BACCHANTE by Lucien Jacques

BACCHANTE by Lucien Jacques                                                 (trans.Lesley Lawn)

Bacchante, red mistress of the vine

You stripped off the new fruit

ahead of autumn,

Your green juice is all of human blood.

Your face smeared with monstrous dregs,

your dreadful staff in hand,

entwined with tangled crops

of young and tender flesh,

of bodies live and full of promise, cropped yet scarcely ripe,

and you, engorged with red, but never sated, never weary,

beat your tympanums

to the booming thud of canon.

If only you could soon move on,

blind drunk on horror, inebriate forever more

on new blood brimful in your vats –

then, at last, life might return,

sweet, crowned with meadow flowers,

to the orchard

and the slopes of ravaged vines.


A l’auteur du Don de ma mère

 Bacchante, rouge vigneronne

Qui arrachas le fruit nouveau

Avant l’automne,

Ton vert jus est de sang humain.

Ta face barbouillée de monstrueuse lie.

Et le thyrse affreux de ta main

Tressé de grappes emmêlées –

Grappes de chairs tendres et jeunes,

Grappes de corps, grappes vivantes,

Prometteuses, mûres à peine,

Que tu trépignes, gouge rouge

Jamais gorgée, jamais lassée,

Au branle balourd des canons

Tes tympanons.

Ah ! Puisses-tu rouler bientôt

D’horreur pâmée

Et saoule pour l’éternité

Du sang nouveau de tes cuveaux.

Et qu’enfin revienne la vie

La douce couronnée des fleurs de la prairie

Dans la vigne aux ceps saccagés

Et le verger.

THE HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF THE DIVINE: Anne Cuneo’s ‘Tregian’s Ground’, translated by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Roland Glasser


THE HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF THE DIVINE: Anne Cuneo’s ‘Tregian’s Ground’, translated by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Roland Glasser.

The genius of the translators’ work becomes self–evident.’

Roland Glasser and Louise Rogers Lalaurie’s translation of the quasi–biographical account of the extraordinary Tregian is well worth the wait.’

I enjoyed this thoughtful and comprehensive review of Anne Cuneo’s book and I enjoyed the book itself even more.  I hardly have anything to add to such a fulsome review. Having read Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and its sequel,  this was a familiar landscape with the extra dimension of the Catholic /Protestant tension and of course the music. Strangely, as I was reading it, BBC Radio 3 was featuring music by Monteverdi and other pieces from the period, which  enhanced  the reading of Tregian’s Ground. There is a consistent music within in the prose which proves that the translation is extraordinarily accomplished and as a collaboration between two very able translators, it is impossible to ‘see the join’!’

WRITING THE MOUND (with apologies to Clive Scott)*

Translation does not preserve does not perform
 it is not static nor is it a sort of approximation 
a pale imitation of style or form – even meaning 

fixed or immovable in time or space not a sacred 
image held in aspic a single aesthetic set in stone

                                                                                    layers of A
                                                                               an accumulation
                                                                            of a metamorphosis 
                                                                       modulation perpetuation
                                                                     projects the text in variation
                                                              TRANSLATION IS dynamic  it evolves

*inspired by a lecture he gave at BCLT Summer School this year on “The aesthetics of literary translation”


BLOGGING ABOUT WHAT I READ AND TRANSLATE, WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO TRANSLATE, AND WHAT I THINK SHOULD BE TRANSLATED! In today’s post, the current volume of Comparative Critical Studies featuring my translated extract of Chahdortt Djavann’s La muette,  which won the BCLA John Dryden translation prize 2014. The whole extract can be read on the BCLA website

See also my piece  “Silent Voices'” in the Ampersand blog on translating’ La muette’ :