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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Setsuko Hara in One of Her First Movies

Setsuko Hara in one of her first movies (the fifth, to be very precise): it's Atarashiki Tsuchi (The New Earth), made in 1936 - 37, and this movie has quite a story. I'm not speaking about what happens in the movie; it's about what happened to the movie: overloaded by a heavy political message, its fate followed all political turmoils of that epoch.

The New Earth was a German-Japanese co-production aiming to symbolize the power of the alliance between the two countries, based on shared values, the Volk ohne Raum and all that stuff. The title (The New Earth, or The New Soil) was referring to Manchuria: the plot presented in the most idyllic way the colonialist ambitions of Japan.

Setsuko Hara was playing the role of a girl (descendant of an old samurai family) whose heart was filled with a chaste love; the chosen one was a young Japanese just returned from studies in Germany.

As it is the case in all love stories the heart of the young man vacillated for a while between Misuko (Setsuko Hara) and Gerda (played by Ruth Eweler), a German young lady who (as it happened) was traveling to Japan right then. But (of course) Gerda had a high understanding of political correctness imperatives (well, as they were understood in Berlin and Tokyo those times), so she convinced Teruo (that was the name of the hero) to marry Misuko.

Setsuko Hara and Ruth Eweler

So, the wedding followed and the new family moved to Manchuria (where else?), to bring there the Japanese lights. As simple as that! You'd say it's creepy, but look at some war movies made in the epoch in other countries as well.

The movie had two directors: the German Arnold Fanck (famous for his Bergfilms that made known the name of Leni Riefenstahl), and the Japanese Mansaku Itami, a specialist of jidaigeki (the word used in Japan to designate period dramas).

The issue was that each director had totally opposite views about how to make the movie. Fanck was fascinated by Nippon feudal traditions (the way Europeans knew about them), while Itami had enough of all that stuff and liked to mock the traditions: his jidaigeki movies were actually kind of satires, with personages trying to continue revolute behaviors in modern Japan.

No wonder the two directors went each on his own way with filming and finally two versions emerged. Even the title was not the same. A movie with a plethora of titles! Die Tochter des Samurai, and Die Liebe der Mitsu were used in Berlin, while The New Earth or The New Soil were intended for English speaking countries.

More than that: it could sound weird today, but in 1937 Nazi Germany had still diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, and the Chinese Embassy issued a strong protest against the way the movie was presenting the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. Thus any reference to this was censored in Berlin!

I found a very interesting essay on the web, telling the history of this movie.

Well, you like it or not, this was the first movie where Setsuko Hara had a leading role. You could say that in Germany as well as in Japan Arnold Fanck proved really a good eye in discovering great talents!

For me, searching materials about The New Earth was also the occasion to find info about an earlier film with Setsuko Hara: Kochiyama Soshun, made by Sadao Yamanaka; the history of the movies made by Yamanaka is fascinating and I promise to come on them as soon as I can!

(Yasujiro Ozu and Setsuko Hara)


The Next New Dealers

E.J. Dionne Jr. in today's W. Post:

Young Americans are the linchpin of a new progressive era in American politics. So why aren't Democrats paying more attention to them?

The relative strength of conservatives in American politics since the 1980s was built on generational change: Voters whose views had been shaped by the New Deal were gradually replaced with the more cautious souls who came of age after FDR. Enter the Millennials -- generally defined as Americans born in 1981 or after. They are, without question, the most liberal generation since those New Dealers, and they could transform our politics for decades.

Yet this will happen only if progressive politicians start noticing their very best friends in the electorate. Progressives who doubt this should spend time with the exhaustive portrait of the Millennials that Pew Research Center released Wednesday. The study underscored the generation's distinctiveness, and a big part of that distinctiveness is how progressive younger Americans are compared with the rest of the country.

For one thing, they are not allergic to the word liberal. Americans under 30 include the largest proportion of self-described liberals and the smallest proportion of self-described conservatives of any age group: 29 percent of the under-30s called themselves liberal, compared with 28 percent who called themselves conservative.

In every other age group, Pew notes, far more described their views as conservative than liberal.

Among Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), the conservative advantage over liberals was 38 percent to 20 percent. Among baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964), conservatives led 43 percent to 18 percent. Among those born in 1945 or before -- Pew uses the classic Silent Generation tag -- the conservative advantage was 45 to 15 percent. (Moderates and a few respondents who refused a label made up the remainder in all groups.)

The difference in self-labeling reflects differences in attitudes. It's well-known that younger voters are more liberal on social issues, particularly gay rights. But their liberalism also includes sympathy for activist government. Fifty-three percent of Millennials said that government should do more to solve problems. In every other age group, pluralities preferred the alternative statement offered by the pollsters, that government is doing too many things better left to business and individuals.

Millennials, the report concludes, are significantly less critical of government on a number of dimensions than are other age cohorts.

Scott Keeter, a principal author of the report, said that while individuals often become more conservative as they get older, not all generations start off as liberal as the Millennials have. Many in Generation X came of age in the Reagan years and started out as conservatives, he said. Baby boomers, he added, are more conservative than they were in the 1970s, but older boomers retain a distinctively Democratic tilt.

