Jacques Réda’s Elegaic Calendar


It’s far from winter in Australia, but a recent post on Kathryn Ingrid’s blog   http://artcoloredglasses.com/2015/01/12/winter-in-my-soul/   made us think of a poem by Jaques Réda that we particularly love. Here are the opening lines, with our translation:

Ce que j’aime en hiver, c’est l’élan nu des branches

Contre un ciel sombre ou très doucement lumineux

De turquoise, de rose un peu mauve, d’orange

Ou de vert et de gris, pâles, fuligineux,

Qui font avec ce noir un saissisant contraste.

On imagine une écriture au sense secret….

What I love in winter is the bare elan of branches

Against a sky which is sombre or very softly lit

In turquoise, pink shading into lilac, in orange

Or pale and sooty greens and greys

Distinct against the dark,

Branches, you might say, that write

a reticent message on the sky…

We haven’t found this poem on line unfortunately. Our copy is Kelley and Khalfa’s The New French Poetry (Bloodaxe Books 1996). Réda has written an “Elegaic Calendar” with a poem for every month, so we may come back to it as the seasons change.

4 thoughts on “Jacques Réda’s Elegaic Calendar

  1. Very pleased to see this poem on your blog. i remember when you brought it to French, Joan. i still have it in my folder, and confess to having turned to it when I was bored, or irritated in class. I think your translation is exceptionally good!

  2. Hi Dorothy, and thanks. Nothing makes you appreciate a poet’s skill like trying to translate it. In this case, it was the turn into that last phrase. which literally translates as “One imagines a
    script with a secret meaning” that was so hard to capture. Really, you have to read the whole poem, which you, fortunately, can do!

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