Saturday, 29 January 2022

Meister Eckhart: from 'In hoc apparuit caritas dei in nobis'


Swer daz leben vrâgete tûsent jâr: war umbe lebest dû, solte ez antwürten, es spræche niht anders wan: Ich lebe dar umbe daz ich lebe. Daz ist dâ von, wan leben lebet üzer sînem eigenen grunde und quillet üzer sînem eigen; dar umbe lebet ez âne  warumbe in dem, das ez sich selber lebet. Swer nû vrâgete einen wârhaften menschen, der dâ würket ûz eigenem grunde: war umbe würkest dû dîniu werk?, sollte er rehte antwürten, er spræche niht anders dan: Ich würke dar umbe, das ich würke.


Were anyone ask life for a thousand years: Why do you live?, it would say in answer nothing but this: I live in order to live. That is the case because life lives out of its own grounding and wells up out of its own source; therefore it lives without any why, since it lives in itself. Were anyone to ask a true human being who acted out of his own grounding: Why do you carry out your deeds?, and were he to answer honestly, he would answer nothing but this: I act in order to act.

Angelus Silesius: 'Die Ros' ist ohn' Warum' (from 'The Cherubinic Pilgrim,' 1657)


Die Ros‘ ist ohn‘ Warum;

sie blühet, weil sie blühet;

Sie acht‘ nicht ihrer selbst,

fragt nicht, ob man sie siehet.


No reason has the rose;

it blooms and blooms renew it;

it does not heed itself,

or ask if one can view it.

Marie Dauguet: 'Le bon rouet' (1899)

Le bon rouet


Vieille et lasse, eIle chevrote,

Chef branlant, regard vitreux,

Près d’un feu de chènevotte

Clairant dans l’âire poudreux;

La flamme danse et s’allonge,

Bleuâtre entre deux tisons,

Tandis que la vieille songe

En bredouillant des chansons,


Chef branlant, lèvre pendante,

Et la quenouille aux cordons

Du devanté, somnolente,

Son pied rythme les fredons

Du rouet qui la fascine

Et dont le cercle de buis

Fantastiquement dessine

Son orbe parmi la nuit.


Rassotante, sèche et plate,

Sous les rides en réseau,

Vieille à n'avoir plus de date,

Le dos rond comme un cerceau,

Le temps des amours la hante,

Ressuscitant à souhait,

Quand la voix du rouet chante.

– Chante et vibre, bon rouet!


Las mè! Seule, elle rêvasse... 

Des souvenirs décrépits,

Tout au long de sa filasse,

Vont s’enrouler sans répit.

– Bon rouet, gronde et bourdonne, 

Poursuis ta course, poursuis

La vigueur qui m’abandonne

Et les amours qui m’ont fui!


Belle, aimée, elle recule,

Par les sentiers effacés, 

Tâtonnant au crepuscule

Vers les aubes du passé.

– Bon rouet, qui plus ne gronde,

Fais bruire dans ma nuit,

Au caprice de ta ronde,

Tant de baisers qui m’ont fui!        



The grand old spinning wheel


Voice that quavers, old and tired

Dangling head and glassy stare,

Close beside her shive-stoked fire,

Gleaming in the dusty air;

Dancing flame spreads outwards, seems

Bluish in between two brands,

While the old crone sits and dreams,

Mumbles songs and warms her hands.


Dangling head and drooping lips,

And the distaff at the strings

Of her apron, almost dips,

Her foot treads a beat that sings

From the wheel’s bewitching whirls

And its boxwood circle’s flight

Wondrously its own orb twirls

In the darkness of the night.


Dry and flat she vegetates,

Wrinkled skin her outer hull,

Old from having no more date,

Back as rounded as a skull,

Haunted by love’s far-off ring,

Though reviving to appeal

When the wheel begins to sing:

– Sing and thrum now, grand old wheel!


Ah me! A mere day-dream show…

Memories, decrepit all,

Down the full length of her tow

Will unravel as they fall.

Old wheel, rumble, drone and hum,

Chase, pursue unerringly

My vigour that grows quite numb

And the loves that fled from me!