Though not the whole story, demographic factors help account for the Millennials' progressive leanings: Census data cited by Pew show that 61 percent of Millennials are white, compared with 70 percent of Americans age 30 and over. This means that political outreach to the young will require particular attention to Hispanics (19 percent of Millennials) and African Americans (14 percent).

For Democrats looking ahead to this fall's election, the Pew study has some disturbing news.

It's true that Millennials are the most Democratic age group in the electorate -- they voted for Barack Obama by 2 to 1. Their turnout rate relative to older voters was higher in 2008 than in any election since 1972, the first presidential contest in which 18-year-olds could vote.

But Pew notes that since 2008, the Millennials' enthusiasms have cooled -- for Obama and his message of change, for the Democratic Party and, quite possibly, for politics itself.

Obama's personal ratings among the Millennials remain very high -- three-fourths have a favorable view of the president -- but his job-approval rating has slipped from 73 percent a year ago to 57 percent this month. In the early months of last year, Democrats had a 29-point Millennial advantage over the Republicans. By the end of the year, their lead had been cut to 14 points.

That still keeps the 18-to-29s the electorate's most Democratic age group. But Democrats face disaster this fall and real problems in 2012 if the Millennials become disaffected from politics and if the Republicans continue to erode the Democrats' generational edge.

And what will Democrats do about it? Politicians have a bad habit in midterm elections: They concentrate on older folks, assuming younger voters will stay home on Election Day. This may be rational most of the time, but it is a foolish bet for Democrats and liberals this year. The young helped them rise to power and can just as easily usher them to early retirements. Obama cannot afford to break their hearts.

You should address your comments to the author of the article, E.J. Dionne Jr. Thank you.

Zoon Politikon)

La Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis

Dictes moy ou, n'en quel pays,
Est Flora la belle Rommaine,
Archipiades ne Thaïs,
Qui fut sa cousine germaine,
Echo parlant quant bruyt on maine
Dessus riviere ou sus estan,
Qui beaulté ot trop plus q'humaine.
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

Ou est la tres sage Helloïs,
Pour qui chastré fut et puis moyne
Pierre Esbaillart a Saint Denis?
Pour son amour ot ceste essoyne.
Semblablement, ou est la royne
Qui commanda que Buridan
Fust geté en ung sac en Saine?
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

La royne Blanche comme lis
Qui chantoit a voix de seraine,
Berte au grand pié, Beatris, Alis,
Haremburgis qui tint le Maine,
Et Jehanne la bonne Lorraine
Qu'Englois brulerent a Rouan;
Ou sont ilz, ou, Vierge souvraine?
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

Prince, n'enquerez de sepmaine
Ou elles sont, ne de cest an,
Qu'a ce reffrain ne vous remaine:
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

--- an English version (Robin Shirley)

Tell me where, or in what land,
is Flora the fair Roman girl,
Archipiada, or Thaïs,
who was her match in beauty's hall,
Echo who answered when one called
over rivers or still pools,
whose loveliness was more than human?
Where are the snows of yesteryear?

Where is Héloïse, so wise, for whom
Pierre Abelard was first unmanned
then cloistered up at Saint Denis?
For her love he bore these trials.
And where now can one find that queen
by whose command was Buridan
thrown in a sack into the Seine?
Where are the snows of yesteryear?

Queen Blanche, light as a lily,
who sang with a mermaid's voice,
Bertha Bigfoot, Beatrice, Alice,
Arembourg, heiress to Maine,
and Joan the good maid of Lorraine
whom the English griddled at Rouen;
where are they, where, O Sovereign Virgin?
Where are the snows of yesteryear?

Prince, don't ask me in a week
or in a year what place they are;
I can only give you this refrain:
Where are the snows of yesteryear?

--- a Romanian version (Dan Danila):

Pe unde-s, prin ce tari de vis,
Flora, romana-ncantatoare,
Alcibiada sau Thais,
Ce fost-au bune verisoare,
Echo, dand zvonuri chematoare
Pe stanci si ape spre liman,
Frumoasa de pereche n-are?
Dar unde-i neaua din cel an?

Dar inteleapta Helois?
De dragu-i, cat a patimit
Pierre Abelard la Saint Denis,
Scopit si-apoi calugarit.
La fel, Doamna ce-a poruncit
Sa se inece Buridan
In sac si-n Sena azvarlit?
Dar unde-i neaua din cel an?

Regina Blanche ca floarea-nvoalta
Cantand cu voce descantata,
Betris, Alis, Berte cea inalta,
Erembourg, doamna-n Maine odata,
Lorena Jeanne, nevinovata
De englezi arsa la Rouan,
Unde-s, Fecioara preacurata?
Dar unde-i neaua din cel an?

Printe, nu intreba pe unde,
Nici de al vremilor noian,
Doar un refren iti va raspunde:
Dar unde-i neaua din cel an?

--- another English version (The Ballad of the Ladies of Yore)

Where, pray tell me, in which land,
where is Flora the fair Roman?
and Archipiades and Thaïs,
all cousins in art and voice?
Echo, she spoke where we bellowed
across rivers, over ponds,
held more beauty than human should.
But whither have gone the snows of yore?

Where is that most wise Heloïs
for whom was gelded then monk became
Pierre Esbaillart at Saint-Dennis?
For her love he made the sacrifice.
Where, pray tell me, is the queen
who ordered noble Jean Buridan
to be sacked then thrown into Seine?
But whither have gone the snows of yore?

