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SOIR (français / anglais)

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SOIR 

“No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs...”

(Aucun simulacre les concernant, aucune prière ni clocher
Ni voix de deuil ne sauvent les chœurs…)

            Wilfred Owen,

            Anthem for Doomed Youth

            (Antienne pour les jeunes morts)

 

Le temps derrière la vitre va et vient

Parmi les feuilles jaunissant du jardin.

 

Tel un calligraphe de génie,

Il marque celles qui doivent bientôt

Se séparer des branches où elles virent

La lumière un beau jour de printemps.

 

Je reste transis devant l’habileté de ses mains,

Devant l’imperceptible géométrie

De ses gestes !

 

Et des voix de syllabes oubliées

Viennent sonner à mon oreille,

Se suspendent à mes paupières

Avec la délicatesse de voiles

Qui rentrent fatiguées au port.

 

Syllabes dans lesquelles les millénaires

Ont déposé leurs trésors de tendresse.

 

Et soudain, ô mon âme, je comprends

Pourquoi l’amour

Est le seul instrument de mesure

De l’univers.

 

Pourquoi sur les lèvres des saints

Les mots deviennent

Des buissons ardents,

Des montagnes de diamants

Et d’émeraudes !

            Athanase Vantchev de Thracy

A Paris, ce dimanche 6 novembre, Anno Domini MMV

Glose :

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) : poète britannique. Ses premiers poèmes, , écrits en 1913, alors qu’il était précepteur près de Bordeaux, sont consciemment influencés par Keats. A pratir de janvier 1917,il devint poète de la guerre., dont il dénonça la cruauté avec un pouvoir d’évocation exceptionnel. Il fur rapatrié en 1917 pour invalidité et se lia d’amitié avec Siegfried Sassoon, dont les conceptions poétiques influencèrent les siennes. Il repartit en France comme officier en août 1918 et mourut le 8 novembre au champ d’honneur, trois jours avant l’armistice. Ses poèmes, aussitôt célèbres,  furent mis en musique par Benjamin Britten dans son War Requiem (1962).

ENGLISH (My translation) :

EVENING

‘No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs...’

            Wilfred Owen,

            Anthem for Doomed Youth

 

The time behind the window-pane goes and comes

Among the leaves of the garden turning into yellow.

 

Such a brilliant calligrapher,

He marks those who soon have to part

From branches where they saw

The light a beautiful spring day.

 

I remain numb in front of the skill of his hands,

In front of the imperceptible geometry

Of its gestures!

 

And voices of forgotten syllables

Come to ring at my ear,

Hang from my eyelids

With the delicacy of sails

Which return tired into the port.

 

Syllables in which the millenniums

Put down their treasures of tenderness.

 

And suddenly, ô my soul,

I understand

Why the love

Is the only measuring instrument

Of the universe.

 

Why on the lips of the saints

The words become burning bushes,

Mountains of diamonds

And emeralds!

 

Notes:

Wilfred Owen, the son of a railway worker, was born in Plas Wilmot, near Oswestry, on 18th March, 1893. Educated at the Birkenhead Institute and at Shrewsbury Technical School, he worked as a pupil-teacher at Wyle Cop School while preparing for his matriculation exam for the University of London. After failing to win a scholarship he found work as a teacher of English in the Berlitz School in Bordeaux France.

Although he had previously thought of himself as a pacifist, in October 1915 he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, he joined the Manchester Regiment in France in January 1917. While in France Wilfred Owen began writing poems about his war experiences.

In the summer of 1917 Owen was badly concussed at the Somme after a shell landed just two yards away. After several days in a bomb crater with the mangled corpse of a fellow officer, Owen was diagnosed as suffering from shell-shock.

While recovering at Craiglockhart War Hospital he met the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Owen showed Sassoon his poetry. Sassoon advised and encouraged him. So also did another writer at the hospital, Robert Graves. Sassoon suggested that Owen should write in a more direct, colloquial style. Over the next few months Owen wrote a series of poems, including Anthem for Doomed Youth, Disabled, Dulce et Decorum Est and Strange Meeting.

Sassoon introduced Owen to H. G. Wells and Arnold Bennett and helped him get some of his poems published in The Nation. Owen also had talks with William Heinemann about the publication of a collection of his poems.

In August 1918 Owen was declared fit to return to the Western Front. He fought at Beaurevoir- Fonsomme, where he was awarded the Military Cross. Wilfred Owen was killed by machine-gun fire while leading his men across the Sambre Canal on 8th November 1918. Three days later the Armistice was signed. Only five of Owen's poems were published while he was alive. After Owen's death his friend, Siegfried Sassoon, arranged for the publication of his Collected Poems (1920).