Emmanuel Moses


Translated by Marilyn Hacker

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(ISBN 978-0-932440-93-8)

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One of the most singular lyric voices to emerge in France in the last quarter century, Emmanuel Moses is well served by veteran American poet-translator Marilyn Hacker, whose translations from the poet’s three latest collections have a way of casting their own spell. Moses can be elegiac, disarmingly personal, celebratory, and, notably in his remarkable cycles of preludes and fugues, mysterious and elliptical—evoking a tremulous, lost kingdom in beautifully cadenced, organ-toned free verse lines. In Preludes and Fugues we witness the poet amidst the roses, and the ashes, of the "impassable threshold."
Gabriel Levin

Born in Casablanca in 1959, Emmanuel Moses is the author of twelve collections of poems—most recently Sombre comme le temps, which received the Prix Théophile Gautier of the Académie Française—as well as a writer of novels and short fiction. Fluent in four languages, Moses is a translator into French of contemporary Hebrew fiction and poetry, notably of Yehuda Amichai; he also translates from the German and from the English. His He and I, in Marilyn Hacker’s translation, was previously published by Oberlin College Press.

Marilyn Hacker is the author of thirteen books of poems, including A Stranger’s Mirror (Norton, 2015), an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices (Michigan, 2010), and thirteen collections of translations of French and Francophone poets including Emmanuel Moses, Marie Etienne, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Habib Tengour, and Rachida Madani. Her awards include the National Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Prize, two Lambda Literary Awards, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and the PEN/Voelcker Award. She lives in Paris.




My father says: I'd like to stop weighing on your shoulders
If you put me down on the ground we could walk side by side
I'm not blind or paralyzed
Only a little bit dead
For the moment
Perhaps we could take each other's hands
The way we did when you were little
Now I'm the one who's little
But I'll grow
I have all eternity for that.
I say to my father:
One day, you know, you'll be so light 
That I'll start to run
Along the road and across the fields
I'll leap so high they'll think I’m a stag
Clever indeed the one who can catch me
Till then I'll stoop
I'll bend
Under your weight that crushes me like the sky
And the nebulous weight of the stars



For my mother

You had nothing to say so you painted some splendid artichokes
You took them from the kitchen and placed them on a black chair
You didn’t think about it
You had no doubts
You went from the kitchen to the studio
Like a priest passing from the sacristy to the altar
The all had turned to nothing
And now this nothing became something once again
The artichokes told the extraordinary story of green
And the chair the humble tale of black
Their stories were like those told by old women
On the village square, near the fountain
At the close of day
Filaments of time, of life
That are no longer anything and once were everything
And become something again in the tender evening light
You had nothing to say, so you took your brushes and palette knife
You pressed the tubes of paint
And you painted metaphysical vegetables
On an existential chair
You told the extraordinary tale of everything turned to nothing
Re-transformed into something by a pair of artichokes


Translation copyright c 2016 by Marilyn Hacker. May not be reproduced without permission.

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