Dunt, dunt, dunt, deslumbramiento (Beethoven’s Fifth?)

Le français followed by a version in English y una versión alternativa en español. All these texts, and especially the English and Spanish, were substantially revised in May 2023 (more than a year after the original posting).

When I was first working on these poemínimos (short poems), I happened on Susan McLean’s wonderful translations into English of short poems (“epigrams”) by the Spanish-Roman poet Martial. Two (hardly surrealistic) samples may be found below at Martial.

Dunt, dunt, dunt, songe

Ce matin, en me réveillant –
Triangle, two rectangles, for Picasso - William Eaton, 2021Des gribouillis près du lit :
« Que tu me le dises » y était parmi
« Je n’ai jamais besoin », et ça aussi :
« Ce que Beethoven, il a écrit
Parle d’un homme d’il y a longtemps
Qui a tiré droit sur son gros orteil gauche,
Désireux d’enlever une corde de son nez. »


This morning awaking what did I find?

This morning awaking what did I find?
Dream scribbles fallen just left of my bed —
“I don’t need you to tell me,”
Was one thing they said.

“Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is about a man
Whose big toe he shot off
With a rope up his nose.”
This morning awaking what did I find?


La vida más fácil con menos leer

Esta mañana al despertar
Garabatos de sueños cerca de cama –
« La Quinta Sinfonía de Señor Beethoven… »

« ¿Podría ser sobre un hombre apuesto
Que un dedo del pie se disparó
Con una cuerda sucia en la nariz? »

Muchas mañanas por supuesto
Buscas de nuevo el antifaz
La vida es más fácil con menos leer.


Martialis (Martial) Bust by Juan Cruz Melero (1910-1986)Many thanks to the American Library in Paris for introducing me to Susan McLean’s Selected Epigrams: Martial (The University of Wisconsin Press 2014). The original, Latin poems were published in Rome between AD 86 and 103. Martial was born sometime between 38 and 41 AD in Augusta Bilbilis (near what is now the city of Calatayud in the Sistema Ibérico mountain range, northern Spain).

Image at right is a bust of Martialis (Martial) by Juan Cruz Melero (1910-1986). A few samples here of Martial’s and MacLean’s work:

poem 1.30

Sabidius, I don’t like you. Why? No clue.

I just don’t like you. That will have to do.

poem 11.19

Why won’t I wed you, Galla? You’re well-read.

My cock makes frequent grammar slips in bed.

— Poem(s) and “cover” (homepage) drawing by William Eaton.

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