Francis R. Jones’s translations of Serbian poet Ivan V. Lalić in Modern Poetry in Translation

The poettrio experiment’s principal investigator Francis R. Jones has had his translations (Serbian –>English) of three poems from Pismo by Ivan V. Lalić (1931 -1996) published in the new issue of Modern Poetry in Translation 2017 Number 3 – War of the Beasts and the Animals

Here is one of the poems, shared for free on their website. Visit their site and buy the issue for more.

In Praise of Sleeplessness

Unsleeping eyes which do not only see
Wallpaper patterns and the morning’s stain
Can read a future summer’s history
Painstakingly hand-written by the rain –
For each leaf’s destiny a single line
Attests to form: each drop’s semantics dream
The future garden’s shape, or the design
Of empty skies which sparkle, skies which scream.

The dreadful blessing of a waking night
Is felt when patience unbraids, from inside,
The eyes, then shifts the broadened roots of sight 
To form new roads where new images ride –
A star is bursting into blooms of sea,
And in a glass of water, silence glitters,
Time after time your pasts keep breaking free, 
No sea could taste as beautiful, as bitter.

Insomnia brings a fresh sleep into play:
Your waking self works on another plane – 
Made in the old day’s image, the new day
Has grown a shadow, so is not in vain;
You take your coat, your keyturn still ignites 
The engine – acts exact but other-led – 
Polysemy sings at the traffic lights,
Weaves a new fabric with three hues of thread…

All those who feel by night that time’s unsure 
Will give a different structure to their day, 
From hour to hour; bound by its simple law, 
They ask ‘Is there a structure anyway?’ 
Insomnia spawns another sort of sleep:
The waking state which recreates you teems
With this new sleep, just as rainwaters seep 
Through desert sands. And in it, freedom gleams –

For those who stay awake, nights are elsewhere, 
A star is bursting into blooms of sea,
Primeval forests, choking, drink the air
And water of a summer still to be;
Last image: sleepless eyes, just like a rear- 
View mirror filled with road as it’s unrolled 
To nothing, glimpse at Eden as they peer 
Into the final sleeplessness, the fold.

 

Author: The Poettrio Experiment

An AHRC funded investigation into poetry translation trios led by Francis Jones, Bill Herbert and Fiona Sampson with Rebecca May Johnson & Sergio Lobejón Santos

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