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Five Poems

Chris Monier

Georges Schehadé (1905-1989) was a French-language Lebanese writer who spent his life between Beirut and Paris. While perhaps better known for his drama (some of which has received translation, including by Ted Hughes), Schehadé also published beautiful cycles of short poems throughout his life, collected as the Poésies, in volumes I-VII. Excerpted below in translation, the poems are all untitled.


My mother who was more of a poet than me
My mother wrote to her sister
Like an earth the voice is soft

For this cheek a rose, a book for this one

(Poésies I; xii)


To the child who runs in a forest full
Of silken calls
I say that I prefer
The one who sleeps in a June garden
With a slight penalty
For the solitude of images
And the dawn and the stealers of water

(Poésies II; vi)


When the night is brightly strewn
And thought untouchable
I say mountain flower to say
I say liberty to say despair
I go, woodcutter with my steps
To mislead the lies
In a wooded forest
Full of justice and song

(Poésies II; vii)


Under leaves indifferent to the avid bird
I say the apples are ripe and beautiful
In the morning’s sadness
I speak of a rose more precious
Than the wrinkles of the gardener

Because the books are in the bedrooms
Because there is water in the body of lovers

(Poésies III; xv)


Once again it’s autumn
The garden runs after its leaves

No one is there :
The windows the people
But the wind

A forgotten moon is
In the sky like some figure

In memory of the great summer
Drink—a fountain was saying

(Poésies VI; xvii)


Chris Monier is a doctoral student at Oxford. His work takes a comparative approach to Caribbean poetry and is funded by the Creative Multilingualism research initiative.