And Blanche the lily-white queen
who sang with the voice of a siren?
Bertha the slender-footed, Beatrice, Alice?
Haremburgis who held all of Maine?
And Joan the just maid of Lorraine
who in Rouen the English burned?
Where are they? Where, Virgin supreme?
But whither have gone the snows of yore?

Prince, let no week pass save you ask
where they are; and throughout the present year
until it be that you too come up with this refrain:
But whither have gone the snows of yore?

--- and a Japanese version (leonocusto2008)

(『日夏耿之介全集』2、河出書房新社 1977 より)



聖貞童女(せいていどうにょ)よ ここらなべての女人(にょにん)だち今いづくんかある。


(François Villon)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gérard Philipe

Il a vécu ce que vivent les anges
L’espace d’un rêve

(video by LeKaitoKid)

(Cinéma Français)


Is Scott Brown a Closeted Democrat?

Nobody's perfectly red, not even red senator Brown.

Zoon Politikon)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rimbaud again: Le Dormeur du Val

Le Dormeur du Val (The Sleeper in the Valley): it's a beautiful video, made by a lover of Rimbaud's verses, though I think anything added to the words overloads the poem. These verses are incredible; it's pure poetry, and they should be left as they are, they contain their images and they contain their music.

C'est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c'est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l'herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

To translate the verses is dangerous. The simplicity of the poem is illusory; the images, and their rhythm, embedded in the words, keep their full sense only in the original. It is about the subtleties of French lexicon, which are unique to French.

I found an English version, and the author left it as an open source, inviting the readers to come with suggestions:

It is a green hollow where a stream twitters
Wildly hanging on the grasses rags
Of silver; where the sun from the proud mountain
Shines: it is a little valley bubbling with sunlight.

A soldier young, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
The nape of his neck bathing in the cool blue watercress,
Sleeps; he is spread out on the grass, under the skies,
Pale on his bed of green where the light rains down.

His feet in the gladiolas, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child would smile, he is having a nap:
Nature, cradle him warmly: he is cold.

Fragrances do not make his nostril quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
Peacefully. He has two red holes in his right side.



Lyrical Fantasy with Bits of Horror Movie


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and Alphacat:


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Monday, February 22, 2010

Bulat Okudjava: The Prayer of François Villon

Пока земля еще вертится,
Пока еще ярок свет,
Господи, дай же ты каждому,
Чего у него нет:
As long, as the earth keeps turning,
As long, as the sun is above,
Almighty, please give to each one
That what he hasn't and needs
Мудрому дай голову,
Трусливому дай коня,
Дай счастливому денег...
И не забудь про меня.
Grant brain to the man who is wise,
The coward, grant him a horse,
The happy, let him have money,
And don't forget about me.
Пока земля еще вертится, -
Господи, твоя власть! -
Дай рвущемуся к власти
Навластвоваться всласть,
So far, as the earth keeps turning,
Almighty, as is your wish,
Grant to the striving the power
To rule as much as he needs.

Дай передышку щедрому,
Хоть до исхода дня,
Каину дай раскаяние...
И не забудь про меня.
Grant respite to the generous
At least till the outcome of day.
Grant repentance to Cain
And don't forget about me.

Я знаю: ты все умеешь,
Я верую в мудрость твою,
Как верит солдат убитый,
Что он проживает в раю,
I know that you have the power,
I've faith in the wisdom from you,
Believing as a dead soldier
That right in the Heaven I'll be

Как верит каждое ухо
Тихим речам твоим,
Как веруем и мы сами,
Не ведая, что творим!
As truly believes every being:
That all that you say is true,
As we go on believing,
Not knowing what we do.

Господи мой Боже,
Зеленоглазый мой!
Пока земля еще вертится,
И это ей странно самой,
O Lord of my life, O, Almighty,
On blond tresses and the green of eyes,
So far as the earth keeps turning
Although it still wonders, why?

Пока ей еще хватает
Времени и огня,
Дай же ты всем по немногу...
И не забудь про меня.
So far, as it still has left some time
and fire to keep its course,
Grant something to everybody
And don't forget about me.

(François Villon)

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La Ballade des Pendus

Gérard Philipe récite La Ballade des Pendus
(video by leonocusto2008)

Frères humains, qui après nous vivez,
N'ayez les coeurs contre nous endurcis,
Car, si pitié de nous pauvres avez,
Dieu en aura plus tôt de vous mercis.
Vous nous voyez ci attachés, cinq, six :
Quant à la chair, que trop avons nourrie,
Elle est piéça dévorée et pourrie,
Et nous, les os, devenons cendre et poudre.
De notre mal personne ne s'en rie ;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absoudre !

Se frères vous clamons, pas n'en devez
Avoir dédain, quoique fûmes occis
Par justice. Toutefois, vous savez
Que tous hommes n'ont pas bon sens rassis.
Excusez-nous, puisque sommes transis,
Envers le fils de la Vierge Marie,
Que sa grâce ne soit pour nous tarie,
Nous préservant de l'infernale foudre.
Nous sommes morts, âme ne nous harie,
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absoudre !

