What Is Dying? (French translation)


What Is Dying?

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side
spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to meet
and mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says:
“There! She’s gone!” Gone where? Gone from my sight?
That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side, and just as able
to bear her load of living freight to the place of her
destination. Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.
And just at that moment when someone at my side says:
“There! She’s gone!” There are other eyes that are
watching for her coming; and other voices ready
to take up the glad shout: “There she comes!”
And that is “dying.”
Submitted by Sarasvati on Tue, 20/11/2018 - 08:22
Last edited by sandring on Tue, 20/11/2018 - 18:33
Submitter's comments:

This poem first appeared in the Northwestern Christian Advocate, July 13, 1904, though at that time it wasn't looked on as a poem.

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French translation

Qu'est-ce que mourir ?

Versions: #1#2
Je me tiens sur le rivage. Près de moi, un navire
largue ses voiles blanches dans la brise du matin
et s'en va vers le bleu de l'océan. C'est une vision de force
et de beauté. Immobile, je le suis du regard jusqu'à ce qu'il
ne soit plus qu'un nuage blanc imperceptible suspendu là
où le ciel et la mer se rejoignent et se mélangent.
Puis quelqu'un près de moi dit : « Le voilà parti ! Mais vers où ? »
Hors de ma vue, voilà tout. Ses mâts et sa coque1 sont tout aussi imposants qu'à son départ, et tout aussi capables de mener
sa cargaison d'êtres vivants à bon port.
Sa taille n'a diminué qu'en moi.
Et à l'instant même où une voix s'écrie près de moi
« Le voilà parti ! » d'autres yeux scrutent l'horizon
et d'autres voix s'apprêtent à crier joyeusement :
« Le voilà qui arrive ! »
Voilà ce qu'est mourir.
  • 1. je suppose que "bull" est un raccourci pour "bullwark" (les couples principaux de la coque), et "spar" ce serait les vergues mais je trouve que c'est un peu trop technique en français
Submitted by ingirumimusnocte on Tue, 20/11/2018 - 10:31
More translations of "What Is Dying?"
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Sarasvati    Tue, 20/11/2018 - 10:44

Merci beaucoup, je vais pouvoir corriger ma version en espagnol.
Ta traduction est un délice de poésie

Sarasvati    Tue, 20/11/2018 - 10:45

C'est quoi les couples de sa coque sont tout aussi imposants?

ingirumimusnocte    Tue, 20/11/2018 - 12:40

C'est la structure interne du bateau, mais bon c'est un peu lourd en français, je vais changer ça.

sandring    Tue, 20/11/2018 - 17:31

Well, well, well.... Emilia, thank you for a nice link.
What can I say? Some people are nuts. William Blake of all things! He wrote "What am I? A happy fly, if I live or if I die" (from the memory)
On the face of it, it couldn't have been written earlier than the second half of the 20th century. I guess, American. Allen Ginsberg's influence can't be mistaken. I'll try to find that out. Regular smile

sandring    Tue, 20/11/2018 - 17:49

The question is whether it's a poem at all. Poems like this started with Allen Ginsberg but to me, it looks like a rhythmic narration.
presented later as a poem in vers libre. They say it's Charles Brent, read his speeches - no way. A puzzle, indeed.

sandring    Tue, 20/11/2018 - 18:34

The source lyrics have been updated. Please review your translation.