Thursday, September 22, 2011

"The huge ruts of the ebb tide"

[pic: Abe Vigoda, Paris Review]

Rimbaud, translated by Ashbery, quoted by Huddleston in the Boston Review (French v. included as charming if one isn't Francophone):

Les courants de la lande,
Et les ornières immenses du reflux
Filent circulariement vers l’est
 What is fluid and ambiguous in the original (“les ornières” could be troughs, ruts, or billows) is made clear and distinct. In Ashbery’s rendition:
The currents of the heath,
And the huge ruts of the ebb tide
Swirl toward the east

I like these rigid seascapes; cf. the opening of Marianne Moore's "Steeple-Jack":

Dürer would have seen a reason for living
   in a town like this, with eight stranded whales
 to look at; with the sweet sea air coming into your house
 on a fine day, from water etched
   with waves as formal as the scales
 on a fish.

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