A. A. translated by Millie Farrell

for Marcelline Delbecq

The gray light
extinguishes the twilight.
She is sitting there
on the couch

there at the edge of the empty armchair
in the empty apartment

She holds herself
her black eyes
untangling the black branches

of the tree
that barricades
the window

 

When translating my poem I had a few things that I changed just to make it run smoother and sound better in English however I really liked the original poem and the words used so I didn’t change much. Firstly I changed ‘the grays of the light’ to ‘the gray light’ because the original version wasn’t grammatically correct in English. Then I changed ‘there at the edge of, the armchair, empty in the apartment, empty’ to ‘there at the edge of the empty armchair in the empty apartment’ because the word order wasn’t quite right in translation and because I personally prefer this word order too. The next thing I changed is the part that says’ she stands straight’ and converted that into ‘ she holds herself’ because she is supposed to be sitting on the armchair and then it sounds like she is standing when really it just means that she is sitting up in the armchair. The last thing I changed was ‘who’ to ‘that’ because it isn’t grammatically correct in English in the context of the line and also because the tree is not a person I thought it would be better to use that. I changed a few bits in this poem, not really for style but to make it more grammatically correct in English.

A.A.
pour Marcelline Delbecq

Les gris de la lumière
éteignent la pénombre.
Elle est assise là
sur le canapé

là au bord du fauteuil
vide dans l’appartement
vide.

Elle se tient droite
ses yeux noirs
démêlent les branches
noires

des grands arbres
qui barricadent
la fenêtre.

 

Original poem by Christian Bernard. Reproduced by kind permission of the poet.