Traduction & Translation

Starts With a Bang… Ends in a Whisper


JPEG - 76.5 kb


∞ Sonnet Monday
Now, this is my double bind (double blind?), a true one. I have an h in French (on my birth certificate from the 6th arrondissement in Paris) and none in Croatian (Croatian passport and birth certificate from the Yugoslav embassy, written in Cyrillic). So, depending on whether I feel French or Croatian I put an h or not. Sounds like Hitchcock, no?
Well, now at least you know to whom you are writing so often. The “split” personality figured in my double “état civil” (now I have even two family names!), allows me to feel quite faithful to each: dangerously free, that’s how I was defined in a recently read horoscope which definitely predicted we would have a fruitful relationship, and that I would have problems with my husband (hope it lies, but the truth is, it’s getting pretty tense, especially with my mother around). What I fear a bit is the period when kids will be off with my mother (from the 4th onwards), and most of my university work over.
Sunday, next time. S

• Monday Monday
Sara, I’m at the moment reading your mails and happy and relieved (it is long, to so wait, ain’t it?)
I will try to phone you in an hour or so. I hope you’re carrying the phone.
Kiss, Bertie

∞ Monday Monday
OK, if I don’t answer I’m in the tube. I have to run to the French-American commission for Fulbright and will be there all afternoon, until evening (réception au Sénat!). I might need to shut it, but you can leave me a message, and I’ll call you back right away. Until half past seven I guess.
Kiss S

• Dreaming Tuesday
Dearest Sara (without h — it is so much more special this way, for me anyway, if not for you), You say I am covering you with an avalanche of words and letters — possibly this will quieten down, who knows. We are at the difficult stage of trying to work out a rhythm between us, between you and me, between risk and oblivion, between joy and pain; it is a little like walking with a new person, not too fast not too slow, not to flow not too slast, a little like making love with someone for the first time (someone, what a name for you, but you’ll notice it ain’t got no h) — that’s what I was trying to express when I wrote “change of rhythm again to gain the knowledge of days”; that’s why I am inundating you with words (I have problem with my w’s with this keyboard).
I don’t feel you think there are too many words, it is simply that I have more time to do so, that words are the lake (the lake!) I spend most of my life diving in, and that I am using them to express what I feel, when it is not straightforward — you will notice the roundabout way I had to take to send you such a simple tiny sentence such as “I love you Sara”.
Also I am frightened, because our links are still very tenuous, because they are likely to become more so before they become less so, because I want to know so much more about you than I possess so far, because I cannot go on with simply an image of a smile, of two steel-blue soft eyes laughing crinklingly, of a short time spent in the hay, because writing to you is like speaking to somebody in Australia or on the moon, the delay is so long (now, 3 p.m., time to draw the two shades [inner and outer] of the West window and open the shade [only one there] of the East window, to avoid the heat).
You say that the tide will eventually ebb — we are mortals; but do you think this is what we should be worrying about now? there is so much I want to know, to feel, to touch — I am more worried about the tide ebbing before it has time to flow (I just had this image of Mont Saint-Michel — you know, where the tide is supposed to go faster than a galloping horse — this tide flowing, and all the water pouring into some great abyss [Aboli Bibelot d’Ynanité Sonore…] without being able to lap some of the sand); and lapping some of the sand of your body is what I intend to do (c’est ce qu’on appelle la position du “lapping”).
Although I’m not much a one for long term planning, our meetings in the future are pretty grim, aren’t they? never mind my crossing over to the States at some point — it will only be a point. And at the moment I dream of going with Bob and Chloé’s (my daughter and her boyfriend) boat to the Croatian beaches, lots of things that are impossible (in fact what I most often daydream about is this incredibly sweet moment in the Luxembourg). At the moment I desperately try to work out whether and when we can see each other (let alone touch) before you go off on your holidays.
I do hope I will have a phone call from you today.
Lapping kisses (different from Lappian kisses — but you can have some of those too),

