Daniel’s Geometry: four poems translated by Timothy Adès

Robert Desnos (1900-45)

For the son of the composer Darius Milhaud, 1939. Published online in The High Window, December 2021.
Daniel’s Geometry: four poems translated by Timothy Adès
THROUGH ANY POINT ON A PLANE Through any point on a plane You can pass only one line perpendicular to the plane. So they say… But through all the points on my plane You can pass all the people and animals on earth So your perpendicular makes me laugh. And not just people and animals But plenty besides Pebbles Flowers Clouds My father and mother A sailing-boat A stovepipe And if I choose Four hundred million perpendiculars. MOEBIUS RING This round-returning road I run Won’t be the same when I’m half-done. No use my going straight ahead, It takes me somewhere else instead. I go right round but the heavens change. I was a youngster yesterday I’m a man today The world is strange. A rose that grows in rosy rows Is not like any other rose. THE ANGLE SUBTENDED… The angle subtended… One moment, what angle? I don’t want to know If it isn’t the angle The one where I’m grounded To count to one hundred Before shouting GO! You strangle me, angle, Engulfed and surrounded. La Belle Angleterre Not Angles but angels Fair England of legend. My eyes are shut tight, My night has descended. The angle subtended… THE PARABOLA Parabola hey! my nanna Parabola bored in its cage Rather be on the branch Branch too low Sun too high I watch birds fly To earth, to sky Branch too low Sun too high Funny birds Nest far from earth Branch too low Sun too high

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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