Pierrots I by Jules Laforgue

Translated from the French by
Guy Walker (March 2020)

The Italian Clown, Raoul Dufy, 1952





his sprouting face is zinc cream-smeared;

atop a neck stiff-starched, and thus

his ruff, beneath a phiz sans beard.


His eyes sunk in the opium

acceptance yields embracingly.

Just like a rare geranium

his zany’s mouth does sorcery.


A mouth which spans from yawning slot

(so icily convulsed a while),

to transcendental, hard to plot,

of Monna Lisa’s hollow smile.


They poise their floury dunce’s cones

above their silken, black head-bands,

they crease crow’s feet, their funny bones

scrunch noses into clover-fans.


In bezel settings on their rings,

Egyptian scarabs, as like as not,

in buttonholes, of all choice things,

a dandelion from vacant lot.


Content to live on fresh, blue sky

and just as much on beans and peas,

satsumas, eggs and the supply

of whiter rice than their chemise.


Adherents of the ashen cult,

they turn their backs on God and creeds,

“Laetare Sundays!” they exult,

lisp “Every one the best exceeds!”


The Imitation of Our Lady the Moon, 1886




C’est, sur un cou qui, raide, émerge

D’une fraise empesée idem,

Une face imberbe au cold-cream,

Un air d’hydrocéphale asperge.


Les yeux sont noyés de l’opium

De l’indulgence universelle,

La bouche clownesque ensorcèle

Comme un singulier géranium.


Bouche qui va du trou sans bonde

Glacialement désopilé,

Au transcendantal en-allé

Du souris vain de la Joconde.


Campant leur cône enfariné

Sur le noir serre-tête en soie,

Ils font rire leur patte d’oie

Et froncent en trèfle leur nez.


Ils ont comme chaton de bague

Le scarabée égyptien,

À leur boutonnière fait bien

Le pissenlit des terrains vagues.


Ils vont, se sustentant d’azur!

Et parfois aussi de légumes,

De riz plus blanc que leur costume,

De mandarines et d’œufs durs.


Ils sont de la secte du Blême,

Ils n’ont rien à voir avec Dieu,

Et sifflent: « tout est pour le mieux

« Dans la meilleur’ des mi-carême!»


L’Imitation de Notre-Dame de la Lune, 1886



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Guy Walker is a retired French teacher living in the South of England. In addition to writing poetry, Guy has published articles on political and health issues in The Conservative Woman. He is technically a Catholic with a predilection for a conservative outlook. He blogs at roseatetern.blogspot.com.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast



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