Zoe’s Woodpeckers en Francais

And the final posting for now (werk is calling me in an insistent herky jerky tone), is Roselyne’s translation of Zoe’s ‘Woodpeckers’ poem.


We should have stayed in the forest, watching woodpeckers.
A knock on hollow wood and air rattles in the tree’s chambers
like a voice trying to remember where to put its tongue.

Wingbeats echo on the inside of a skull. A stutter slides in parallax
between two birds translating early autumn into insect drone,
sky into raised voices, mushrooms into footsteps on mud.

We should have stayed in the forest, drowned out
by hiss between the branches, but even there you can’t be sure
that what you hear as morse might not be scattershot. And now

you’re speaking. Hover and balance. Hover and stop : hold it.
We could have stayed in the forest and I could have said –
but I didn’t. And you could have heard something different.



Nous aurions dû rester dans la forêt à observer les piverts
Un coup sur un tronc creux et l’air
en cliquetis de crécelle dans les alvéoles de l’arbre
comme une voix essayant de se souvenir d’où poser sa langue

L’écho de battements d’ailes à l’intérieur d’un crâne.
Un bégaiement en parallaxe
entre deux oiseaux
se traduisant automne précoce
en bourdonnement d’insectes
ciel en voix élevées
champignons en traces de pas dans la boue

Nous aurions dû rester dans la forêt
assourdis par les sifflements entre les branches
et même si vous ne pouvez être sûr
que ce que vous entendez comme du morse
ne serait pas des coups éparpillés.

Et maintenant
on parle

Nous aurions pu rester dans la forêt
et peut-être que j´aurais dit-
mais je ne l’ai pas fait
Et peut-être que tu aurais entendu quelque chose de différent.


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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