Tuesday Poem - The Fable of the World, translated by Neil Curry


It is so good to have chosen
To take up residence
Among the living;
In a beating heart,
To have given houseroom to Time;
And to have seen my hands
Take hold of the world
As one would an apple
In a little garden;
To have loved the earth,
The moon and the sun
Like the very dearest
And oldest of one's friends;
And to have committed
The world to memory
Like a bright horseman
Astride his sable steed;
To have given a face
To the words: woman, children,
To have served as a shore
To wandering continents
And to have come across the soul
With the gentlest of pulls
Upon one's oars so as not
To frighten it away
With an approach too brusque.
It is so good to have known
The shade under a tree,
To have felt age creeping
Across one's naked body,
Accompanying the pain
Of the black blood in our veins,
And gilding its silence
With the star called Patience,
And to have all these words
Buzzing around inside one's head
And to choose the least beautiful
So as to give them a little treat;
To have felt life
Ill-considered and ill-loved,
And to have sealed it up
Inside this thing called poetry.

© Jules Supervielle
Trans from the French by Neil Curry
from The Fable of the World
Published by Shoestring Press, 2013
Reproduced with permission.

Jules Supervielle was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1884 of French parents.  His mother and father died from cholera when he was only a baby and he was brought up by an uncle and aunt.  He was later sent to France to be educated, but throughout his life divided his time between France and Uruguay and married a Spanish girl. Supervielle was also a friend of Rainer Maria Rilke and very highly regarded as a European poet.  He died in 1960.

This collection of Supervielle's poems is translated by English poet Neil Curry (a poet admired by Ted Hughes) and it's beautifully done.  It also includes one of Supervielle's most famous 'fantastical' stories - L'enfant de la haute mer' - The Child of the High Seas - a strange and moving tale.   The Fable of the World is a collection of poems and prose pieces that is a creation myth, in Neil Curry's words 'a compelling poetical statement about the poetic process'.  Highly recommended.  

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