La pluie nous a débués et lavés,
Et le soleil desséchés et noircis.
Pies, corbeaux nous ont les yeux cavés,
Et arraché la barbe et les sourcils.
Jamais nul temps nous ne sommes assis
Puis çà, puis là, comme le vent varie,
A son plaisir sans cesser nous charrie,
Plus becquetés d'oiseaux que dés à coudre.
Ne soyez donc de notre confrérie ;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absoudre !

Prince Jésus, qui sur tous a maistrie,
Garde qu'Enfer n'ait de nous seigneurie :
A lui n'ayons que faire ne que soudre.
Hommes, ici n'a point de moquerie ;
Mais priez Dieu que tous nous veuille absoudre !

Here is an English rendering (A. S. Kline):

My brothers who live after us,
Don’t harden you hearts against us too,
If you have mercy now on us,
God may have mercy upon you.
Five, six, you see us, hung out to view.
When the flesh that nourished us well
Is eaten piecemeal, ah, see it swell,
And we, the bones, are dust and gall,
Let no one make fun of our ill,
But pray that God absolves us all.

No need, if we cry out to you, brothers,
To show disdain, if we’re in suspense
For justice’s sake. How few of the others,
Are men equipped with common sense.
Pray for us, now beyond violence,
To the Son of the Virgin Mary,
So of grace to us she’s not chary,
Shields us from Hell’s lightning fall.
We’re dead: the souls let no man harry,
But pray that God absolves us all.

The rain has soaked us, washed us: skies
Of hot suns blacken us, scorch us: crows
And magpies have gouged out our eyes,
Plucked at our beards, and our eyebrows.
There’s never a moment’s rest allowed:
Now here, now there, the changing breeze
Swings us, as it wishes, ceaselessly,
Beaks pricking us more than a cobbler’s awl.
So don’t you join our fraternity,
But pray that God absolves us all.

Prince Jesus, who has all sovereignty,
Preserve us from Hell’s mastery.
We’ve no business down there at all.
Men, you’ve no time for mockery.
But pray to God to absolve us all.

And here comes a surprise! leonocusto2008 offers you also a translation in Japanese:

「絞首罪人のバラード」 天沢退二郎訳
(『ヴィヨン詩集成』 白水社 2000)

おれたちの死後を生きてゆく人たち わが兄弟よ
おれたちのこの苦痛 だれも嘲笑(わら)わないでくれよ
どうぞや祈ってくれろ 神様のお許しがあるように。

とりなしてくれよ マリア様の息子さんに
おれたちは死んだんだ もういじめないでくれ
どうぞや祈ってくれろ 神様のお許しがあるように

あっちへぶーらこっちへぶーら 風の変わるまま
だから 間違ってもおれらの仲間にはなるなよ
どうぞや祈ってくれろ 神様のお許しがあるように。

人々よ もう冗談は抜きだよ
どうぞや祈ってくれろ 神様のお許しがあるように。

(François Villon)

(Gérard Philipe)

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François Villon

François Villon, Poet, Thief and Vagabond

(Le Parnasse des Lettres)


Théophile de Viau: Je Songeais Cette Nuit que Philis Revenue

It was quoted by Baudelaire in his Mon coeur mis à nu (published posthumously in 1887). The sonnet was written by Théophile de Viau, some time in the first quarter of the XVIIth century. One of the last baroque poets in French literature, never accepting the classicist constraints of Malherbe, stubborn in remaining in the universe of the late Renaissance, this was Théophile de Viau.

Maybe some explanations are needed for the modern reader. Philis and Damon (Phyllis and Demophoön) belong to the Greek mythology. Athenian king Demophoön was the son of Theseus and on his way back from the Trojan war he met Phyllis, daughter of Thracian king Lycurgus, and married her. The husband left however his wife behind and went further to Athens as he was bound to his royal duties. Phyllis waited for his return in vain and eventually committed suicide. Goddess Athena, taking pity of the unfortunate woman, turned her into an almond tree. The legend is told in Ovid's Heroides (Epistula II).

As for Ixion, this is another story: the guy was lustful for Hera, the wife of Zeus, no more no less! Thus the Supreme God sent to Ixion a cloud in the shape of Hera, to catch him red handed.

Let's come back to our sheep (the sonnet by de Viau).The illustration created by Arnaud d'Hauterives plays on the équivoque; as Neal Philip notes, its atmosphere of suppressed sexuality calls in mind Balthus.

Arnaud d'Hauterives, Le Plus Beau des Amants, 1991

Je songeais cette nuit que Philis revenue,
Belle comme elle était à la clarté du jour,
Voulait que son fantôme encore fît l'amour,
Et que, comme Ixion, j'embrassasse une nue.

Son ombre dans mon lit se glisse toute nue,
Et me dit : Cher Damon, me voici de retour ;
Je n'ai fait qu'embellir en ce triste séjour
Où depuis mon départ le sort m'a retenue.

Je viens pour rebaiser le plus beau des amants ;
Je viens pour remourir dans tes embrassements !
Alors, quand cette idole eut abusé ma flamme,

Elle me dit : Adieu ! Je m'en vais chez les morts.
Comme tu t'es vanté d'avoir foutu mon corps,
Tu pourras te vanter d'avoir foutu mon âme

Front matter of Boswell's copy of the 1732 edition of the Heroides, edited by Peter Burmann

Here is a German rendering of the legend of Phyllis and Damon. It belongs to Kleist:

Ja, liebster Damon! Ich bin überwunden,
Mein Geist empfindet, was er nie empfunden;
Ich fühl die von mir sonst verlachten Schmerzen
Jezt in dem Herzen.