Loved and lovely, she steps back,

Taking tracks long-since erased,

Groping in the dusk’s near black,

Searching for lost dawns’ past trace.

– Wheel, your humming’s lost its tone,

So let rustle in my night –

As your whirring whim makes known –

Every kiss that’s taken flight!


The first poem by Marie Dauguet, written on a winter's day in 1899. It was subsequently published in 'La Plume' in the first half of 1903.


Thursday, 27 January 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Printemps' (Pan Revue, April-May 1913)




Le soleil neuf du matin,

Dans sa blondeur,

Dans sa candeur,

Le soleil pose

Sur les choses,

Et la rosée qui les décore

Et tremble dans l’air suspendue,

Un givre d’or.


Les objets n’ont pas de contours

Dans la campagne…sans frontière…

Ils fondent parmi la lumière

Dont l’afflux trébuchant les agite.


Les objets n’ont pas de contour,

D’une translucide matière;

Le soleil aux blondes paupières

Partout les baise avec amour.


Nulle opacité… tout s’aère

Les ombres sont claires…très claires,

Par taches, en tremblants filets

Et du ton léger des bleuets.


Un prisme errant se pulvérise;

Adorable confusion

De chaque objet et du rayon

Qui le pénètre et qui le grise.


Mon cœur s’ouvre dans la clarté

Aromatique et musicale,

Lune, ferme la fleur d’opale,

Vibre en nous, soleil enchanté.





The newly risen morning sun,

In blond brightness,

And forthrightness,

Begins to land

On what’s at hand,

On dew that adds enhancing gloss,

And quivers in the hanging air,

A gold hoar frost.


In country setting objects lack

Clear contours… All just seems to merge…

They melt within light’s tumbling surge

Which causes them to whirl and swirl.


Objects are shapeless, on the move,

Translucent substance that seems spare;

The sun, blond-lidded, everywhere

Embraces them with ardent love.


Nothing’s opaque… all turns to air

Shadows grow clear… extremely clear,

In patches, trembling streaks and shreds

And bluish tinges here and there.


A straying prism turns to spray;

A muddled but delightful state

Of every object and the ray

Which pierces and intoxicates.


The dulcet, fragrant clearness won

Causes my heart to open wide,

Moon, time your opal flower to hide,

Vibrate in us, enchanted sun.



Published in the review ‘Pan’, by Jean Clary, April-May 1913


Marie Dauguet: 'Printemps', Part III




                                 To Gustave Le Bon


Ah, listen, listen, it’s the formidable bound

Of the instinctive sun whose mane is all ablaze

And the dizzying race with frenzied, rhythmic sound

Of captive earth, where humans crawl as in a daze.


Aether dissolves its dead, it rocks its newly born,

Mixes new stars with ghostlike suns as if by chance,

But on the rails of time, all slide away, are drawn

As atoms in the strong vibrations of our dance.


Sheer flux! And nothingness! The contour that is drawn

Of worlds and hearts before all things disintegrate.

Appearance, lay your sacred trap is all I crave!


Throughout all spring, dispersed and in my soul still borne,

Oh Rose, whose spell I will have tasted at some date,

What does it matter if you’re but a scented grave?

I have added Part III for the sake of completeness. In my opinion it is a ghastly poem. It is confirmation that Marie Dauguet lost her centre from about 1909 onwards. Not always, but Futurism seems to have blighted her poetry.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Printemps II'



One’s task and duty? – This: To endlessly dispute

The contours by which all one’s being is defined.

Oh Life, full of resource, to soaring flight inclined,

Which seeks the weight of all dense matter to refute,


I offer all within me to your subtlety!

So that by you, through me, the universe may know

Itself, no humble morals where one bows down low,

But all of Satan’s pride in its immensity –


His gesture sent towards the vast great Mystery.

My own enigma, which I challenge endlessly,

You cloudy aether’s secret, exit door of old –


Like lightning flashes may my night dreams you both seize,

Here by this April wood, whose seeds shake in the breeze

’Neath the moon, at my feet, sowing duvets of gold.


Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Marie Dauguet: ´Printemps I' (1913)

Between 1911 and 1924, Marie Dauguet published no collection of poetry. This is part I of a three-part poem printed in 'Mercure de France' on 16 July 1913, i.e. it is at or just after a turning point in her career as a poet. She cites Bergson, there are traces of Nietzsche, there is a clear allusion to the carpe diem theme from Ronsard's famous poem. The other two parts of the poem will follow when translated.




Life, that is to say consciousness

launched into matter.




The sun has melted just as fruit can do inside

The mouth, and in the forest silky murmurs die,

On moss the moving breezes suddenly subside –

And moist-eyed Venus now appears low in the sky.


At the top of the woods, no single quiver shows

Itself, and at their edge I settle silently;

And I would like to pluck, as one would do a rose,

A bullfinch’s familiar flight quite close to me.


Here with angelic gentleness night has arrived,

Its censers burning with misty intoxication;

The earth’s strong scent with shadows mingles uncontrived:

The pain of thinking has its own strange captivation.


Far off I hear the violet bells’ sound slowly die

And like some mystic influx it seems everywhere;

Let’s think no more… let’s dream… above all let’s not cry

Before the desert sky with silent depths of air.


Resign yourself, be silent, let both your hands make sure

Of all the furtive treasures that each hour bestows

And no more raise them up towards that senseless lure:

The empty sky where so much human sobbing goes.


If the divinity for which we search and wait

Should one day come, within us it will have its source,

Its rhythmic beauty from my verse will emanate,

And all its mystery, dissolved, through my veins course.


If by Life’s vital force I upwards dare be borne,

Better than amber or than iron, with utmost verve

And to its impulse yield my marrow, every nerve,

Beneath my raptured brow a god might yet be born.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Benny Andersen: 'Hor og kærlighed'


fornication and love


To play on a lousy

neglected and misused instrument

is like going to bed with someone

                you do not love

neither the piano nor yourself

feel anything at all except the urge

to get it over with quickly

You shut your eyes and think of

Steinway & Son

or Hornung & Møller

you’re seized with self-pity

and pity for the poor wretch

and the music sounds accordingly:




until you suddenly find a sound

a humming strength

a 10th of former days

that has miraculously survived all infamy

                                 and rape

an upright melancholy

like a partially burnt field of stubble

You open your eyes

stare with unaccustomed tenderness

at the worm-eaten yellow keys

everything is closer now

imprisoned and forgotten notes

                are set free

How wonderful it can be to be alive

To hell with Steinway & Møller

Now it’s just the two of us

for this short eternity!



Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Eva Gerlach: 'De weg der waarheid'


The way of truth


Your dog, you write, likes watching you under the shower.

Your dog goes with you to the coast and you accept the fish

that he catches and you throw it back. The fish is

no longer the one lifted out of the sea and will 

never be the same again, and neither am I, having

known you, still any good to myself. ‘I’m moving

towards an empty space coming out of

what wasn’t there and all my scales 

cannot protect me.’ Your dog has no knowledge of

this sort of confusion. Parmenides (everything is 

1 and indivisible, everything has always existed

and cannot be otherwise) appeals to your dog.


You send a photo of your dog, with his front paws on the

window sill he takes a look inside, his member stiff

as if standing for what he sees, which is

of course the case, thus does he ride

on what he thinks and is, has what I lack. 


Pär Lagerkvist: ''Om du tror på gud och någon Gud inte finns"

If you believe in god and no God exists

your belief is a yet greater miracle.

Then it is truly something unimaginably great.


Why is there a creature deep in the dark calling out

       to something that does not exist?

Why is that the way things are?

There is no one who hears someone calling out in the dark.

       But why does the call exist?


Thursday, 13 January 2022

Pär Lagerkvist: 'Du som fanns före bergen och molnen'


You who existed before the mountains and the clouds,

before the sea and the winds,

You whose beginning is before the beginning of all things

and whose joy and sorrow are older than the stars.

You who have roamed eternally young over winter streets

and through the great darknesses between them.

