It’s Time

Here’s a translation of Roselyne Sibille’s ‘Il Est Temps.’

I didn’t actually mean to translate this — I was working on a little sequence of hers I thought would go well into Scots, but Roselyne asked me to read her work at the performances, and, although I really like Michael Fineberg’s translations of the other pieces she’d selected (‘Avant le Nuit ne s’en Vienne’ and ‘Entre l’Aube et l’Aurore’), I kept tripping over something in this piece that didn’t suit my voice.

It’s a cast-iron sign for me if I can’t read something aloud that I need to work on it, and this instinct kicked in, hence the following:

It is Time

the leaves know
it is time

they loosen themselves
without urgency
it is time
they let go

smiles and waltzes
in the weightless
abandon of leaves

they land
tremble a little once more
and are at peace

Here’s the original:

Il est Temps

Les feuilles le savent
Il est temps

Elles se décrochent
sans brusquerie
Il est temps
Elles lâchent

La lumière
valse et sourit
dans l’abandon léger des feuilles

Elles se posent
tremblent encore un peu


About Bill Herbert

Poet and pseudo-scholar W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, educated there and at Oxford, where he completed his DPhil thesis on Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and now lives and works in Newcastle. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and his books are published by, among others, northern publisher Bloodaxe Books. He is also the Dundee Makar, or city laureate.
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1 Response to It’s Time

  1. Bill Herbert says:

    Sorry about the indents, Roselyne: I had a great deal of ‘fun’ typing in HTML that wouldn’t do what I wanted. I’ll try again once I understand how WordPress thinks these should be done.

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