Quand – l’argent – le métier – leur dévouement à l’art –

Woman and man naked in color, drawing by William Eaton, 2017When – his money – her work – her devotion to art

{The English version, though chronologically the first and perhaps freer of a foreigner’s faults, here follows the French, stanza by stanza. La version française, quoique écrit après l’anglais et par un Américain, le procède, strophe par strophe.}


Quand – l’argent – le métier – leur dévouement à l’art –

Les vêtements enlevés, elle, grande, s’est étirée,

En dessous l’artiste essoufflé, les membres, le pubis,

Enduits des feuilles bleu-marines les désirs paumés


When – his money – her work – their devotion to art,

Her clothes removed, she stretched so tall, his wavering

Desire left the curves of her limbs and her sex to seek

In sea-blue paper shadows charcoal smearing


Et quand – quelques mois plus tard – leurs séances promettaient

Les caresses – et lui de la perspective gonflait,

Quel paysage frottaient ses pastels doux et ternes,

Tirant une sourire de son regard fixe et muet.


And when, months later, they both came to know how

They liked to kiss – his sex dazed, warming already,

While his soft and earthy crayons rubbed his pages,

Coaxing a smile from her gaze, still mute and steady.          


Après, ils rappelaient le travail abandonné.

Chair content, velouté ; cheveux rebelles, cuisses mouillées.

Et lui, reconnaissant, ornait des rayons, vifs et

Roses-bonbon, ses pilosités ensoleillées.


In bed they grumbling considered going back to work,

Drowsy memory at the tops of their thighs, the ropes

Of hair shadowing her face, while he gratefully

A pubic sun adorned with bright, candy-pink spokes.


« J’apprends à aimer ! » a-t-il cri avec de la moquerie –

L’hommage des doigts enchantés faisant rire la beauté.


“I am learning to love!” he teased himself gaily

As his fingers sang to beauty, smiling warmly.

Après "Le jeune dessinateur" (The Young Draftsman), Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, 1737Poem and drawings by William Eaton

§ À noter : Ce poème ne vient pas d’une expérience ou d’un fantasme, mais d’une question : comment un artiste, mâle dans ce cas-ci, dessinerait différemment un modèle (a) en consacrant tout son désir à ses feuilles (ou en essayant de retenir, avec l’aide de l’art, tout son désir) ; (b) en sachant que le modèle et lui allaient faire l’amour ; et (c) après l’avoir fait.

Note: This poem was not inspired by an experience or a fantasy, but rather a question: in what different ways might an artist, male in this case, draw a model (a) when his desire pours into his pages (or when he tries, with the help of art, to hold desire captive); (b) knowing that the model and he would soon be making love; and (c) after having made love to her.

Now available from Amazon: Art, Sex, Politics

Art, Sex, Politics cover from AmazonIn a new, provocative collection of essays, William Eaton, the author of Surviving the Twenty-First Century, shares the pleasures of questions, tastes, reading and more visual arts. “That we are animals, that is as sure as ever. How savagely we behave! And how affectionately rub up against one another. How, desperately, make love?”

Kind words about Surviving: “Entertaining, yet packs a quiet intellectual wallop. . . . so thought-provoking and poetic I didn’t want it to end . . . beautiful and wise and moving . . . engaged, non-doctrinaire, well-read, independent-minded. . . . William Eaton finds arresting themes in unusual places. . . . The writing is masterful and wonderfully absorbing.”

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