Archive for September 14th, 2022

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Ballad of the Country Exile by Max Jacob

The farmers call me by name on the roads
as they might tell a skylark from a thrush
but they know the names of the animals better
than mine, for my name is Dolor.

If that which I love weighs upon my wound, it pains it;
if it weigh only upon summer, it is the field that suffers.

What will feed summer and my love if not that sorrow,
since my love and summer can no longer feed on joy?

The swan disappears in the slant of branches,
and the naked muses take me in their arms;
the winged horse contains my passion
and the wild flowers spread for me.

From: Jacob, Max, “Ballad of the Country Exile” in Poetry, Volume 76 Issue 2, May 1950, p. 85.

Date: 1939 (original in French); 1950 (translation in English)

By: Max Jacob (1876-1944)

Translated by Harvey Shapiro (1924-2013)