• Morning-Moaning Wednesday
The evening’s coming down, I’ve just had a very long phone conversation with my oldest friends, to whom I hadn’t spoken for at least three years (they live in a mill right the other end of Britain, in fact in Wales). The turquoise is deepening slowly towards some kind of dark blue, a few silhouettes of trees (an oak, some poplars in the distance, the cypress and a mirabelle plum-tree in the foreground), the nightingale will be starting its song in half an hour or so (yesterday night, couldn’t sleep, went down to read a book [not very good] written by a friend and went back up when he mentioned Ode to a Nightingale — that’s when I noticed it was singing its head off, but a long way away).
I did tell them I had been smitten, and not with a contagious disease, and they huffed and they puffed, but I explained that that was how the cookie crumbled (the sky is now uniformly dark, still a shade of blue in it, what Sorrentino calls bluer than blue) and that since I was tickled pink and not as stupid as I was cabbage-looking, there was no need to huff and puff.
Anyway, it was nice talking to them and nice to be able to talk to someone about you; which I haven’t been able to do — only with you. And yes, smitten is the right word here. You smote me in Pau, and it’s been getting worse ever since. A lot of my time, when I’m not working (and even then) and when I don’t have that emptying feeling in my chest usually called missing someone, is a soft pæan to you, and I am sorry that my words do not do justice to the image which then fill my mind. I also spend some time (spend not really the right word here) trying to work you out in your context, from the various fragments you have given me, imagining you at home, among your kids (it was lovely listening to you jabbering away with Leo (6) about his dragon with black eyes), with husband, your mother, your friends, taking the tube, shopping… But I see and feel it is getting late and I’m afraid I would, if I went on, pour out nothing but rubbish — not only that but the dreaded mosquitoes are invading my study. So, I’ll to bed with a book and an anti-mosquitoe plug and some alcoholic beverage and try to have a good night sleep so as to take this up again in the morning.
And here we are again, 5 on the clock, a coffee in the stomach and a clope au bec; I’m an early bird (which is good as tomorrow I’ll have to be up at crack o’ dawn for my train leaves Montélimar — half-an-hour drive away — at quarter to six, then Saint-Ex, then Madrid, then Palma and my daughter, whom I’m meeting at the Avis counter, and here’s a photograph of her:
I am tired but I did sleep well, the nightingale has been replaced by the blackbirds, closer and, to my mind, with a more melodious and inventive song. I can’t help wondering what I’m getting into, can’t help wondering what you’re getting into, though I’m letting myself be carried away by the delight of knowing you, of knowing you’re taking some interest in me, of being allowed (the w problem recurs, allowed becoming alloed, which really is hallowed, i.e. sanctified; even better, this fragment of a Renaissance translation of the Æneid: “Her self standing neere the halloed altars, Naked in her oane foote, with frock vnlaced aparralyd”) to kiss you lips, I hope, next week.
Kisses, Bertie

• Promenade d’enfer Wednesday
Sara, Ouf! Worked out what can be done next week!
They are finally decided about doing something about Pseudodoxia Epidemica; email interview for Libé, phone interview for La Croix on Monday afternoon by Michel Crépu and something in the Monde soon. Tout espoir n’est donc pas perdu. My study is in shambles, books all over the place, Melville (great reader of Burton and Browne), Borges (dito), and a few others, and still I haven’t packed anything for tomorrow, nor checked the automatic watering for the vegetable garden. So, I can join you (in all senses of the word and world) wherever you wish on Tuesday whenever you think you will have finished working, and the same on Wednesday. In fact, I got the perfect alibi, a friend of mine in Marseilles, a publisher, with whom I will have lunch on Wednesday and who will be covering for me in case of need for the two nights. Hey, nifty, ain’t it? I can’t believe it, two whole nights with you, plus two evenings, plus two bare-feet breakfasts, or altogether bare breakfasts. Sometime life’s worth living, you know. And such a delightfully sprightly walking conversation with you today.
The Sonnets arrived today, so you must have gotten yours too.
I can arrive in Aix on Tuesday at either 18:57 or 20:10. You tell me.
Won’t write much more, maybe a word before going to bed early (got to leave here at 5 a.m.).
My daughter, and then you!
Kisses, Bertie

∞ Shakespeare Thursday
Cher Bertram,
Je voulais vous remercier de m’avoir fait envoyer votre traduction des Sonnets, cela m’a fait énormément plaisir. En découvrant l’enveloppe dans ma boite aux lettres cet après-midi, j’ai cru recevoir un autre exemplaire des livres de mon père: la surprise n’en était que plus heureuse, car ce cher Will est toujours incomparable. Curieusement, il m’attachera un peu plus à la France lorsque je traverserai les flots (At-lents-tiquent: on dirait que le temps s’écoule) pour aller encore Ailleurs (le sujet de ma thèse). Mais dites (médite?), terre année? Ma préférence y va toujours (quel ramassis d’inepties, je n’ai pas résisté). Grand bonjour à votre fille.

Just a brief note to tell you a cousin of mine is arriving on Tuesday to Paris from Florida, so I may need to delay my Tuesday morning trip until Wednesday. I’ll certainly go this week anyway, if I can consult the tapes at Ecritures Croisées. Could meet me there at 6 p.m., Wednesday, at any rate? Perhaps Tuesday. I must also check the hotels, but possibly la Tavernière or Cardinal.
xxx S

Feels pretty empty today, without the kids. Plenty things to do though.
Am worried about the message I left on your answering machine, hope nobody gets it except you. My University mail got completely stuck, it didn’t send my Friday (nor Thursday) messages. The postcard I sent was also written in quite a low mood. I hope it won’t depress you.
Must go.
xxxS (excess?)

