Liberté

img_1030Published in 1942, Paul Eluard’s poem Liberté is a love poem for all the poet holds dear. During the Nazi occupation of France, the British Royal Air Force distributed Eluard’s poem by parachute across French soil. In response to recent events, here is my translation, written with our present challenge in mind.

Liberty

On my childhood notebooks
On my school desk on the tree
On the sand on the snow
I write your name

On the pages that I read
On the pages left blank
Rock paper ashes blood
I write your name

On gold leaf of icon
On arms of superheroes
On the crown of kings
I write your name

On the jungle and the desert
On the wild nest on the flowering lupine
On childhood memories
I write your name

On nightfall’s mysteries
On warm bread from the oven
On the courting of lovers
I write your name

On each of my rags—robin’s egg blue—
On the pond’s disheveled reflections
On the lake’s still moon
I write your name

On the outfields of the horizon
On the wings of bird
On the shuttered windmill
I write your name

On each streak of dawn
On the sea on boats
On withering mountain
I write your name

On honeycomb of cloud
On heavy sweat of storm
On rain’s dreary downpour
I write your name

On the glittering world
On the prism of sparkling colors
On all natural phenomena
I write your name

On trails traced with deer tracks
On heavy trafficked roads
On the overflowing plazas
I write your name

On the lamp that is lit
On the lamp that goes out
On little houses lined in a row
I write your name

On the fruit cut in two
On mirror reflection
On bedsheets empty as seashell
I write your name

On my endearing dog
On his attentive ears
On his implausible paws
I write your name

On my door’s swinging out
On my mementos
On the crackling of the hearth fire
I write your name

On the breath of flesh
On the foreheads of friends
On the hand outstretched
I write your name

On windows’ reflections
On waiting lips
On the outer reaches of silence
I write your name

On the hallowed ground that is desecrated
On the embers of our dying fire
On the walls of indifference
I write your name

On the absence of will
On my solitude laid bare
On the march towards death
I write your name

On rallying health
On love that takes risks
On hope that outpaces despair
I write your name

And by the power of a single word
My life begins anew
I am born to know you
And to name you

Liberty.

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