NaPoMo: E.E. Cummings and Paul Éluard

National Poetry Month (aka April, aka The Cruelest Month) is almost over and I thought I should squeeze in a couple more poems before it’s too late.  After all, what better time to read poems than National Poetry Month, right?

I’m even posting two, count ’em, two poems today, extra-specially for your double poetry enjoyment.  These are two poems that happen to be on a similar theme, both of which I fell in love with in high school. As you’ll soon be able to guess, I was pretty into love poems back then.

On another note, it’s probably a sign that I had some pretty great teachers in high school — the fact that I got to read and love stuff like this.  Kids Today (if I am to believe what my whippersnappers tell me) don’t read much of anything in high school English class outside of The Odyssey and Beowulf.  Worse than that, all evidence points to the fact that in their high school foreign language classes they don’t read much of anything at all, not having managed to learn enough of the language in question to make that a possibility.  BUT I DIGRESS.

Moving on! Poems!

This one is by E.E. Cummings, that man who should probably be blamed for the insistence of sensitive girls everywhere to write in all lowercase.  In spite of that, I still love him.  This is my favorite E.E. poem:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Yes, the spacing and punctuation above is as written.  No, I don’t know why an American poet chose to write “colour” instead of “color.” You get to do that if you are a poet.

This one is by Paul Éluard, darling of my French class and object of an enduring literary crush due to poems like this one.  There are a couple of dubious English translations online, here and here.  You’ll note that the translators can’t even agree on what the title of this poem actually is.  Sigh.  Here’s the original:

On ne peut me connaître
Mieux que tu me connais

Tes yeux dans lesquels nous dormons
Tous les deux
Ont fait à mes lumières d’homme
Un sort meilleur qu’aux nuits du monde

Tes yeux dans lesquels je voyage
Ont donné aux gestes des routes
Un sens détaché de la terre

Dans tes yeux ceux qui nous révèlent
Notre solitude infinie
Ne sont plus ce qu’ils croyaient être

On ne peut te connaître
Mieux que je te connais.

NB: If you’re looking for poetry on the internet, be prepared to find a lot of fucked up stuff.  I looked for the text of these poems online so I could lazily copy and paste them here instead of typing them out again from my books, but in almost every instance, I found transcriptions that were rife with errors.  Line breaks and stanza breaks in the wrong places, spelling errors, missing words.  It made me a bit sad.  So Internet, I send out to you two correctly transcribed poems.  You are welcome.

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2 thoughts on “NaPoMo: E.E. Cummings and Paul Éluard

  1. Kristen April 26, 2009 / 4:34 pm

    God, doesn’t it break your heart that anyone could take the time to put a poem on the internet, but not be bothered with such drivel as, you know, WHERE A NEW FUCKING LINE STARTS? It’s not like poets just broke shit at random. Ugh.

    Now, off to tell you about one of my favorite poems at my blog 🙂 Thanks for lighting a fire under my ass.

  2. John May 1, 2009 / 1:53 pm

    The English translations of Eluard’s poem don’t do it justice. I like this one by Robert Frost:

    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

    Whose woods these are I think I know,
    His house is in the village though.
    He will not see me stopping here,
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer,
    To stop without a farmhouse near,
    Between the woods and frozen lake,
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake,
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep,
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

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