The three poems here are from a new manuscript, A Thousand Oars in the
Water – 45 Versions from Sappho to Claribel Alegría, and were rendered
from other translations cribs, and notes.
On the Topmost Branch
On the topmost branch an apple
the pickers forgot—
red and sweet.
Not forgotten, unreachable.
after Gustave Flaubert
Emma missed her daughter.
Barely the second week
of six allotted the Mother of God,
she ignored the almanac and trod
through the village growing weak
before the shops. Stones in the street
pressed through her shoes and bruised her feet.
Should she, she wondered, go on?
Sparks seemed to fly
from the spines of their gables,
against the blaze of the sky.
From out of a doorway Leon,
holding in his arm some papers,
paused beneath Lheureux’s gray awning.
Would he, she asked, care to walk? …. “If…,”
he said, then said no more. The meadow
lay beyond the street. Past it
was the Rollet house where her baby slept
beneath a cloth in a wicker basket.
They leaned to each other and stepped
beyond the gaze of Tuvache’s wife
who’d spent some hours at her window.
All of Yonville talked by morning.
after Paul Verlaine
Winds above the meadows rile
the dull-red brick
and gray-blue tiles
of some official’s summerhouse. Miles
of sun-bright fields and then fairy
stands of ash trees rise on
a thousand far horizons.
A vast Sahara
of lucernes gauze the prairie
and our quiet cars in even
file glide across the quiet sprawl.
Sleep gentle cow and bull,
sleep gentle calf in
the washed-out rainbow light of heaven.
Through this hush we wend along,
a salon of every coach. We,
in our leisure, sotto voce,
rehearse a world modeled on
the distant dreams of Fenelon.
About the translator:
Steve Kronen’s books are Homage to Mistress Oppenheimer (Eyewear),
Splendor (BOA), and Empirical Evidence (University of Georgia). He is a
librarian in Miami where he lives with his wife, the novelist Ivonne
Read more translations here.