• Marseille Friday
Hoping, of course, that you arrived back home safely and that you managed to do some work. I was exhausted and went to sleep at a quarter to nine, though I’ve been up since four. I arrived in Montélimar (train an hour late).
I won’t say much as I’m seeing you on Friday next week, only that I am full of you and that your smile hovers permanently in front of me. My hands were full of your perfume until I washed them.
Thank god for your existence.
Kisses, Bertie

• Missing you Saturday
Dearest Sara, Friday afternoon and trying to figure you as something else than a Cheshire smile in the streets of Aix, on a pillow or half-way down the floor on the side of the bed. Trying to figure you in context and where you are, for there is a need for hard reality, although you are now ever so real.
You know, retrieving the celebrated compound smile made of your lips and your eyes, the strong convex shape given to the former by your teeth, the steely-soft colour of the latter, softened by the sparkle in them. This, today, mixture of hope, despair, flesh memories and fresh memories, flash memories and slashed memories, moment carried in time, by time, searching for Ecritures Croisées without much wanting to find them; this terrible moment when two people turn their backs on each other, and what they both want is partly to turn back and partly to go on (whichever way those two verbs can be given meaning, as they both can be given a contrary meaning [what does one turn back to? what does one go on doing?]).
You mentioned I think the word sweet and sour, aigre-doux, bitter-sweet (I can’t remember which); aigre because one is eager, doux because one is doubting (a little far-fetched, I know).
And now Saturday morning, early (very), smitten (and how!), happy (in my bones), unhappy (in the absence of your bones), torn in so many frigments, fragments, figments, frigging moments, by the need to shout and the need to be silent, the need to write and the need to be spoken to, the night to writhe and the might to be woven into, the right to the night and the spoke of the wheel around which to be twisted (as you twist me round your little finger the way you would twist one of your hair).
This is a kind of attempt at a rhythm (what I’ve already called “change of rhythm again to get the full knowledge of the days”) that might lead to a sort of empathy, the feeling that, by the use of words, I am able to project myself into the object I am contemplating while at the same time feeling that the same words I use to give some physical presence to the object in my mind (you) could produce the same empathy in reverse — and here we are deeply involved into the Renaissance theories about humors, love and the eyes, wait a second, there is something in Burton that explains it better than I can (something that, strangely enough [but is it really strange?] also exist in Roubaud):
First Burton (p. 1277 in the French edition): “But the most familiar and usuall cause of Love, is that which comes by sight, which convayes those admirable rayes of Beauty and pleasing graces to the heart. Plotinus derives love from sight, ero quasi orasi [sorry, unable to place diacritics here on email] Si nescis oculi sunt in amore duces, the eyes are the harbingers of love, and the first step of love is sight, as Lilius Giraldus proves at large, hist. deor. syntag 13. they as two sluces let in the influences of that divine, powerfull, soule-ravishing, and captivating beauty, which, as one saith, is sharper then any dart or needle, wounds deeper into the heart, and opens a gap through our eyes to that lovely wound, which pierceth the soule it selfe: (Ecclus. 9. 8.) Through it love is kindled like a fire. This amazing, confounding, admirable, amiable Beauty, then which in all Natures treasure (saith Isocrates) there is nothing so majesticall and sacred, nothing so divine, lovely, pretious: ‘tis natures Crowne, gold and glory, bonum si non summum de summis tamen non infrequenter triumphans, whose power hence may be discerned, we contemne and abhorre generally such things as are foule and ugly to behold, accompt them filthy, but love and covet that which is faire.”
And next Roubaud (in my translation) “Love, through the intervention of this unknown young woman’s green-black eyes framed by the blonde arcs shaped like the tail of a thin comet, carried by the twin luminous beams of her gaze issuing from their windows, amongst the innumerable photons of her light coming to strike the glass of my telescope this fatal dawn of the fourth of June, had taken advantage of this medium at the same time material and immaterial, corpuscular and undulatory, visible and impalpable, to shoot an inextinguishable arrow into my heart. You are certainly aware, Princess, of the fact that Love’s arrow, essentially surjunctive as much as invariant through change of base, issues from one’s beloved and, sustained by the matchless light emanating thence, speeds toward you and penetrates you lissomly through your very eyes (its aim). There, after a circuitous route, of variable length but geodesically minimal, along your bloodstream, from vein to vein, vessel to vessel, setting your red corpuscles alight and freezing the white ones on the way, it finally comes to lodge in your heart, wounding it with the sweet, the cold, the burning wound that is called Love.”
What lengths I go to in my attempt to revivify a sprightly gesture, the curve of your neck, the warmth of your hip! To build links stronger than air, when these links will soon change into strangling ropes.
Kisses, Bertie

∞ Missing you Saturday
Missing me? But I’m here. And good news: I can read you! Even perhaps write to you. Did you get my postcard? Or my book filled with other two? I hope they won’t cause trouble. The rope is there, no doubt. But it still takes the form of a thread of words (dread?). I’m using an old computer which gets blocked every few minutes, so I’m pretty worried I’ll get stuck and caught in the middle of a message. But I’m still here. And waking with a Good morning Bertie on my mind.
Must go now.