2 poems with readers (lecteurs, lectores, leitores)

Going my way - watercolor by William Eaton, 2022Short poems, somewhat odd order. First poem, Boulevard Victor Hugo (Nice) en Français, English, Español e Português. Second poem, It’s the thought that counts in English, Español, Português et Français. (Muito obrigado a Adelino Pereira por rever e corrigir o português do Boulevard Victor Hugo.)

Although the “Boulevard” poem is not at all Japanese or Japanese-y, its concision and mood was certainly influenced by my having found at a bookstore in Nice Poèmes de tous les jours, an excellent anthology of Japanese poems which includes comments by the compiler, the late Japanese poet and poetry champion Ôoka Makoto. The book, published by Piquier, is in French.

In addition – totally unrelated – before I got down to work on this post, at the Café Saint-Médard I met a waitress named Nathalie who led me to recall Gilbert Bécaud’s famous song of the same name. Once so much fun, it now seems a sad song, from back in the days of more promising международные отношения (international relations). Before emailing the song link to an American friend, I asked DeepL to translate the lyrics into English, and I so liked the translation (in English), I have reprinted it as an addendum, and without the least change, below.

Boulevard Victor Hugo (Nice) en Français, English, Español e Português

Boulevard Victor Hugo (Nice)

Une femme âgée et un homme d’âge moyen,
Son fils, j’imagine,
Sont assis ensemble sur un banc sous un lampadaire.

Un livre – un roman, je suppose – est ouvert sur ses genoux et
Tête baissée, il lit, et
Elle se penche dessus pour lire aussi.

Boulevard Victor Hugo (Nice)

An elderly woman and a middle-aged man,
Her son, I presume,
Are sitting together on a bench under a street lamp.

A book – a novel, I presume – is open on his lap, and
Head bent, he is reading, and
She is peering over his arm to read too.

Boulevard Victor Hugo (Nice)

Una mujer mayor y un hombre de mediana edad,
su hijo, supongo,
están sentados juntos en un banco bajo una farola.

Un libro – una novela, supongo – está abierto en el regazo de él, y
con la cabeza inclinada, él está leyendo, y
ella se asoma por encima para leer también.

Boulevard Victor Hugo (Nice)

​Uma mulher idosa e um homem de meia-idade,
​​O seu filho, presumo eu,
Estão sentados juntos num banco debaixo de um candeeiro de rua.

Um livro – um romance, suponho eu –
está aberto no seu colo
e, de cabeça inclinada, ela está a ler,

E ela está a espreitar
​Por cima do ​​​braço dele
​Para ler também.

It’s the thought that counts (in English, Español, Português et Français)

It’s the thought that counts

She was reading the first volume
Of The Second Sex
About which for three hours we talked,
Until 1 in the morning, when,
The last two buttons unbuttoned,
We did what has united us

El pensamiento es lo que cuenta

Estaba leyendo el primer volumen
de El Segundo Sexo,
sobre el cual, durante tres horas hablamos,
hasta las cuatro de la mañana,
cuando los tres últimos botones desabrochados,
hicimos lo que nosotros dos
hemos unido.

O que conta é o pensamento

Eu estava a ler o primeiro volume
de O Segundo Sexo,
sobre o qual, durante três horas, falámos,
até às quatro horas da manhã,
quando os últimos três botões se desfizeram,
fizemos o que nós dois
nos unimos.

C’est la pensée qui compte

Elle lisait le premier volume
Du Deuxième sexe
A propos duquel, pendant trois heures
Nous avons parlé, jusqu’à quatre heures du matin,
Quand, les trois derniers boutons défaits,
Nous nous sommes engagés à ce qui nous deux
A, ah, uni.

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


Nathalie par Gilbert Bécaud as translated by DeepL online

Note that the French original makes much comic use of the fact that the noun “guide” in French is masculine, while Nathalie herself is of course feminine.

The Red Square was empty
In front of me walked Nathalie
He had a nice name, my guide

The Red Square was white
The snow made a carpet
And I was following on this cold Sunday

She spoke in sober sentences
About the October revolution
I was already thinking
That after Lenin’s tomb
We would go to the Pushkin café
To drink a chocolate

The Red Square was empty
I took her arm, she smiled
He had blond hair, my guide
Nathalie, Nathalie

In her room at the university
A bunch of students
Waiting for her impatiently
We laughed, we talked a lot
They wanted to know everything
Nathalie was translating

Moscow, the plains of Ukraine
And the Champs-Élysées
We mixed everything
And we sang

And then they opened the door
Laughing in advance
Of champagne from France
And we danced

And when the room was empty
All the friends were gone
I was left alone with my guide

No more question of sober sentences
Nor of October revolution
We were no longer there
No more Lenin’s tomb
The chocolate from Pushkin’s
It’s, it was already far

That my life seems empty
But I know that one day in Paris
I will be his guide
Nathalie, Nathalie

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