Als ich die Hand jüngst, die dein Auge deckte,
Vorwitzig fortriß; Himmel! was erweckte
Dein schönes Auge, voller treuen Thränen,
Mir nicht für Sehnen!

Ich floh und weinte. Wie ward mir zu Muthe!
Ein heftig Feuer wallte mir im Blute.
Die Flammen werden unaufhörlich währen,
Die mich verzehren.

Komm treuster Damon! den ich mir erwähle,
Auf meinen Lippen schwebt mir schon die Seele,
Um durch die deinen, unter Scherz und küssen,
In dich zu fliessen.

John William Waterhouse - Phyllis and Demophoön, 1907


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Let's Meet Lilly Rivlin

Lilly Rivlin, a 7th generation Jerusalemite, has worked as a journalist, writer, and filmmaker for the last 35 years both internationally and in the U.S.

Most recently she consults to foundations on Middle East politics, Jewish affairs, Non-violent conflict resolution and Gender issues.

An active feminist, Lilly is one of the founders of the original Feminist Seder, a ritual maker, and serves on several Boards: International Committee of Women of the Wall, Meretz USA, The Counseling Center for Women in Israel.

Ms. Rivlin was a principle researcher on O Jerusalem, the book of Lapierre and Collins, and I would like to render here the opening page: quotations from the Holly Texts of three great religions; it is sacred place for all of them and for each of them.

4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget her cunning.
6 If I do not remember thee,
let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;
if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
(Psalm 137)

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
(Mathew 23:57)

O Jerusalem, the choice of Allah of all his lands! In it are the chosen of his servants. From it the earth was stretched forth and from it shall it be rolled up like a scroll.
The dew which descends upon Jerusalem is a remedy from every sickness because it is from the gardens of Paradise.
(The Hadith)

To whom should the Holly City belong? I think the correct question should be, When Will the Fighting Stop? It is the title of one of the books co-authored by Lilly Rivlin: a photographic essay which gives us a child's view on Jerusalem.


(A Life in Books)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ma Bohème recited by Bachouma

I will soon try to post some verses of Villon: distanced by hundreds of years, Villon and Rimbaud were (each in his own way) totally free spirits: free from the hypocrisy of morale, free from the hypocrisy of language. As for this poem of Rimbaud, I found on youTube a great rendering by Bachouma. Just enjoy!

Je m’en allais, les poings dans mes poches crevées ;
Mon paletot aussi devenait idéal ;
J’allais sous le ciel, Muse ! et j’étais ton féal ;
Oh ! là là ! que d’amours splendides j’ai rêvées !
Mon unique culotte avait un large trou.
- Petit-Poucet rêveur, j’égrenais dans ma course
Des rimes. Mon auberge était à la Grande Ourse.
- Mes étoiles au ciel avaient un doux frou-frou

Et je les écoutais, assis au bord des routes,
Ces bons soirs de septembre où je sentais des gouttes
De rosée à mon front, comme un vin de vigueur ;

Où, rimant au milieu des ombres fantastiques,
Comme des lyres, je tirais les élastiques
De mes souliers blessés, un pied près de mon coeur !

par Bachouma ; Terre, France, Paris, Bibliothèque Publique d'Information
(video by VizantOr)

The English rendering of Oliver Bernard (1962):

My Bohemian Life

I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets;
My overcoat too was becoming ideal;
I travelled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassal;
Oh dear me! what marvellous loves I dreamed of!

My only pair of breeches had a big whole in them.
– Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along my way.
My tavern was at the Sign of the Great Bear.
– My stars in the sky rustled softly.

And I listened to them, sitting on the road-sides
On those pleasant September evenings while I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead like vigorous wine;

And while, rhyming among the fantastical shadows,
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart!


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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Winter in Bucharest

It is the second video created by Monica Dutu that I'm watching. I'm speechless! A kind of sensibility to be found in Chinese and Nippon art.



Friday, February 19, 2010

Worst US Cities To Live

Cleveland, OH
brutal winds, overall violence, poor sport performance, do you need more?

Akron, OH

Gary, In

Philadelphia, PA

Buffalo, NY

Detroit, MI

St. Louis, MO

... and ...

Chicago, IL

according to Forbes

(America viewed by Americans)

The Pool is Flat

The Ultimate Bastion Against Global Warming
- from Media Bistro -

It is common knowledge that a mustache pays well. The pool needs a trampoline, though.

illustration by David Rees

Zoon Politikon)


Le Bateau Ivre

It was with an immense joy that I worked on this post. Le Bateau Ivre, The Drunken Boat, Corabia Beată, with each stanza such a feeling of liberation, of carelessness, floating on the waves du Poème de la Mer, infusé d'astres.

Comme je descendais des Fleuves impassibles,
Je ne me sentis plus guidé par les haleurs :
Des Peaux-Rouges criards les avaient pris pour cibles,
Les ayant cloués nus aux poteaux de couleurs.
As I was floating down unconcerned Rivers
I no longer felt myself steered by the haulers:
Gaudy Redskins had taken them for targets
Nailing them naked to coloured stakes.
Cum lunecam la vale pe-a apelor oglindă
N-am mai simţit odgonul întins de edecari:
Cu chiote, Piei Rosii-i luaseră drept ţintă
Legându-i, goi, pe maluri, de coloraţii pari.

