Poetry: Cecile Sauvage (translated by Emily Vogel)




Dans la brise, dans le vent,
Avec les feuilles, l’oiseau,
Avec la lune embuant
La pelouse de son eau,
Avec le murmure
Du depart
Et la chevelure
Du brouillard,
Envolons-nous, longs fantomes
Au vaporeux vetement,
Pales images de l’homme
Des bras, des tetes, des hanches
Emergent de la fumee
Avec des chutes de branches
Et des eclairs de ramee.

Envolons-nous doucement
Suivis de nos robes lentes
Qui se deroulent au vent
Et flottantes
Sont peut-etre la buee
De la plaine ou le brouillard
Qui caresse la ramee
Au depart.

Montons et tourbillonnons
En une danse affolee :
Laissons au loin les maisons
Assises dans la vallee.
Nos mains greles enclacees,
Entourons les pales monts
D’une ronde echevelee
Et d’un rire bas, rions
De nos fuites de fumees.


In the breeze, the hiss of wind
in the leaves, the red-wing, with the moon
blurring the lawn with its watery light,
with the murmur of departure
and the mist in our hair, let us all ascend,
long clothing like whispery ghosts,
blade-like images of a man’s arms,
head, hips emerging from the smoke
with falling branches, lightening
and skulls.

Let us all ascend slowly
trailed by the blowsing
of our dresses in the wind
perhaps like the mist on the plains
or mist caressing
the lightening, as it dissipates
in the distance.

Swirl and assemble
into a frantic dance; shake
the foundations of the houses
in the valley. Our slender hands
entwined, surround the mountains
with a low-sounding laugh,
laugh at our absconding like the mist.


Monde triste
Qui persistes
Dans l’imponderable azur,
Tes fumees,
Tes ramees,
Tes vallonnements obscurs,
Tes cris, tes gestes, tes danses
Sont comme un chant de silence
Dans le vent
Pour l’ame a jamais sereine
Qui flotte et passe lointaine
Menons une legere ronde
Autour du monde
Ou s’egosille un oiseau
Dans un bouleau,
Ou la chauve-souris est chere
Aux lueurs du reverbere,
Ou les ruisseaux doucement
Sous ka mousse se perdant
Resument dans un murmure
Les frissons de la nature.

Adieu, nos anciens foyers
Et les petits escaliers
De la vie reelle.
Cheminons legerement
Autour du monde ou l’arbre grele
Dans les bleus vallonnements
Berce son aile.

L’ame des amoureux nous suit
Et celle des jeunes gens,
Celle de quelques vieux aussi
Et des poetes indigents,
Et celle de l’idiot rieur
Qui se couronne de fleurs
Et regarde longtemps dans l’eau
Bouger les bouleaux.

Donnons-nous le main, indolents,
Et sourions en revant
Dans notre ronde sereine.
La lune pale mollement
Eclaire la terre, la plaine
Et les bleus vallonnements
Ou dans le plus doux bouleau
Chante un oiseau.


Sad world which persists
like the imponderable sky
with your mist and lightening,
your dark valleys, your cries, your gestures,
your dances like an inaudible song
of wind, pacify what subsists in us.
Never pass like a distance
but be present like a world,
a hoarse bird in a birch,
dark bat appearing in the glow
of its reverberating wings,
streams surging
into the foam of their shores
and resuming in a whisper,
a thrill.

Farewell, to our ancient homes,
small staircases of our former lives.
Hail the slight journey
around the world
or perhaps a tree in the blue valley,
which cradles the wings of birds.

Any notion of love follows us,
and the young people, and also that
of some old and indigent poets,
and that of the idiot wearing a flower-crown
and laughing, who looks long in the water
and watches the birches
oscillating in the wind.

Offer us a hand, with a lazy smile,
and dream into whatever continues to exist.
The pallid moon consumes the earth,
usual as a blue valley,
and the red-wing sings solemnly
in the birch.

I first learned of Cecile Sauvage while reading Simone De Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex,” in which Beauvoir lauded her work. From there I began a fervent reconnaissance of her poetry, and also discovered that she had a very close and passionate relationship with her son, the French composer, Olivier Messain, both while he was in the womb and after he was born. I was drawn to her work primarily because it raised concerns pertaining to birth and motherhood, which is a realm I am familiar with myself, after recently given birth to two children in two years. I felt an eerie kinship with this poet because of her fierce connection to her first child in infancy. I am also drawn to her symbolist approach to poetry, and a secondary subject in her work: a romantic relationship that she carried on with one of her publishers, via epistolary correspondence, something which broke her heart, and also kept her enduring.

Emily Vogel’s poetry, reviews, essays, and translations have most recently been published in Omniverse, The Paterson Literary Review, Lips, City Lit Rag, Luna Luna, Maggy, Lyre Lyre, The Comstock Review, The Broome Review, Tiferet, The San Pedro River Review, 2 Bridges Review, and PEN, among several others. She is the author of five chapbooks, and a full-length collection, The Philosopher’s Wife, published in 2011 by Chester River Press, a collaborative book of poetry, West of Home, with her husband Joe Weil (Blast Press), First Words (NYQ Books), and recently, Dante’s Unintended Flight (NYQ Books). She has work forthcoming in The Boston Review, Fiolet & Wing: An Anthology of Domestic Fabulism, and The North American Review. She teaches writing at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College and is married to the poet, Joe Weil.