VOYELLESON THE SONNET OF THE VOWELS
Homage to Rimbaud
Arthur Rimbaudtrans. James Kirkup
A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes:
A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,

Golfes d'ombre; E, candeurs des vapeurs et des tentes,
Lances des glaciers, rois blancs, frissons d'ombelles;
I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles
Dans la colère ou les ivresses pénitentes;

U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides,
Paix des pâtis semés d'animaux, paix des rides
Que l'alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux;

O, suprême clairon plein des strideurs étranges,
Silences traversés des Mondes et des Anges:
- O, l'Oméga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux!
A crimson, August, pavilion of blood,
summer fanfares, fading in eloquence
of E - a bitter orange solitude
in castled autumn's golden decadence
midwinters invalid I, pale lemon.
Then green exclamatory O of spring -
emerald garlands of snow and blossom.


Ultramarine and azure seasons bring
blue U back into June - deep sapphire mists
ghosting the sleepless lamplight's rosy rains
to deepen dawn's faint lilac-tinted panes
in liquid violet of sombre Y -
symbol of symmetry and ancient trysts,
midnight groves, mystic indigo July.

Translator's note: I have often noticed that Japanese poets, when translating haiku into English,
compose what is virtually a new poem, while preserving the theme and the spirit of the original.
I have adopted this method in making (this) translation.

Click here 4 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. copyright © James Kirkup 2001 - published in Modern Poetry in Translation, no.16.



next
index
translator's next