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Showing posts from February, 2010

Two more by Follain

Two poems by Jean Follain

Signs for Travellers

Travellers from the great spaces
when you see a girl
twisting in sumptuous hands
the black vastness of her hair
and when moreover
you see
near a dark baker’s
a horse lying near death
by these signs you will know
that you have come among men.

(Translated by W.S. Merwin, from Transparence of the World: Jean Follain, Copper Canyon Press, 2003)

The Red Apple


Tintoretto painted his dead daughter
carriages were moving in the distance
the painter died in turn
today long rails
girdle the earth
and carve it up
the Renaissance resists
in the chiaroscuro of museums
voices break
often even the silence
seems exhausted
but the red apple remains.

(Translated by Stephen Romer in Into the Deep Street, Seven Modern French Poets 1938-2008, Edited and translated by Stephen Romer and Jennie Feldman, Anvil Press, 2009)

Dazzling nails

A free-ish version of Follain's 'Quincaillerie'.


Hardware Store

after Jean Follain

In a country hardware store
men come to buy
screwdrivers and wrenches
their hair is grey their hair is red
neatly flattened or flying wild.
A bluish air fills the serious spaces,
into its iron tang women set loose
the scent
of themselves.
Just to touch the spotless bolts and drills
is to feel the irresistible
weight of the world.

The hardware store floats towards the stars
selling, until no-one wants for them,
nail after dazzling nail.