Wednesday, October 26, 2016


A Miracle

Jacques Prévert (1900-1977), "Vous Allez Voir Ce Que Vous Allez Voir," Paroles (Paris: NRF, 1979), p. 178:
Une fille nue nage dans la mer
Un homme barbu marche sur l'eau
Où est la merveille des merveilles
Le miracle annoncé plus haut?
This isn't included in Jacques Prévert, Paroles: Selected Poems. Translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1990 = Pocket Poets Series No. 9). Cf. Gardiner M. Weir, "Which," A Life of Memories: A Collection of Poetry (Frederick: American Star Books, 2014), page number unknown:

There needs to be an accent on Prevert, and the French title should close with a quotation mark, as it opens with one. This is a clever adaptation, whose first couplet reminds me more of Botticelli than Prévert though.

Here is a somewhat more literal version:
A naked girl swims in the sea,
A bearded man walks on the water.
Which is the wonder of wonders,
The miracle proclaimed on high?
The second line of course refers to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 6:45-53, Matthew 14:22-43, John 6:15-21).

Thanks to friends who went beyond the call of duty in answering questions, offering suggestions, and otherwise providing generous help. Some of them still don't agree with my translation.

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