Saturday, 29 January 2022

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.

 

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