Today, I have decided to take a day off from the translating of public domain manuscripts, and share with you a couple of Winter-inspired dabblings.
Yes, yes. I know that it is not yet officially Winter down here in the Southern Hemisphere, but it’s cold, and it feels like Winter. Minus 1 or 2 degrees Centigrade last night. Maximum 13 degrees today. I’m trying not to use the heater, so as to save energy. Global warming. Brrr.
Three pairs of socks, sheepskin boots, mittens (I can’t type with gloves) and numerous layers of cotton, silk and wool on the other parts of my body. Another ten days until “official”, Government-guaranteed Winter sets in. I am determined not to light the natural gas heater until then.
But I digress. I was about to inflict a few pieces of my artistic dabblings on you. Poetry and painting.
I agree. Nothing will be spared you. However, you will be relieved to know that the poem is very short. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it will be served up to you twice. Once in its original French, and once in its English version. The latter was published in a poetry magazine in the USA. I can’t remember when, and I can’t be bothered looking for the magazine to find out.
The Western World has decreed that the Japanese-style haiku must be written in three lines and seventeen syllables. The seventeen syllables are to be distributed as follows: five in the first line; seven in the second line; five in the third line. No such rules exist in Japan. A haiku is just a short poem.
When I wrote this poem, in French, it was not intended to be a haiku and, by Western standards, it isn’t. It was only written because another poet had set up a sculpted leafless tree at an art exhibition, and left paper leaves in a pile, inviting people to write a poem and stick it on the tree.
I was presiding over the exhibition, which did not have a lot of visitors that afternoon, and decided to contribute my two cents’ (sorry, euros’) worth to his initiative. He liked it. I don’t know what he did with it after the exhibition.
The English version is an orthodox, Western haiku of seventeen syllables. Possibly more by luck, than actual intent. I can’t really remember how I arrived at that result, and I don’t suppose that it really matters.
I find it fascinating that two completely different moods are created, by saying exactly the same thing, in two different languages. You may not share my fascination. I realize that. But right now, at this particular moment, I don’t really care.
Nu, sous son manteau blanc,
L’arbre engourdi attend
Le doux baiser du printemps.
Nude and numb under
Its white coat, the tree awaits
Spring’s warm, gentle kiss.
The photo is lousy. I agree. I haven’t learnt to use the camera properly. I do not have a memory card and it only has a memory of three photos. Practically useless for someone like me. And yes, I’m sure that it’s the camera. Not I, myself, or even me.
The painting itself is more of bushes than trees. Not to mention the fact that the poem is about one tree, not several. Or a lot. Or anything over one, in fact. However, the only other snow painting which I can remember having done (since the one which surprised my primary school teacher, a long time ago) was inflicted on an extended family member for his sixtieth birthday. I was NOT invited to his sixty-first.
His painting is of real trees. In snow. With no leaves. Covered in snow. And is unframed. Still. However, it IS on a wall in his home. It was probably too big to just leave lying around.
Tomorow, I shall get back to the Historical stuff. I’ve decided on poison. At the court of the Borgias. We’ll be bumping off a lot of people. Can’t wait!