Gérard Philipe récite Le Bateau Ivre
(video by daniellesoeur)

J'étais insoucieux de tous les équipages,
Porteur de blés flamands ou de cotons anglais.
Quand avec mes haleurs ont fini ces tapages,
Les Fleuves m'ont laissé descendre où je voulais.
I cared nothing for all my crews,
Carrying Flemish wheat or English cottons.
When, along with my haulers those uproars were done with
The Rivers let me sail downstream where I pleased.
De echipaje nu-mi mai păsa cum – că poartă
Bumbac din Englitera ori grâu din Flandra. – Când,
Cu edecarii-odată, se stinse orice ceartă,
Am fost lăsat de Fluvii oriunde să m-avânt.

Dans les clapotements furieux des marées,
Moi, l'autre hiver, plus sourd que les cerveaux d'enfants,
Je courus ! Et les Péninsules démarrées
N'ont pas subi tohu-bohus plus triomphants.
Into the ferocious tide-rips
Last winter, more absorbed than the minds of children,
I ran! And the unmoored Peninsulas
Never endured more triumphant clamourings
Eu, ce fusesem, iarna, mai surd decât un creier
De ţânc, am dat năvală prin al mareei val!
Şi nici un promontoriu atins de-al meu cutreier
N-a mai văzut vreun iureş atât de triumfal. 

La tempête a béni mes éveils maritimes.
Plus léger qu'un bouchon j'ai dansé sur les flots
Qu'on appelle rouleurs éternels de victimes,
Dix nuits, sans regretter l'oeil niais des falots !
The storm made bliss of my sea-borne awakenings.
Lighter than a cork, I danced on the waves
Which men call eternal rollers of victims,
For ten nights, without once missing the foolish eye of the harbor lights!

Furtunile-mi sfinţiră treziile marine.
Mai slobod decât dopul pe ape-am dănţuit
- Şi zice-se ca ele doar leşuri duc, haine -
Vreo zece nopţi, iar farul neghiob nu mi-a lipsit! 

Plus douce qu'aux enfants la chair des pommes sûres,
L'eau verte pénétra ma coque de sapin
Et des taches de vins bleus et des vomissures
Me lava, dispersant gouvernail et grappin.
Sweeter than the flesh of sour apples to children,
The green water penetrated my pinewood hull
And washed me clean of the bluish wine-stains and the splashes of vomit,
Carring away both rudder and anchor.
Curată, verde unda, mai dulce decât pare
Copiilor chiar mărul cel acru, m-a spălat
De vărsături şi pete de vin; zvârlind în mare
Şi ancora si cârma, în voie m-a lăsat. 

Et dès lors, je me suis baigné dans le Poème
De la Mer, infusé d'astres, et lactescent,
Dévorant les azurs verts ; où, flottaison blême
Et ravie, un noyé pensif parfois descend ;
And from that time on I bathed in the Poem
Of the Sea, star-infused and churned into milk,
Devouring the green azures; where, entranced in pallid flotsam,
A dreaming drowned man sometimes goes down;

De-atunci mă scald întruna în Marea lactescentă,
Ca-ntr-un Poem de aştri pătruns si devorând
Azurul verde-n care vreun înecat – absentă
Şi palidă stafie – coboară când şi când; 

Où, teignant tout à coup les bleuités, délires
Et rhythmes lents sous les rutilements du jour,
Plus fortes que l'alcool, plus vastes que nos lyres,
Fermentent les rousseurs amères de l'amour !
Where, suddenly dyeing the bluenesses, deliriums
And slow rhythms under the gleams of the daylight,
Stronger than alcohol, vaster than music
Ferment the bitter rednesses of love!

Şi-n care, dând culoare sălciilor seninuri -
Deliruri si cadenţe ascunse-n străluciri, -
Mai largi decât ni-e lira, mai tari ca orice vinuri,
Fac sa dospească fierea roşieticei iubiri! 

Je sais les cieux crevant en éclairs, et les trombes
Et les ressacs et les courants : je sais le soir,
L'Aube exaltée ainsi qu'un peuple de colombes,
Et j'ai vu quelquefois ce que l'homme a cru voir !
I have come to know the skies splitting with lightnings, and the waterspouts
And the breakers and currents; I know the evening,
And Dawn rising up like a flock of doves,
And sometimes I have seen what men have imagined they saw!
Ştiu bolţile ce crapă sub fulgerele dese,
Ştiu trombele, şi Seara, şi Zorii plini de-avânt -
Popor de porumbiţe, – şi am vazut, adese,
Tot ce crezuse Omul că vede pe pământ!

J'ai vu le soleil bas, taché d'horreurs mystiques,
Illuminant de longs figements violets,
Pareils à des acteurs de drames très antiques
Les flots roulant au loin leurs frissons de volets !
I have seen the low-hanging sun speckled with mystic horrors.
Lighting up long violet coagulations,
Like the performers in very-antique dramas
Waves rolling back into the distances their shiverings of venetian blinds!

Văzut-am cum un soare pătat de-un mistic sânge
Iluminează cheaguri prelungi şi viorii, -
Cum draperia mării, foşnind, sub zări îşi strânge
Talazurile – parcă eroi de tragedii!

