Saturday, 25 June 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Plonge mon âme moribonde'




Plonge mon âme moribonde,

Au cœur las des forêts profondes,

Que tout désir s’anéantisse,

Que tout feu perfide périsse,

Et que s’ouvre muet blanc

(Car la première neige tombe

A travers l'âme qui succombe)

Le gouffre moëlleux du néant.





Plunge now my soul marked by death’s dart

Into the forests’ weary heart,

May all desire dissolve to air,

All fire unfaithful perish there,

And, mutely white, the void unfold

(As the first snow of winter comes

Across the soul which soon succumbs)

While its so soft abyss takes hold.



Friday, 24 June 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Les halliers agités ont des mots grandioses'




Les halliers agités ont des mots grandioses

Au vent âpre de Février qui les émeut,

Mais seules les odeurs nous éclairent un peu,

Nous, les aveugles-nés au seuil des portes closes;


Nous les sourds. Et je vais à tâtons vers les choses,

A travers la forêt en vertige qui souffre

Et jouit, respirant ces haleines de gouffre

Où gisent les secrets et du but et des causes ;


A leur souffle, je tends mes inquiètes mains,

Elles s’en vont palpant je ne sais quelle errance?

Tout l'intangible amour en sa magnificence


Echappé, sans merci, à nos gestes humains,

Que la vaine apparence invinciblement lasse,

Refermés sur du vent ironique qui passe.





The agitated thickets have high words of praise

For February’s bitter wind which makes them stir,

We though have only smells to poorly light our way,

We, with closed doors before us, who are blind from birth.


We who are deaf. And I towards things have to feel

My way through forests that know pain but also bliss

When they inhale these breaths that come from the abyss

Which secrets of both goal and causes can reveal.


Towards their breathing I stretch hands out anxiously,

They search by touch some wandering unknown to me –

All love intangible in its magnificence


That mercilessly has evaded human sense –

Insuperably tired appearance, grasped in vain

In the ironic passing wind, is all they gain.



ZKV 106





Where, my dear Charles, did you find this sumptuous greenery? The corner of a hothouse at T-t-Trent or T-t-Tring?’

(Anthony Blanche in ‘Brideshead Revisited’)


Most people made the acquaintance of the ITV series in 1981 before ever reading ‘Brideshead Revisited’. That same year, Jeremy Irons also starred in the film version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I had once seen Jeremy Irons on stage in Restoration comedy in Reading, of all places, in 1976, and been asked for the first of umpteenth times whether he and I were related. No, we are not.


Jeremy Irons’ future success was assured after 1981. Mine was not. I had just lost my father, and my marriage was on the rocks. I was stranded in the SW corner of Sweden, and my job in Odense was on the line. Come back, or resign.


Et in Arcadia ego, the first section of the book, is a key concept. The arcadia that Charles experiences as a young man turns out to be a poisoned paradise, one that will eventually completely stifle his art and his capacity to develop as a fully sensing human being. The aristocratic world of the Flyte family is one of outward charm and sophistication, but it produces stunted human beings. The Marquess of Marchmain escapes to Italy, where he lives with his Italian mistress, but Charles is seduced. He cultivates a safe image as an artist who paints stately homes instead of exploring all of his personality. On returning from a journey to South America to portray buildings there, an apparent advance, his masquerade is mercilessly commented on by the shameless aesthete Anthony Blanche, an acquaintance from his time at Oxford. When asked by Ryder what he thinks of his new work, Blanche replies ‘It was charm again, my dear, simple, creamy English charm, playing tigers.’ He continues: ‘Charm is the great English blight. It does not exist outside these damp islands. It spots and kills anything it touches. It kills love; it kills art; I greatly fear, my dear Charles, it has killed you.’


Brideshead was published in 1945 and described an upper-class world from the 1920s onwards. Even so, I met Charles, Sebastian and Anthony in many forms at Cambridge and Oxford in the 1960s, where charm and Arcadia still were in full swing, probably still are. I left England in 1968 to try and chase tigers.



Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Langage inaccessible' (1911)



Langage inaccessible où rien ne s’articule,

Acre brouillard flottant sur la torpeur des eaux,

O parfums des étangs que le soir accumule,

Vous ébranlez mon cœur comme un penchant roseau.


Mes sens initiés vous entendent, immense

Voix du puissant amour en qui tout évolue.

Qui du suc des poisons fait germer la semence,

Jaillir du flot troublé la corolle impollue.


Mes sens vous ont compris, symboles esquissés

Par les relents profonds et sourds de pourriture

Qu’exhalent les marais sous les gestes lassés,

Des saules prosternant leur morne chevelure.


Mieux que l’haleine du sillon que fend la houe,

Je goûte, extasiée, vos langueurs effrénées,

Parfums subtils et forts qui sortiez de la boue,

Quand l’étreinte première et fécondante est née,


A l’aurore des temps; quand le spasme sacré

S’inventa. – O parfum d’herbes paludéennes,

Fiévreux et vénéneux, rien qu’à vous respirer,

Le cercle est dépassé des voluptés humaines;


C’est le Désir unique aux élans meurtriers

Que m’ont fait entrevoir vos philtres délectables,

Aux bords où déchirant leurs membres en lambeaux,

Des crapauds en amour expirent sur le sable.


