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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “Durée d’Octobre / In October” by Claire Malroux

We welcome the beginning of September as it brings cooler weather and more importantly, National Translation Month. Our catalog includes several books in translation that explore languages such as Irish, Romanian, and French. This Poem of the Week features a book of translations from French, Edge by Claire Malroux and translated by Marilyn Hacker.

One poem, titled “Durée d’Octobre” / “In October,” captures the twisted beauty that comes with the change of seasons. While the earth temporarily decays and leaves fall, the resulting colors produce beauty and the promise of warmth against the cold to come. As the poem describes, “October its brilliance” points not only to the dead of winter, but also to the stubborn light that remains regardless of the changing seasons. Both in French and in English, this poem captures a romantic and sublime fall feeling.

Leaves in October

Durée d’Octobre

Octobre son éclat
Entre ses bras
         le feuillage condamné
de mourir en beauté

Roues des fleurs
        plus charnues
et ces royales silhouettes qui s’épurent
        aux confins
        dans la rigueur retrouvée des jardins

Le cri des oiseaux traverse
des transparences

Gravé dans le sillon
de ce disque matériel
le mécanique ne peut faillir
si les gestes humains
se défont

La lumière
impose les mains de l’amour
sur le froid


In October

October its brilliance
In its arms
        the condemned leaves
        the obsession
with dying beautifully

Whorls of more carnal
and regal silhouettes which purify themselves
        at the borders
        in the reachieved rigor of gardens

Birds shriek across

Engraved in the actual
and insubstantial
the mechanism cannot fail
even if human gestures
come undone

The obstinate
imposes loving hands
upon the cold

Claire Malroux, translated by Marilyn Hacker, from Edge (1996)

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