J'ai rêvé la nuit verte aux neiges éblouies,
Baiser montant aux yeux des mers avec lenteurs,
La circulation des sèves inouïes,
Et l'éveil jaune et bleu des phosphores chanteurs !
I have dreamed of the green night of the dazzled snows
The kiss rising slowly to the eyes of the seas,
The circulation of undreamed-of saps,
And the yellow-blue awakenings of singing phosphorus!

Visat-am noaptea verde cu-omături uluite -
Săruturi care urcă în ochii mării, lent, -
Mişcarea unor seve în veci neauzite,
Fosforuri cântătoare arzând incandescent!


J'ai suivi, des mois pleins, pareille aux vacheries
Hystériques, la houle à l'assaut des récifs,
Sans songer que les pieds lumineux des Maries
Pussent forcer le mufle aux Océans poussifs !
I have followed, for whole months on end, the swells
Battering the reefs like hysterical herds of cows,
Never dreaming that the luminous feet of the Marys
Could force back the muzzles of snorting Oceans!

Urmat-am, luni de-a rândul, a valurilor turmă -
Ca nişte vaci zălude izbind în stânci, avan -
Făr-a visa că talpa Madonelor, din urmă
E-n stare a împinge puhavul Ocean!

J'ai heurté, savez-vous, d'incroyables Florides
Mêlant aux fleurs des yeux de panthères à peaux
D'hommes ! Des arcs-en-ciel tendus comme des brides
Sous l'horizon des mers, à de glauques troupeaux !
I have struck, do you realize, incredible Floridas
Where mingle with flowers the eyes of panthers
In human skins! Rainbows stretched like bridles
Under the seas' horizon, to glaucous herds!

Am dat peste Floride fantastice, în care
Erau ochi de pantere şi piei de om şi flori!
Treceam prin curcubeie întinse pe sub mare
Ca nişte haturi pentru verzuiele vâltori!

J'ai vu fermenter les marais énormes, nasses
Où pourrit dans les joncs tout un Léviathan !
Des écroulements d'eaux au milieu des bonaces,
Et les lointains vers les gouffres cataractant !
I have seen the enormous swamps seething, traps
Where a whole leviathan rots in the reeds!
Downfalls of waters in the midst of the calm
And distances cataracting down into abysses!

Văzut-am bolţi dospinde, cu stufărişuri, unde
Cu-ncetul putrezeşte câte-un Leviatan!
De-asemeni, cataracte care se pot ascunde
Sub calmul plat, când fierbe al apelor noian!

Glaciers, soleils d'argent, flots nacreux, cieux de braises !
Échouages hideux au fond des golfes bruns
Où les serpents géants dévorés des punaises
Choient, des arbres tordus, avec de noirs parfums !
Glaciers, suns of silver, waves of pearl, skies of red-hot coals!
Hideous wrecks at the bottom of brown gulfs
Where the giant snakes devoured by vermin
Fall from the twisted trees with black odours!

Gheţari, bolti de jăratec, sori de argint si aur
Şi sidefii talazuri, – epave-n vreun golf brun,
Unde, căzând din arbori scălâmbi, câte-un balaur
Mâncat de pureci, lasă un negricios parfum!

J'aurais voulu montrer aux enfants ces dorades
Du flot bleu, ces poissons d'or, ces poissons chantants.
- Des écumes de fleurs ont bercé mes dérades
Et d'ineffables vents m'ont ailé par instants.
I should have liked to show to children those dolphins
Of the blue wave, those golden, those singing fishes.
- Foam of flowers rocked my driftings
And at times ineffable winds would lend me wings

Aş fi dorit sa vadă copiii-această lume
A apei, – peştii-aceia de aur, cântători.
- Ieşeam în larg pe-un leagăn de înflorite spume,
Mă-nnaripa o boare de taină, uneori.

Parfois, martyr lassé des pôles et des zones,
La mer dont le sanglot faisait mon roulis doux
Montait vers moi ses fleurs d'ombre aux ventouses jaunes
Et je restais, ainsi qu'une femme à genoux...
Sometimes, a martyr weary of poles and zones,
The sea whose sobs sweetened my rollings
Lifted its shadow-flowers with their yellow sucking disks toward me
And I hung there like a kneeling woman...
Martir sătul de Zone si Poli, purtam pe buze
Suspinul mării – balsam pentru-ostenitu-mi trunchi;
Ea îmi zvârlea flori negre cu galbene ventuze -
Şi-ncremeneam precum o femeie, în genunchi…

Le Bateau qui Vibre et se Brise
(Le Monde)

Presque île, ballottant sur mes bords les querelles
Et les fientes d'oiseaux clabaudeurs aux yeux blonds.
Et je voguais, lorsqu'à travers mes liens frêles
Des noyés descendaient dormir, à reculons !
Almost an island, tossing on my beaches the brawls
And droppings of pale-eyed, clamouring birds,
And I was scudding along when across my frayed cordage
Drowned men sank backwards into sleep!

Eram aproape-un ostrov podit cu găinaţuri
De paseri cârcotaşe, cu ochi bălai, – plutind
Până simţeam că-n plasa de-odgoane şi de laturi
Coboara înecaţi, d-a-ndoaselea, dormind!

