Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Every Tree Seeks The Sky & Other Poems— Maurice Kamto

Jun 4, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY PATRICK WILLIAMSON

french poems

Image Used For Representation

1

EVERY TREE SEEKS THE SKY

Who else knows the wind so well
To bear witness to its birth
I don’t know where its wings are hiding

The trees look – and keep silent – at
Their leaves that flirt
At the breath of spans and southerly winds

The roots test the soil
The shoot floats away
As light as release

At the foot of a seqouia
All eyes covet the top
The sky will be hope
As long as trees woo the light

I don’t know much about the skies
Subjugating them to the weather’s moods

Every marvel makes my disarray worse

For man it all begins here
Who knows if everything ends here?


2

Our straying stakes out
the paths of centuries
and the lights of dawn
not illumined the sources

an intensity of tone
indwells the vanities
that always slope off
when it’s time to charge

the gates of destiny
open to the bold

here is the offering of our sweat
of our consecrated blood
of our red blood of rebirth

let your horses fly away
to the wild shores
where heaven and earth commune


3

On the empty chair
There’s nothing left but your cry

The bruising of the soul

Your fallen flesh
Delights the powers of death

And their sardonic laughter
Lacerates the atmosphere

Torture, humour of tyranny


4
COMPANION OF THE GODS

The soul crumples in the snow of the Tropics
Mountain high trestle of mystery high
I attest here: the mountain is the companion of the gods

I hail the cloud-boots a forager throws away
I hail the silver sailboats heading out to sea
I’d know how to make the trip as a stowaway

What’s a swim in the Nereids’ bath worth

Crystal-shattered light on the needle tip
Such a visit from the Paraclete
An abyss of vertigo at the zenith of dreams
Heavens that hide beneath the veils of clouds
Backbone rightened by the rigour of the slope,
One only climbs the mountain devoutly


Also, read Silence by Mikica Pindzo translated from the Italian by Brenda Porster, and published in The Antonym:

Silence— Mikica Pindzo


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Maurice Kamto

Maurice Kamto

Maurice Kamto is a renowned Cameroonian jurist, politician and leading intellectual. He is the author of three books of poetry: Territoires insoumis (Panafrika/Silex/Nouvelles du Sud, 2017), Accotements (Panafrika/Silex/Nouvelles du Sud, 2019), and Sous la cendre les étoiles (Le Manteau & la Lyre/Obsidiane, 2021).

Patrick Williamson

Patrick Williamson

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Most recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014), Nel Santuario (SE, 2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Max Alhau (France), Tahar Bekri (Tunisia), Gilles Cyr (Quebec), as well as Italian poets Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Recent translations in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, and poems in The Black Bough, The Fortnightly Review notably. Longstanding collaborator with artists’ book publisher Transignum, member of the editorial committee of La Traductière, and founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

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