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Dai Vaughan's "Pont Mirabeau"
pamphlet_01_parallel_texts.jpg

I've been reading CB Editions' new pamphlets/chapbooks, and lingering over Dai Vaughan's Parallel Texts, in part because he has threaded Apollinaire's "Le Pont Mirabeau" into the second group of poems, and "Mirabeau Bridge" is one of two early Apollinaire poems that give me goosebumps (the second is "Les colchiques") (and while I'm here at my computer getting goosebumps, I discover, the chicken legs I'm cooking for lunch, which started out frozen, are stewing in their juice, not good).

So here's the poem, my translation of some time ago, inspired by John Felstiner's translation of Paul Celan's "Death Fugue," in which the refrain starts out, as I recall, in English but gradually returns to its original German. Celan loved, and translated Apollinaire; when he committed suicide it is thought he jumped off Mirabeau Bridge.

 

Mirabeau Bridge

 

Under Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine

              And our loves

        Must I remember them

How joy would always follow pain

 

            Let night come the hour sound

            The days go by I remain

 

Hand in hand and face to face

            While under

      The arches of our arms flow

Eternal looks the weary waves

 

            Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure

            Les jours s’en vont je demeure

 

Love like this running water goes

            Away love goes

        How life is slow

And how violent is Hope

 

            Let night come the hour sound

            The days go by I remain

 

The days go by and weeks then

            Neither time past 

        Nor love will come again

Under Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine 

 

            Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure

            Les jours s’en vont je demeure