Jul 012012
 

 

Heiress to a French seed company fortune, Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin (1902 -1969) was a whirlwind of affaires du coeur as well as publications. Among her amorous conquests: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Orson Welles, Prince Ali Khan, a Hungarian count, Duff Cooper (British ambassador to France after World War II) and André Malraux. While setting the social world on fire she also managed to write fifteen novels, five books of poetry and ghost-authored the memoirs of Coco Chanel.  Her most famous novel was Madame de, which was made into a movie by Max Ophuls called The Earrings of Madame de…, starring Charles Boyer.

Here are several bitter little poems and my translations.

— Marilyn McCabe

 

 

Fiancée

Fiancée aux mille détours
Que cachez-vous dans votre manche ?
Est-ce la carte d’un séjour
Où le rêve en gestes s’épanche ?
Est-ce le plan de vos revanches
Sur le vol d’un baiser vautour ?

(from L’alphabet des aveux, 1954)

Fiancée

Fiancée of a million deviations
what do you hide up your sleeve?
Is it a postcard
from the place where dreams are discarded?
Is it your revenge plan:
a vulture’s kiss: stolen and flown?

 

Fleurs

Fleurs promises, fleurs tenues dans tes bras,
Fleurs sorties des parenthèses d’un pas,
Qui t’apportait ces fleurs l’hiver
Saupoudrées du sable des mers ?
Sable de tes baisers, fleurs des amours fanées
Les beaux yeux sont de cendre et dans la cheminée
Un cœur enrubanné de plaintes
Brûle avec ses images saintes.

(from Fiançailles pour rire, 1939)

Flowers

Flowers of promises, bouquet in your arms,
flowers fallen like the parenthesis of a footprint, no
one knows who brought the flowers winter
scattered on the shore?
Sands of your kisses, flowers of faded ardor,
their beautiful eyes are cinders and on the hearth
a heart enribboned with cries
burns with holy fire.

 

Adieux

Les mots sont dits, les jeux sont faits
Toutes couleurs toutes mesures,
Le danger cueille son bouquet,
Aux falaises de l’aventure
Je ne reviendrai plus jamais.

Adieu chapeau de Capitaine
Adieu gais écheveaux du vent,
Astre du Nord, étoile vaine,
Un baiser est au firmament
Des jardins où je me promène.

Adieu bateaux au jour défaits,
L’heure attendue est bien venue,
L’amour me choisit mes secrets.
À la tour des peines perdues
Je ne monterai plus jamais.

(from Le Sable du sablier, 1945)

Goodbyes

The words were said, the plays were made,
all colors, all measures,
danger picked its wild bouquet.
To the cliffs of this adventure
I will never return.

Goodbye captain’s hat.
Goodbye gay skeins of wind,
north star, vain éclat,
your kiss is in the heaven
over the garden I am lost in.

Goodbye ships of defeated days,
the waited hour is well come;
love chose me my pains.
To that widow’s-walk of sweet affliction
I will never climb again.

 — Translations by Marilyn McCabe

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Marilyn McCabe’s book of poetry Perpetual Motion was chosen by judge Gray Jacobik to be published as part of the Hilary Tham Capital Collection by The Word Works in 2012, and her chapbook Rugged Means of Grace was published by Finishing Line Press, 2011. She is a regular contributor of poetry book reviews for Connotation Press, and her poetry has appeared in print and online in such magazines as Nimrod, Painted Bride Quarterly, Numéro Cinq, and the Cortland Review. She has twice been awarded New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist grants, most recently in 2012 for the development of a video-poem.

 

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