Il semble que l’écho s’éveillant me réponde,

Il semble que le poids formidable m’écrase

Des multiples baisers qui créèrent le monde,

Parfums, quand vous montez des remous de la vase.


28 Mars.





A language out of reach where nothing speaks aloud,

An acrid fog that floats on waters dull and slow,

O scents of ponds that evening swells into a crowd,

You make my heart quake like a reed that’s bending low.


My high-trained senses hear full well your silent shout,

Great voice of potent love through which all things evolve,

Who from the juice of poisons makes new seedlings sprout,

From clouded sap untainted calyxes unfold.


My senses understand you, symbols sketched in air

By the profound and muffled stenches of decay,

Which marshes then exhale beneath the lazy sway

Of willows bowing down their dreary heads of hair.


Rather than breath from furrows that the hoe has drawn,

I taste, in ecstasy, your frenzied languidness,

You strong and subtle perfumes that from mud progressed

When the fecundant and the first embrace was born


At time’s beginning; when the spasm’s sacred clasp

Brought life about. – O feverish and toxic smell

Of marshland grasses, breathing you does all excel,

Transcending bounds of human pleasure at one gasp;


It is unique Desire, each surge a deadly threat,

Which your delicious philtres have made me perceive,

On banks where love-sick toads their limbs tear into shreds

Before they on the sand expire without reprieve.


It seems as if the waking echo hears my shout,

It seems as if I’m crushed by a vast, teeming flood

Of wild embraces which once brought the world about,

O perfumes, when you rise from eddies in the mud.


28 March


Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Ténèbres et lueurs' (1911)




Ténèbres et lueurs vaguement s’agglutinent,

Tout s’est imprécisé, le rêve se fait flou

Plus encor d’exister parmi cette bruine

Et la ligne qui fuit d’un horizon si mou.


Au niveau des roseaux en plumes de hibou,

Dont s’entourent chaque estuaire et chaque trou

Du marais endormi, miroitant en sourdine,

Le soleil s’arrondit, de blême gélatine


Et tremble. Nul rayon clair dans le ciel muet;

Un nirwana béant où l’âme se complaît,

Prête à s’évanouir tant ses contours faiblissent.


Je suis ce paysage au nébuleux sommeil,

O vaine conscience au fond de moi, soleil

Blessant, que tes reflets enfin s’anéantissent!


                27 novembre.              





Darkness and glimmerings now vaguely congregate,

All becomes imprecise, the dream is growing blurred

From still surviving in this drizzle’s constant state,

And sky’s receding rim turns softer, almost furred. 


At the height of the reeds, with owl-like feathered plumes,

Which fringe each nook and estuary within the gloom

Of drowsy marshland, its mirrorings scarcely seen,

The sun grows rounder still, of pallid gelatine,


And trembles. No clear ray lights up the silent sky – 

A vast nirvana where soul’s joy its course can run

About to dissolve as the contours fade away.


I am this landscape where a cloud-like sleep holds sway,

O vain awareness deep within me, wounding sun,

May your reflections finally disperse and die!


                27 November



Monday, 20 June 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Pour des sœurs inconnues' (1911)




Vous l’avez subi – vous que j’aime

Vraiment comme un peu de ma chair – 

Ce mal de marcher l’âme blême

Au sein d’un éternel hiver.


Ce fut toujours l’essor contraint,

L’aile saignante qui se brise,

Le sanglot qu’on ridiculise,

Sournoisement, la loi d’airain;


Les journées vides et déçues

Et la geôle des dévouements,

Le devoir terne, sans issue

Aux tenaces écrasements.


Autour de vous des voix iniques,

Qui vous l’ont dite sans valeur,

La vie aux multiples splendeurs,

La vie aux fêtes véridiques,


On offrit à vos cœurs soumis,

Mais brûlants de si tristes leurres,

De si tristes bonheurs permis,

Que de les goûter, l’on en pleure.


Sans cesse vous avez pâti

De l'idée chrétienne - la fausse –

Et vos guides vous ont menti,

Depuis le berceau à la fosse.


Vous n’avez eu droit qu’à l’enfant,

A la résignation lâche,

Aux vieillards, à toutes les tâches

Mornes, à l’effort déprimant.


On vous flétrit quand vous osez,

Tendre votre cœur vers les roses,

Vers la flamme, vers le baiser,

L’odeur des voluptés écloses;


Car le mal pour vous, c’est de naître,

A la caresse, au rire, au spasme,

A l’orgueil, à l'enthousiasme,

Aux gestes libres de vos maîtres.


Et c’est la révolte suprême,

Si, lasses, vous tentez enfin,

Niant votre habituelle fin,

D’exister – comme eux – pour vous-mêmes.





You’ve much endured – you whom as part

Of my own flesh I truly love –

Your pale soul’s struggled through the dark

Of endless winter, on the move.


Always your flight was much constrained,

With bleeding, broken wing that failed,

Your sobs were laughed at and disdained,

Though underhand – iron law prevailed.


