Freedom by Paul Éluard

A translation for Ukraine, and all the besieged.

“…a very simple wish, an everyday wish, a hardworking wish, to free oneself from the occupier.” – Paul Éluard

In my school-books
On my desk, on the trees
On the sand and on the snow
I write your name

On every page I read
On every blank page
Stone, blood, paper and ash
I write your name

On perspex screens
On soldiers’ guns
On the tyrant’s jewels
I write your name

In the forest on the steppe
On the nests on the thyme bush
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On the events of the night
On the day’s white bread
In the married seasons
I write your name

On all my sky blue rags
On the sun dried pool
On the vibrant lake of the moon
I write your name

On the fields of the horizon
On the wings of birds
And on the shadow’s engines
I write your name

On each wave of the dawn
On the sea on the boats
On the lost mountain
I write your name

On the froth of the clouds
On the sweat of the storm
On the thick and tasteless rain
I write your name

On the sparkling shapes
On the colours’ bells
On the real truth
I write your name

On the waking paths
On the rolled out roads
In the packed city squares
I write your name

With the light we switch on
With the light we switch off
On our gathered houses
I write your name

On the apple, cut in two
Of my mirror, and my room
On my bed’s empty frame
I write your name

On my gentle dog who eats so well
On her raised ears
On her clumsy paws
I write your name

On the diving board of my doorstep
On my everyday objects
On the surge of blessed fire
I write your name

On all the flesh of lovers
On the face of my friends
On every hand that’s offered
I write your name

On the window with its surprises
On attentive lips
Well above the silence
I write your name

On my destroyed shelters
On my fallen lighthouses
On the walls of my despair
I write your name

On unwanted absences
On naked loneliness
In my steps with death
I write your name

On the return of health
When risk has disappeared
On hope without memory
I write your name

And by the power of a word
I begin my life again
I was born to know you
To name you

Freedom.

V.120

I brush gently the leaves, and dust
pushing it from the dry black bricks
of my brain, and of the real street –
Its holes, gratings, posts, back alleys

stand in the bright cold above this –
the leaves replenish their yellows
and I breathe, letting life happen
despite it happening loudly –

Under the pavement, centipedes
slip around corners and thin pipes
cupped with silt. And wires web the town.
If you listen here, carefully,

place your ear against the drainpipe
that sinks beneath the street, you hear
like a half-forgotten dream sound
the far off ocean is breathing

and phantom children laughing – us,
but from a lighter, freer time –
the beach reaches both horizons
the one on the sky’s edge, and then

the other – where the wave’s instep
glows green or blue – glass in the sun –
I brush new sand from the black bricks
and then place my hands on the dunes

V.89

Pain in my hands as I hold them
grasping a book, obsolescence
staring me down across thirteen
futures, just those from that second –

Le Grande Chartreuse chants ply away
in chorus across the copper
and fibreglass, a chant of years
of imaginary journeys.

I can hear imaginary
thoughts of those who would use oldness
to justify anything new
they fancied the look of. Silence

for example. A lost image
which is strings of words and phrases
and none of it uncreated –
it was sung in old emotions

we learned (and we is a loose term)
in ages past (every term is)
when we were openings among
the trees. I mean to say that no

singer can by their song undo
hope, though the lost hope may argue.
No dice throw can abolish chance.
The new world will come regardless

V.63

The future doesn’t exist
only the moment exists, and the moment
is the moment of despair that the future does not exist.

There are no hopes.
There are only desires and deepest of those
the desire to have hopes.

I ride the bus back from town
having achieved a slight melancholy

and bought things I did not need
when I ‘should have been saving’
for the future I do not have.

Love once tore my head open
and everything inside fell on the ground.

Now, I feel no love.
And my head remains empty.
such is time’s slow dripping
and the cloud moves toward the horizon.

Should I be angry? No.
Should I want?
Should… faint red lines iterate upon the past and build to a revolution where hope is reborn as weak as it ever has been that we could one day find a place among things

Silenus

In the smooth dark the faun first arrives,
stepping from the skin of my best friend.
So much support has gone into this
and now we’re dancing and all call out
which classic films had taught us to love.
Things swim before my eyes, and I too
swim in these moments as I placate.
We are far from home and soon will leave
for those far shores again. Oh soft time.

Drinking whisky they dream or don’t dream
as is their need. The old bottles pall
as their blood is drunk. And the sober
watch on at the loud speeches and song
and the night becomes long. And yet still,
in this time and place where we cannot
get precisely what we want, and feel
pain, the smiles around us float on streams
of lesser darknesses and heat to boil

that pool of life’s worth again. We hear
Sigur Ros sing as we change places
again. And sit in the darkening
moments that fade, and look into eyes
we shall not see ’til other ages.
Silenus sits and watches smiling
before he scratches an ear puzzled.
Something seems not quite right to his eye.
He is wrong. There is nothing wrong here

Dove Builds a City in the City

A winter wind gusted
Dove heard it, rang through the archway

Her dark veins pulsed in the frost
Til the blood boiled over hope

Cracking the paving glade
Her crusting eye fixing on the mist
the dirt, the sand, beneath the skinnings

Crystals poured from her lungs
Piling growing strata of symbol
Resolving, concrete sinnings
Shimmer towers, seeding.

A winter wind blew
Dove heard it, and said
A winter wind taught us to dream

Cold Car in the Dawn

Each and every city morning
like countless fires extinguished falling
dark and letting darkness reign:
the people wake, in bursts, a flood
of living drowns the world again

Along the cold cracked-concrete roads
with cold-cracked paint, the living do
their to and fro about the earth
and driving quickly up and down –
each darkling dawn a swarming birth.

But in each cask, each bleary eye
sees dawning sun conduct the sky
in symphonies of light and shade
and sometimes from them tears are drawn
by dawnings from which days are made.

Though sufferers may infuse the world
in pleading song, and rightful hurl
sharp judgements out upon the head
of human shadows, enemies
who screaming wish the world were dead:

Shadows can vanish in the light
and leave the mind from time to time.
And wiping sand from out their eyes
we humans bear upon the sun
and bask resolving under skies