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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: “Morte la nuit / When night has died” by Claire Malroux

Today we’ve selected a poem by French poet and translator Claire Malroux, alongside the translation by Marilyn Hacker.

As Hacker points out in the preface to this volume, these poems are “on the boundary” in many ways. “Perhaps one crucial boundary, sacrosanct and taboo, on which they stand,” she continues, “is that between languages, and their respective poetries.” Hacker describes “the deepening of a friendship” that came about over the years these two poets have worked together, and her final description of the way translations develop is a nice way to enter into today’s poem: “a translation moves an iota along the asymptotic arc on which it approaches, in infinite increments, its equivalent poem.”

“Morte la nuit”

Morte la nuit
La mémoire des étoiles brûle

Une encre éblouissante subsiste
Dans l’écriture de l’aube

La monde naît
Sans déchirement

Le même enfante le même
Allègre renouvellement

Des ventres se nimbent
Lourds de fœtus de soleils

Des flèches d’oiseaux s’élancent
Vers les formes fertiles

Sur le lit du temps
Les vierges bourgeonnent

Des buissons d’anges
Jaillissent de leur nombril

Est possible

"When night has died"

“When night has died”

When night has died
The stars’ memory keeps burning

A dazzling ink remains
In the handwriting of dawn

The world bursts forth
Tearing nothing apart

Like gives birth to like
Joyful renewal

Bellies are haloed
Heavy with unborn suns

Bird-arrows dart up
Toward fertile forms

Virgins are blossoming
On the bed of time

Angel bushes
Spring from their navels

Is possible

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

Recent followers of Wake Forest University Press may not be aware that, though we are best known for publishing poetry by Irish authors, we do offer a small selection of French poetry in translation. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, our Contemporary French Poetry in Translation Series included work by Francis Ponge, Jacques Dupin, and Philippe Jaccottet, to name a few. And apart from that series, some of our Irish poets have done translations of major French poets (see many of Ciaran Carson‘s volumes, for instance).

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