Two Poems by Blaise Cendrars
translated by Dick Jones
Trees long-haired with moss
Heavy rubbery glossy leaves
High burnished heat
I’ve stopped listening to the urgent voices of my friends discussing
The news that I brought from Paris
On both sides of the train close by or along the banks of
The distant valley
The forest is there watching me unsettling me enticing me like
a mummy’s mask
I watch back
Never the flicker of an eye.
* * *
There goes another year in which I haven’t thought about You
Since I wrote my penultimate poem Easter
My life has changed so much
But I’m the same as ever
I still want to become a painter
Here are the pictures that I’ve done displayed here on the walls this evening.
They reveal to me strange perspectives into myself that make me think of You.
See what I’ve unearthed
My paintings make me uneasy
I’m too passionate
Everything is tinted orange.
I’ve passed a sad day thinking about my friends
And reading my diary
A life crucified in this journal that I hold at arm’s length.
Like a crashing aeroplane
No matter how much you try to stay silent
Sometimes you have to cry out
I’m the other way
Editor’s note: In four months of trying, we were unable to contact the current copyright holders of the French originals (“Trouees” and “Journal”). We will of course be happy to accommodate their wishes should they ever decide to contact us.The iconoclastic poet and novelist Blaise Cendrars (Wikipedia page) was born Frédéric Louis Sauser in Switzerland in 1887. After fighting in the First World War he travelled extensively, drawing on (and embellishing considerably) the experiences that he had around the world for his surreal documentaries in verse and prose. Cendrars’ best-known poem is the epic La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France, which documents in vivid, sometimes dreamlike detail his journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway at the time of the Russian Revolution. His two novels Sutter’s Gold and Moravagine have been translated into twenty languages. Blaise Cendrars died, celebrated throughout France, in 1961.
Initially wooed by the First World War poets & then seduced by the Beats, Dick Jones (blog) has been exploring the vast territories in between since the age of 15. Fitfully published in a variety of magazines throughout the years of rambling, grand plans for the meisterwerk have been undermined constantly either by a Much Better Idea or a sort of Chekhovian inertia. So Dick Jones has no prize collection to his name; he has masterminded no radical creative writing programmes in a cutting edge university department; he has edited no recherché poetry magazines with lower case titles. However, work has been published in a number of magazines, print and online, including Orbis, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Ireland Review, Qarrtsiluni, Westwords, Mipoesias, Three Candles, Other Poetry, Rattlesnake and Ouroboros Review.