La Montagne qui accouche (1982)



Translated from the French by Robert Fitzgerald


Une montagne en mal denfant

Jettait une clameur si haute

Que chacun, au bruit accourant

Crut quelle accoucherait, sans faute,

Dune cité plus grosse que Paris:

Elle accoucha dune souris.


Quand je songe à cette fable

Dont le récit est menteur

Et le sense est véritable,

Je me figure un auteur

Qui dit: Je chanterai la guerre

Que firent les Titans au maître du tonnerre.

Cest promettre beaucoup; mais quen sort-il souvent?

Du vent.


A mountain mountainous in parturition

Broke all the windows of a valley neighbor

Who tumbled on the run to view her labor,

Thinking a mountain in such huge condition

Might bring forth Hell itself: a town: at least a house.

The mountain was delivered of a mouse.


This story, if Im sober when I read it,

Strikes me as somewhat tall, if not gigantic:

Yet even for the most approved Romantic

Its literary sense is clear: concede it.

Think of the poet who begins his piece,

I sing the lords of night and the days release,

From which impressive pangs what issue do we find?

A little wind.


Found lately among papers of 1931, when I was a Sophomore and taking Professor Irving Babbitts course in the History of French Criticism. R. F.