FRÊNE HAUTAIN ...THE ASH TREE
Jean Vauquelin de la Fresnayetr. James Kirkup (tanka)
Frêne hautain, forestier et champêtre
L'arbre premier de tant d'arbres divers,
L'arbre immortel au renom de mes vers,
L'arbre aux serpents toujours odieux maître;


Le coudre rompt, mais tu te fais connaître
Propre à la guerre et jamais de travers
De toi tortu les monts ne sont couverts,
Ains haut et droit toujours as voulu naître;


Je fais mes dards, pour tous mes arcs, de toi,
Les forestiers en font de même moi,
Et Panarèthe en fait les siens encore:


Phébus aussi en patronne ses traits,
Sa chaste soeur son carquois en décore,
Ainsi au bois as tous noms satisfaits.
Tall ash, who love both
wood and field, of so many
various trees the first -
you immortal tree that in verse
celebrates my name, the tree

that is the master
of all odious serpents.
The hazel tree splits -
but you have proved apt for war.
You do not clothe the hills with

twisted shapes, but thus -
lofty and straight you always
flourish from your birth.
From you alone I select
the arrows for all my bows.

The foresters do
the same, and Panarethe
makes hers of them too:
Phoebus also employs you
to dart his rays; and his chaste

sister orb, the moon,
decorates her quiver with
your shafts. - In such ways
you give satisfaction to
all who seek you in the woods.

Trans. Copyright © James Kirkup 2002


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