Pierrots I by Jules Laforgue

Translated from the French by
Guy Walker (March 2020)


The Italian Clown, Raoul Dufy, 1952
 
 
 
Hydrocephalus-asparagus,
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
 
 
 
 

__________________________________
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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