Three translated poems of Émile Armand


1845-1945, Émile Armand, Poetry / Monday, January 29th, 2018

The following poems were originally published in So sang an “outsider” in 1925. They were translated by “J.” in 2004.


The dream

I dream of a country without suffering
where no one groans under the weight of solitude,
and hearts dared to hope,
with no layers of darkness blackening their desires.
A country without tears and sadness,
where happiness would replace torment,
I dream of a country without suffering,
where one could live with integrity.
I dream of a country where all the smells of misery
would be impossible, where neither hunger nor cold
was suffered by anyone, where free, full,
brilliant, life could finally live.
I dreamt of a country where fecund science
would stir in everyone a noble an beautiful desire,
the desire to know, without heavy and burdensome
limits confining the flight of the mind.
I dreamt of a country where without any difference,
without the vulgar goals of gold and honor,
but acting upon the stimulus of common accord
the most diverse projects would be carried out.
It is not in heaven, this country I dreamt of,
It is in our world, full of prejudices and errors,
and from which we would like to flee, towards a new end —
it is upon this bitter world that its foundation awaits.
It is amongst those who are tired of stalling and obstacles,
amongst those who have decided to act here and now
that the radiant sun of all our dreams will shine;
if our will is founded on one alone.

Sensibility

I’d prefer to tremble in the heat of battle
To hear the crash of cannon’s echoing fear
Standing amongst the dead and half dead,
Harvested by the shrapnel,
Than to see your eyes fill with tears.
I’d prefer to face a bandit assaulting me
In the night, in the middle of the woods, see
Shivering rays tear across the sky. But
I cannot resist for a moment
The sad pearls your eyes fashion.
And if others think it is pure laziness,
That I am a child broken by emotion,
I won’t respond, it doesn’t hurt me.
I have no hatred for those of frozen soul,
But I don’t understand those who can see
Their love cry, insensitive and calm.

Progress or dementia?

Because, feverish, he says “I can go faster,
And I want to elevate myself higher: As a somber prisoner
I travel the world, which in every way is narrow to me,
To languish in it. I still don’t accept
The torrents dotting the skies with their idyll slowly,
And the antique trill of the gallant nightingale,
They are no longer of my time. I would like a push
Towards the new, the unforeseen… or to find in myself
A still-hidden nook. Mountains, oceans, valleys,
Rivers, deserts, forests, lakes, have become
So common. I need to extend into the future,
To know the still virginal tremblings of the infinite blue.”
Because he says: “I want to raise myself up as high as the condor
To where the cities flee from my eyes
And where I can no longer see the yellow of the reaped fields
Nor the waving of the grasses in the capricious winds.”
Because he invades the domain of the winged ones
And penetrates the skies more every day,
You imagine glorious destinies for man,
And deify his audacious gestures.
You bow, you become delirious, you adore imprudence,
You deck with flowers the altar of the new cult;
Who knows whether it’s progress, regression, or dementia?
I prefer to sing to the fertile and fragrant earth.
I don’t believe that the rough voice of the motors
Will ever be worth the most timid song of the troubadour,
Nor the peaceful refrain of crystal clear fountains,
Nor the sound of the reaper harvesting the grains.