You who were lonely before loneliness

and whose heart was full of anxiety long before any human heart –

Do not forget me.


But how could you possibly remember me.

How should the sea possibly remember the shell

through which it once roared.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Ilja Pfeijffer: 'De oude woorden'

The old words of a time that still is yet to come


Beneath monks’ cowls old news is now a whispered mumble.

The gulping cardinals let peacock fillets tumble

down their wide-open gullets. Darkly sparkling wine

shimmers in golden goblets which could melt down fine.

Faith’s topazes and rubies are held on to tightly

by feeble hands. On unlit roads couriers nightly

race back and forth on foam-flecked horses at great speed.

And unknown women’s faces gleam and then recede

out in the fens. From outposts nothing yet forthcoming

of new reports since paid-off soldiers after coming

home have related strange abnormal incidents

at night. And miracles that have no precedents

are quoted by provincial prelates such as tales

of one new-born whose neck was fully clad with scales,

a flash of lightning which struck straight into a grave,

communion wine turned sour, a broken bishop’s stave,

a calf that had two heads and statues that would bleed.

For facts there is no need if fear you wish to feed

of something nigh. Disasters all end up foretold

with books of prophets so construed as to uphold

what’s really random, but designed to fit your fear.

At sacrificial feasts the angel won’t appear.

A corpse will still remain what’s found upon day three.

The stag which in a dream our emperor could see

had ordinary antlers, on which was no sign.

No knight e’er sought and found the grail to have as shrine.

The only thing that was and is and is to be

is sheer indifference. One who misguidedly

connects things, in star’s stillness sees a guiding light

and would find hidden meaning in a meteorite.

Since earth is in sun’s orbit on the far-flung plains

of a vast soulless universe, here practice reigns,

the folios all crumble, gold’s mere chinking gilt,

about oil war’s declared, a worldwide web is built

that reads the thoughts of all who have consumer roles

deemed suitable and who migrate towards the poles

from the equator but now flee to climes less loyal

and cool. The ploughman in the foreground tills the soil

and no one sees the fall of Icarus. Cocksure,

with wax-glued techno-wings, thermals of hubris bore

him sunwards until all the wax did melt, thus freeing

him first from prison, afterwards from his own being.

The plougher ploughed on through the loose and lumpish earth,

since for the ploughman myths had little or no worth.

They were cack-handed hobbies. Time was just a plot

that him and his traditions wilfully had shot

to ribbons. That he’d read of on the Internet,

just check it out. And now he felt he ought to fret

that they would try to take his bollocks at one pull.

He’d counted them – he wouldn’t let them pull the wool

and every day made sure he turned the clock hands back

one day. The final stage-coach leaving on the track

out from the palace through the Teutoburger Wald

to steer well clear of pitchforks brought the crown of gold

to the secluded secret place where the last king

would hide away and the whole farcical last fling

majestically would sit out to the end. With crown

and show of power he’d be sure to calm folk down

and, brilliantly lit up by nearby farms ablaze,

return to his own palace using country ways.

Apparently the stage-coach failed in its intention – 

for of his majesty there is no further mention.

From all one violently feels one has to feel

and all one groundlessly believes there seemed to steal

a humble kind of hoping that costs mystery

and well-intended faith in love that sets one free.

Blood must become more fluid. What is needed still

is little less than a small miracle to fill

a loss with meaning, single-handed to protect

all order from sheer chaos, likewise to deflect

barbaric hordes from marching on the Papal Palace,

where evil cardinals in conclave, full of malice

and indecisiveness, their bloodied knuckles break

on dogmas about Judgment Day and how to take

the maybe, maybe not expected sign. The night

is long and secretive. Something awaited might

be sought in shadows, behind pillars. Babes are crying.

Each day gaunt cattle’s bruised more and looks close to dying,

processions of poor penitents lash backs with thorns

from north to south. The stench of truth both calls and warns

in spite of any changing types of known conviction.

And while the choir through chants seeks to avoid affliction

with trembling lips, the prelate mumbles almost dumb

the old words of a time that still is yet to come.