Turner, Le Bateau Négrier

Or moi, bateau perdu sous les cheveux des anses,
Jeté par l'ouragan dans l'éther sans oiseau,
Moi dont les Monitors et les voiliers des Hanses
N'auraient pas repêché la carcasse ivre d'eau ;
But now I, a boat lost under the hair of coves,
Hurled by the hurricane into the birdless ether,
I, whose wreck, dead-drunk and sodden with water,
neither Monitor nor Hanse ships would have fished up;

Velier pierdut sub părul atâtor mări pletoase,
Zvârlit de uragane-n eterul pustiit, -
Eu, căruia nici Hansa cu navele-i făloase
Nu mi-ar fi scos din apă scheletul cherchelit;

Libre, fumant, monté de brumes violettes,
Moi qui trouais le ciel rougeoyant comme un mur
Qui porte, confiture exquise aux bons poètes,
Des lichens de soleil et des morves d'azur ;
Free, smoking, risen from violet fogs,
I who bored through the wall of the reddening sky
Which bears a sweetmeat good poets find delicious,
Lichens of sunlight [mixed] with azure snot,

Eu, sloboda odraslă a fumului şi-a ceţii,
Ce sfredeleam chiar cerul, roşcat precum un zid
Ce poartă – hrană dulce, visată de poeţii
Blajini – licheni de soare şi muci de-azur limpid;

Qui courais, taché de lunules électriques,
Planche folle, escorté des hippocampes noirs,
Quand les juillets faisaient crouler à coups de triques
Les cieux ultramarins aux ardents entonnoirs ;
Who ran, speckled with lunula of electricity,
A crazy plank, with black sea-horses for escort,
When Julys were crushing with cudgel blows
Skies of ultramarine into burning funnels;

Eu, scândura năucă, smălţată cu planete
Electrice, şi trasă de hipocampi, pe când
Se prăvăleau, izbite de Iulie cu sete,
Ultramarine ceruri cu pâlniile-arzând;

Moi qui tremblais, sentant geindre à cinquante lieues
Le rut des Béhémots et les Maelstroms épais,
Fileur éternel des immobilités bleues,
Je regrette l'Europe aux anciens parapets !
I who trembled, to feel at fifty leagues' distance
The groans of Behemoth's rutting, and of the dense Maelstroms
Eternal spinner of blue immobilities
I long for Europe with it's aged old parapets!

Eu, ce simţeam la cincizeci de leghe depărtare
Maelstroamele şi chiţii gemând în rut, perechi -
Eu, torcătorul veşnic de-albastră nemişcare,
Duc dorul Europei cu parapete vechi!

J'ai vu des archipels sidéraux ! et des îles
Dont les cieux délirants sont ouverts au vogueur :
- Est-ce en ces nuits sans fonds que tu dors et t'exiles,
Million d'oiseaux d'or, ô future Vigueur ?
I have seen archipelagos of stars! and islands
Whose delirious skies are open to sailor:
- Do you sleep, are you exiled in those bottomless nights,
Million golden birds, O Life Force of the future? -

Văzut-am siderale arhipelaguri, plauri
Al căror cer bezmetic spre nave sta deschis:
- O, Vlaga viitoare, milion de păsări de-aur.
Ţi-s noptile acestea, loc de surghiun si vis?

Mais, vrai, j'ai trop pleuré ! Les Aubes sont navrantes.
Toute lune est atroce et tout soleil amer :
L'âcre amour m'a gonflé de torpeurs enivrantes.
Ô que ma quille éclate ! Ô que j'aille à la mer !
But, truly, I have wept too much!
The Dawns are heartbreaking.
Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter:
Sharp love has swollen me up with heady langours.
O let my keel split! O let me sink to the bottom!

Dar prea am plâns! Ajunge! Sfâşietori sunt zorii.
Cumplită-i orice lună, iar soarele-i amar:
M-a toropit iubirea, căci lâncezi i-s fiorii.
O, sparge-mi-s-ar trunchiul! în mare sa dispar!

Si je désire une eau d'Europe, c'est la flache
Noire et froide où vers le crépuscule embaumé
Un enfant accroupi plein de tristesse, lâche
Un bateau frêle comme un papillon de mai.
If there is one water in Europe I want, it is the
Black cold pool where into the scented twilight
A child squatting full of sadness, launches
A boat as fragile as a butterfly in May.
De mai doresc vreo apă din Europa, iată
E balta neagră, rece, pe care-n asfinţit
Un trist copil împinge, stând în genunchi, o biată
Bărcuţă, ca un flutur de Mai, abia iţit.

Je ne puis plus, baigné de vos langueurs, ô lames,
Enlever leur sillage aux porteurs de cotons,
Ni traverser l'orgueil des drapeaux et des flammes,
Ni nager sous les yeux horribles des pontons.
I can no more, bathed in your langours, O waves,
Sail in the wake of the carriers of cottons,
Nor undergo the pride of the flags and pennants,
Nor pull past the horrible eyes of the hulks.
O, nu mai pot să lunec prin vraja voastră, valuri
Menite cărăbuşii bumbacului să fiţi!
Nici să înfrunt trufia drapelelor, pe maluri,
Nici să plutesc sub ochii pontoanelor, cumpliţi!

(Tălmăcirea românească preluată din blogul lui tandresse4)


(Gérard Philipe)

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