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20 February 2014

Raymond Queneau - Poems

Edinburgh Bilingual Library, 1972
"Anthology of contemporary French poetry"
Edited and translated
Graham Dunstan Martin, Lecturer in French, University of Edinburgh
General Editor
A.A. Parker, Professor of Spanish, University of Texas
Editorial Board
C.P. Brand
A.J. Steele

For an Ars Poetica

1. A POEM'S nothing much
hardly more than a cyclone in the West Indies
a typhoon in the China Sea
an earthquake in Formosa

One flooding of the Yang Tse Kiang
drowns off a hundred thousand Chinese at one go
it doesn't even make the subject of a poem
Nothing much

We get along nicely in our little village
we're going to build a new school
we're going to choose a new mayor and change the market days
we used to be at the centre of the world now we're near
river Ocean gnawing away the horizon

A poem's nothing much

5. Lord lord how I want to write a little poem
Goodness there's one just passing
Darling darling darling
come here so I can thread you
on the necklace of my other poems
come here so I can bottle you
in the pill of my collected works
come here so I can bardolize you
and rime you
and rhythm you
and lyric you
and high-horse you
and verse you
and prose you

blast it
she's buggered off

9. This evening
what if I wrote a poem
for posterity?

what a good idea

I'm feeling sure of myself
here goes

post erity
I say shit and shittagen
and shittagen

caught you there
waiting for your poem

and how