Translated from French




the child mimics the day
among the shafts of night
he poses for wisdom
he holds his joy
like an apple in his house




l’enfant joue à ressembler au jour
entre les jambes de la nuit
il pose pour la sagesse
il tient sa joie
comme un fruit dans sa maison


from Parole rencontre (Word Meeting), Atelier du grand tétras, 2008







I speak to share the silence
that drives all words
yes what’s called
hearing each other
hearing what you did not say
what others were going to say
I speak
to transform the silence
this is how we talk to each other
when what is said
does not stifle
this silence




je parle
pour partager le silence
qui pousse tous les mot
soui ce qu’on appelle
ce que tu n’as pas dit
ce que les autres allaient dire
je parle
pour transformer le silence
c’est ainsi qu’on s’entreparle
quand ce qu’on dit
n’étouffe pas
ce silence


from La vie je cours (Life I Run), Tipaza, 2008







the river is me in you you in me
we cast the movements of our dreams
every moment floods us
we hang all our words
on the trees so that the words open
so that they mark
our way
and we walk as we sleep
the unknown is our voice
it leads us
now above now below
chaos after chaos
unending my river
day after day




le fleuve c’est moi en toi toi en moi
nous y coulons les mouvements de nos rêves
tant chaque instant nous déborde
nous accrochons tous nos mots
aux arbres pour qu’ils s’ouvrent
pour qu’ils marquent
notre chemin
et nous marchons comme on dort
l’inconnu est notre voix
il nous mène
présent dessus présent dessous
désordre après désordre
sans fin mon fleuve
le jour le jour


from Et la terre coule (And the Earth Flows), Arfuyen, 2006







images clouds
head rain
the landscape is inside
I have hills in my arms
the river
sleeps in my eyes
when I wake I have
birds in my hair




images nuages
tête pluie
le paysage est dedans
j’ai des collines dans les bras
la rivière
dort dans mes yeux
quand je me reveille j’ai
des oiseaux dans les cheveux


from Tout entier visage (Whole Face), Arfuyen, 2005







we could see
the day as
a yawn
a glow
in the night
but maybe
the opposite is true
a scrap of night
that travels
through our mouths
when we try
to regain
the breath of the day




on pourrait voir
le jour comme
un bâillement
une lueur
dans la nuit
mais peut-être
c’est l’inverse
un bout de nuit
qui nous passe
par la bouche
quand on essaie
de retrouver
le souffle du jour


from Je n’ai pas tout entendu (I Did Not Hear Everything), Dumerchez, 2000




Henri Meschonnic (1932–2009) is a key figure of French “new poetics,” best known worldwide for his translations from the Old Testament and the 710-page Critique du rhythme. During his long career, Meschonnic generated controversy in the literary community. His poems appear in more than a dozen languages; however, even now, almost none of Meschonnic’s poems have been translated into English. His poetry has received prestigious awards, including the Max Jacob International Poetry Prize, the Mallarmé Prize, the Jean Arp Francophone Literature Prize, and the Guillevic-Ville de Saint-Malo Grand Prize for Poetry.

Don Boes is the author of Good Luck With That, Railroad Crossing, and The Eighth Continent, selected by A. R. Ammons for the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The Louisville Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, CutBank, Zone 3, Southern Indiana Review, and The Cincinnati Review.

Gabriella Bedetti studied translation at the University of Iowa and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her translations of Meschonnic’s essays and other writings have appeared in New Literary History, Critical Inquiry, and Diacritics. Meschonnic was a guest of the MLA at her roundtable with Ralph Cohen and Susan Stewart.