Thursday, October 6, 2011

A poem by Robert Desnos in my translation from the French

L'anneau de Moebius

Le chemin sur lequel je cours

Ne sera pas le même quand je ferai demi-tour

J'ai beau le suivre tout droit

Il me ramène à un autre endroit

Je tourne en rond mais le ciel change

Hier j'étais un enfant 

Je suis un homme maintenent

Le monde est une drôle de chose

Et la rose parmi les roses

Ne ressemble pas à une autre rose.

Mobius Ring

The road I run along

today is not the same one

I set out upon, and went straight on

it takes me back beyond where I’d begun

I've come round but the sky

is not the same. Yesterday I

was a child now I am a man

the world grows, a shifting design

and every single rose, you’ll find

is different than the rose in mind.

Translated by Holly Woodward

Adapted fromWikipedia:

Robert Desnos was a French surrealist poet who fought in the Résistance during the Nazi occupation. The Gestapo arrested and deported him to Auschwitz, then Buchenwald, Flossenburg, and Terezin.

One day, Desnos and other prisoners were taken in the back of a flatbed truck; they knew the truck was going to the gas chamber; no one spoke. Soon the truck stopped and the guards ordered them off. When they began to move toward the gas chamber, suddenly Desnos jumped out of line and grabbed the hand of the woman in front of him. He was animated and he began to read her palm. He told her that she would have a long life, many grandchildren, abundant joy. A person nearby offered his palm to Desnos. Here, too, Desnos foresaw a long life filled with happiness and success. The other prisoners came to life, eagerly thrusting their palms toward Desnos and, in each case, he foresaw long and joyous lives.

The guards became visibly disoriented. Minutes before, they were on a routine mission the outcome of which seemed inevitable, but now they became tentative. Desnos was so effective in creating a new reality that the guards were unable to go through with the executions. They ordered the prisoners back onto the truck and took them back to the barracks. Desnos never was executed.

Desnos died in "Malá pevnost", which was an inner part of Terezín used only for political prisoners, from typhoid, only weeks after the camp's liberation. The poems he wrote during his imprisonment were accidentally destroyed after his death.