I LE BATEAU Le bassin du jardin, moins vaste que ses rêves, Où l'enfant voit glisser les blancs voiliers d'azur, Ouvre à ses appétits sans limites des grèves Où l'esprit libéré flotte jusqu'au grand mur. Il lance d'une main timide, car il n'ose Mêler sa course aux élans fous des autres nefs La barque de bois dur dardant l'étrave rose Vers le large où pleure le jet en remous brefs. Vers l'infini si grand qu'à peine il imagine Que le vaisseau hardi puisse atteindre le bord. Dans un livre il a vu des gravures: les cimes De blancs glaciers, des cases de bois, un grand fjord Aux eaux vertes et des pêcheurs aux lourdes vestes De cuir. Il se souvient aussi qu'il a pu voir Les débris de vaisseaux sombrés dont il ne reste Que le squelette vague avec des étais noirs. Il contemple souvent les cartes amarante, La France rose, la Chine jaune, le vert Chili, de clairs pays avec des noms qui chantent, Et tout autour, le bleu poème de la mer. On lui parle souvent de marins, de naufrages, Robinson sur son île et Jean Bart le forban Saute, la hache au poing, le sabre d'abordage Au côté, sombre oiseau planant dans les haubans, Et lorsqu'il joue avec sa soeur dans la cuisine, Un banc, c'est le navire et l'île, le buffet. Oh, que souffle le vent. Que la houle divine L'emporte au gré de ses caprices! C'en est fait. Plus tard, il roulera, dédaignant les tempêtes, Sur le mer toute bleue où luisent les poissons. Il verra les grands noirs, les Indiens dont la tête S'orne de plumes hautes, et les dards à poison. Un jour, quand il aura navigué bien des lieues, On criera "terre". Les Chinois aux grands chapeaux Leur porteront les porcelaines, les fleurs bleues, Et sur les mâts soudain voleront les oiseaux D'or et de feu. Déjà, il connaît son navire Comme ce noir et vert qui flotte. Sur son bord Un marin bleu de plomb, qu'il envie et admire, Contemple son reflet qui danse, coiffé d'or. Lorsque, marins barbus, ils passeront la ligne, L'équipage au complet dansera sur le pont; Capitaine, la nuit, il cherchera les signes Pour guider sa corvette à travers les limons, Et les cris des enfants, lorsqu'au port on arrive Ce sont des cris pareils qui montent aussitôt, Comme un parfum bordant d'un vert rideau la rive- Mais une voix lui dit: "Où donc est ton bateau" Il est loin. On le voit, immobile et stupide, Au milieu du bassin sans bornes, oscillant Lorsqu'une voile vire et lui jette un rapide Salut, remous railleur et frémissement blanc. Et l'enfant qui tient peu à son joujou volage Et pour qui contempler est un plaisir sans fin Sent pourtant un remords traverser son jeune âge Et se briser son coeur en sanglots enfantins. Michel Galiana (c) 1991

I THE BOAT The rimmed pond of the park, less vast than is his dream, Where the boy sees blue-hulled, white-sailed boats glide along, Opens to his boundless desires shores that seem To let his mind float free right up to the wall-front. His timid hand launches -and he dreads to venture Into the wild dashes of the other vessels- His small craft of hard wood that's pointing its pink stem Towards the open sea where the jet spurts its swirls, Towards a boundless space and he can't imagine That the gallant vessel could ever come to berth. In a book he saw once pictures of breathtaking Peaks, white glaciers, wooden huts and a firth With green waters and men in thick leather jackets. He also remembers that he has seen, one day, Remains of wrecked ships of which nothing was left But some vague skeletons propped up against black stays. He often considers some amaranthine map Showing France in pink hue, China in white, Chile In green, and bright countries that would his dreams entrap, And all around, the blue poetry of the vast sea. He was often told of sailor men and shipwrecks, Robinson on his isle and Jean Bart the corsair Who bounces, with the axe in his fist, his cutlass By his side, from the shrouds, like some bird in the air. And when with his sister he plays in the kitchen, A bench becomes a ship and the chest an island. Let the wind blow in gusts. Let him now be taken By the capricious swell which he will not withstand! Later on he shall roll, disregarding the gales, On the deep, blue ocean, full of glittering fish. He will see Africans and red Indians who wear Feathered headdresses and poison darts in a sheath. Some day, when he will have travelled for miles and miles, The watch will cry "Land ho!". The Chinese with wide caps Will bring on board dishes of porcelain, blue flowers, And birds of gold and fire will flutter round the masts. And he knows already his proud ship's appearance: Like that black and green one floating there with, aboard, That blue lead sailor whom he admires and his glance, Rests on his reflection amidst sparkles of gold. When, long-bearded sailors, they'll be crossing the line, All the men of the crew will dance upon the deck; As their captain he will search the night for the signs That will lead all along through the silts the corvette, And the cries of children when they reach the harbour Will be sensed as soon as they come within earshot, Like a scent that will seam with a green hem the shore... But suddenly a voice asks him "Where is your boat?" Far she is. Motionless and stupid, look at her, In the very middle of the boundless pond. When a sail nearby tacks and beckons her over The white, shuddering wash gives her a mocking jolt. Though the boy little cares about his fickle toy, He feels a remorseful urge rise in his young age, And though contemplating is to him endless joy He feels his heart burst into tears of childish rage.

Transl. Christian Souchon 01.01.2004 (c) (r) All rights reserved

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