences in French and end them in English or vice versa, since they all speak both all the time, they get interwoven more and more with the younger generations.
However, I doubt it would be a suitable mode for your elegant poetry… 🙂
Mixing it up happens all the time. It’s funny. I fall into it very quickly, too often, without thinking when I am with a bilingual like me.
I might just try it someday and turn elegance on its ear? Or better yet, make it so it’s hardly felt. Hmmm. I’ll be thinking about that a while.:-)
I love how theatrical French sounds. You can read a grocery list in French and make it sound desperately dramatic with just a dash a bitter scorn lol
One of these days I will do that! read a grocery list without translation, post it and see what happens! I’ll leave the scorn out and try a sexy voice instead!
Haha French is always sexy. No need to work at it.
Ha! Come to the market with me someday, you may change your mind 😉
Haha especially all the little old ladies cursing you out for squeezing all the baguettes. Philistines.
The sound of silence sometimes is so loud!
I love this poem.
Thank you Noel! And it is true! Isn’t it interesting that we have all experienced a “deafening silence”? Somehow disapproval or indifference can best be expressed through no sound at all.
Oh yes. No wonder we sometimes say a person’s silence is so loud.
It’s good to hear your voice again. A silence that absorbs everything and never fills up? A negative pressure that pulls at everything. A lack that makes any effort pointless.
I thought the bird was “hanging on,” then I saw the girl.
Thank you rjb. I liked that wee bird. He is pelted but still standing. You could say he is hanging on; he knows that this too shall pass. And yes, silence can be like a black hole.
It’s all attitude and perception, all very subjective. That kind of hurtful silence assumes an intent, which may not be there at all.
Cheerful little piece though, isn’t it? 😉
I love the sound in both languages. In particular, I love the line, “your silence has the timbre of a heart that shatters in slow motion”.
Thank you I had a visual on that line! and I am playing with sounds that repeat and evoque quiet. I am glad you liked it.
Personne peut t’inquieter avec son silence.
Ca, tu comprends bien.
Tout est deja dit, ci-dessus.
Meme pour toi, c’est etonnant.
Magnifique en Francais, magnifique en Anglais.
Tu es vraiment une artiste, cherie, et tu as fait un chef d’oeuvre.
Merci. Du fond du coeur.
Onya Emmy …you have a sensitive and gentle way of communicating life and it’s ups and downs … …keep writing be well …Tony
Bonjour Tony. Thank you and thank you.
I can’t stop now.
Be well and be careful.