A beautiful beam of light


Tell me Alice, what is the difference
between right away and a pearl? A pearl
is milk white and right away is at once:
this is a good explanation indeed
Happily very happily Alice
embroidered linens and Gertrude threaded
strands of silken words
                      through page after page
Neither woman felt interdiminished
For Guillaume Apollinaire crystal tears
were shed. Pin ware, fancy teeth, stout caesar.
Wet syllables in the rue de Fleurus
Picasso painted sobs for the deceased,
Alice pickled plums while Gertrude admired
a beautiful beam
                  of light in the room

John Lyons

Revised version


Party time

Steel fireworks
How charming these illuminations
     Artificer’s artifice
Lends a little style to courage

Two air-burst shells
Pink explosion
Like two breasts set loose
Their nipples insolently pointing
                  What an epitaph

A poet in the forest
       His revolver half-cocked
Observes with indifference
Roses dying of hope

He thinks of Saadi’s roses
And suddenly his head slumps
When a rose reminds him
Of the soft curve of her hip

The air stinks with a terrible alcohol
Filtered by half-closed stars
The shells caress the soft
Night perfume where you rest
     Mortification of the roses

Guillaume Apollinaire
(translation by John Lyons)

Note: A later version of this poem appeared in the previous post

Ainsi s’en va la vie

Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Ainsi s’en va la vie

That’s how life goes
Dear Fernand at the Front
We are delighted
And our spirits are sharp.
We shoot into the dark night,
The Boche fire at the day
We live on History
We dream of Love
And when the shell meows
We always laugh louder
All those in my coop
Make fun of death.

Guillaume Apollinaire

(translation by John Lyons)


Ainsi s’en va la vie
Mon Fernand sur le front
On a l’âme ravie
Et l’esprit méme est prompt.
On tire à la nuit noire,
Le Boche tire au jour
Nous vivons de l’Histoire
Nous rêvons de l’Amour
Et quand l’obus miaule
On rit toujours plus fort
Tous ceux de ma piaule
Se moquent de la mort.