Your days were empty, uninspired

Devotion seems to you a gaol

Your dreary duties merely tired,

Escape attempts to no avail.


Around you wicked voices claimed

There was no worth in forms of life

That splendours of all kinds proclaimed,

That true festivities were rife.


One offered to your servile hearts,

Which though at such deceptions blazed,

Permitted joys in fits and starts

Which left your sad eyes dull and glazed.


You’ve suffered long, unceasingly,

From Christian ideas – ones not true –

And those who guided lied to you,

From birth to death, unfailingly.


To children only you’ve a right,

To meek acceptance of what’s asked,

To old folk, to all dreary tasks,

Depressing efforts day and night.


You were condemned if you should brace

Your heart and dare yearn for a rose,

Or for a flame, intense embrace,

The scent that passions can disclose;


Your fate though is to have been born

For the caress, the laugh, the spasm

For pride and for enthusiasm,

To be your masters’ willing pawn.


And the supreme revolt is this:

Your common fate now to deny

And – just like them – this rule apply:

For yourselves only to exist.


Sunday, 19 June 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Je n'ai jamais goûté tout ce qui plaît aux femmes'




Je n’ai jamais goûté tout ce qui plaît aux femmes,

J’aime la force entière et l’effort violent,

Prendre pour compagnon mon vouloir persistant,

Rester le maître enfin absolu dans mon âme.


Mon dédain fut profond de leurs minces labeurs,

De lespace muré où les joies sont permises

Et du renoncement, des bonheurs sans franchise,

De leurs amours d’esclave où la fierté se meurt.


De tout ce qui les garde (et malgré qu’on en dise)

Loin du soleil réel, puériles, végétant,

Avec ces petits pieds que l’usage leur brise

Et cet esprit, comme eux, à jamais impotent.


Jamais je n’aurais pu d’une lèvre ravie,

Parler de ce ruban, d’un collier de corail,

Du miroir, du bouquet, de valse, d’éventail,

Sous son aspect mignard, considérer la vie.


Jamais je n’aurais pu, sous le poids du chagrin,

Pressoir broyant le cœur comme un rouge raisin,

Entre la mort guettant et la foi qui divague,

Comparer à mes pleurs, les perles de mes bagues;


Bercer l'enfant pleurant de doux radotements,

Regarder vers le ciel sans le soupçonner vide;

D’un faux bien, quel qu’il soit, leurrer mon cœur avide;

N’être qu'une enfant simple aux bras forts d’un amant.


J’étais de mes pensées solitaires éprise;

Virilement toujours mon âme s’appartint;

Aucun des mots appris ne la rendait soumise

Et rien ne s’accordait entre elle et son destin.


Les mensonges que j’aime, aux nuances subtiles,

Nés de mon sang, leurs contours immenses vacillent,

Sur vos fronts s’étoilant, ô bergers aryens,

Ils importuneraient les doux cieux féminins.


Et si parfois je pleure au fond des cathédrales,

Si, dominant mon lit, veille le crucifix,

C’est parce que, des dieux que l’humanité fit,

Celui-ci les surpasse en tendresse idéale;


Mais je respecte en moi cet homme que je suis,

Dont le vent du néant vient glacer chaque fibre,

Tandis que son cerveau cherche… anxieux et libre,

Seul à travers la nuit, sous la branche de buis.


11 mars 1911





I’ve never tasted all that women so extol,

I love full force, to sample violent efforts’ thrill,

To take as my companion my persistent will,

Remain the final total master of my soul.


Their petty labours roused in me profound disdain

As did the walled-in space where joys can be allowed

Their self-denial, unsanctioned pleasures unavowed,

Their slave-like loves, where pride must pine in vain.


All that which keeps them (in spite of what people swear)

Far from the real sun, lethargic, childish, spent,

And with their dainty feet that usage would impair

And with a spirit which, like them, is impotent.


I’d never have been able, with ecstatic voice,

To talk about this ribbon, some coral necklace praise,

A mirror, a bouquet, some waltz, this fan so choice,

Or to consider life in such a precious way.


I’d never have been able, weighed down by distress,

To crush my heart like a red grape in some large press,

Or, struggling between death and faith that’s strayed or fled,

Compare with my rings’ pearls the tears I sometimes shed.


Console a weeping child with senseless murmured charms,

Or skyward gaze without suspecting emptiness;

Deceive my avid heart with any false caress;

Be but a simple child clasped in a lover’s arms.


I was only taken with my solitary thoughts;

And, forever virile, my soul was all its own;

None of the words it learnt subdued it or could thwart

And between it and destiny agreement there was none.


All the lies that I love, of subtly changing shades,

Born of my blood, their boundless contours fluctuate,

Scattered across your brows, oh Aryan herdsmen, they

Would but disturb soft female skies if free to prey.


And if at times inside cathedrals I should weep,

If, gazing down, a crucifix guards where I rest,

It is because, of all the gods that humans keep,

This one surpasses them in ideal tenderness.


But I respect the man of which I’m also made,

Whose every fibre the void’s wind will chill in me,

While in his mind he searches… anxious and yet free,

Alone, throughout the night, within a box-tree’s shade.


11 March 1911