Oraison du Soir : Evening Prayer
Translated by Holly Tannen
assisted by Lydia Rand
with a second translation for comparison
I live sitting down, like an angel in the hands of a barber,
Grasping a heavily fluted mug,
My belly and my neck are bent, a cheap pipe in my teeth
Beneath air swollen with impalpable clouds.
A thousand dreams within me burning painfully and sweet,
Like steaming heaps of birdshit in some old pigeon coop;
And sometimes my sad heart is like the sapwood
Bloodied by the young and somber gold of falling fruit.
Then when I've carefully gulped down my dreams,
And drunk my thirty, maybe forty mugs,
I rouse myself to ease my bitter need:
Sweet as the Saviour of cedar and of hyssops
I piss towards the dark heavens, very high and very far
With the assent of the large heliotropes.
hyssops: herb used in biblical times for ceremonial sprinkling
Rimbaud with mug - sketch by Verlaine
Oraison du Soir
For fun, here's a translation by another translator. I wonder where he got the ferns.
I spend my life sitting, like an angel in a barber's chair
(Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works. Translated from the French by Paul Schmidt. Harper Colophon, 1976)
translations The Drunken Boat
Mistress of Folklore
|Holly Tannen teaches folklore and anthropology, and has lectured on contemporary magic at U.C. Berkeley and at Yale University. Her recordings include "Invocation", "Between the Worlds", and "Rime of the Ancient Matriarch"
All text, translations, and songs copyright © 2002 by Holly Tannen
updated 3 January 2002 : 00:32 Caspar (Pacific) time