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A Poet's Journal: April 29th, 2014

April 29th, 2014

Wisdom is often accepted to stand for little in the times it is most necessary, leaving preference to the wanderings of mind that emit our notions of blame and discontent.  A phrase from Aurelius, or any other sage of the past, has at times whispered a solution to the situation at hand, having only to apply its advice and thereon proceed in tranquility, but in the end I have found myself more willing to sulk in my misconceptions, as a point of taking misfortune in place of something outside of my nature.  Have not the ways and pretensions of mind, for so long embedded in our habits, condemned us already to an easily conceivable fate?  Where we stand with a person or group depends on the attitude we take: to stand apart and go unnoticed is an aggression towards the common and the undertaken, so that we ultimately concern ourselves with those people who put forth the same pretensions.   'Don't be carried away rashly by the appearance of things!'--For there i…

Newly Published Translation!




We have left the solstice behind and our days are now guided by declining light and the heat of summer.  Let us take a moment then to step toward the pleasures of another world and warm ourselves with poetry.  Please scroll down or click on the following link to read the new translation:

A Translation of André Chénier’s ‘Elegy XX’ by Douglas Thornton
Art, feeble interpretation
Of the soul! Art and only verse,
While the heart alone is poet!
Oppressive to the fruitful mind
Are those adornments, which despite
Themselves, hide within such words
As truth and surety commit
To thought, the loss of thought itself.
The heart speaks, genius writes: master
To obey, his hand turns divine,
But only if loved and happy,
Freed of torment, only if joy
Light-hearted and ardent youth spread
Across his face their beaming glow,
Will his verse, as clear as amber,
Or as flowers blush, find renewed
With their fairest looks, a sweetness
To the world, and in ripe old age
A guide. But mild and generous
If his heart must endure the cries
Of betrayal, or if beauty,
The absurd leave him to bewail
The sting of burning sands alone,
From their long black veils, where only
Sorrow exists, the quickest death
Is best, his elegies lament.
Always truthful, against himself
He turns, expressing his desire
With blame or kind words. But so quick,
So fleeting, are thought’s vagaries,
When close, in its passing, he writes
With a need for the past always
Present, and a soundness of mind,
Life and soul himself to remind.

Original French

L’art, des transports de l’âme est un faible interprète:
L’art ne fait que des vers; le coeur seul est poète.
Sous sa fécondité le génie opprimé
Ne peut garder l’ouvrage en sa tête formé.
Malgré lui, dans lui-même un vers sûr et fidèle
Se teint de sa pensée et s’échappe avec elle.
Son coeur dicte; il écrit. A ce maître divin
Il ne fait qu’obéir et que prêter sa main,
S’il est aimé, content, si rien ne le tourmente,
Si la folâtre joie et la jeunesse ardente
Étalent sur son teint l’éclat de leurs couleurs,
Ses vers, frais et vermeils, pétris d’ambre et de fleurs,
Brillants de la santé qui luit sur son visage,
Trouvent doux d’être au monde et que vieillir est sage.
Si, pauvre et généreux, son coeur vient de souffrir
Aux cris d’un indigent qu’il n’a pas pu secourir;
Si la beauté qu’il aime, inconstante et légère,
L’oublie en écoutant une amour étrangère;
De sables douloureux, si ses flancs sont brûlés,
Ses tristes vers en deuil, d’un long crêpe voilés,
Ne voyant que des maux sur la terre où nous sommes,
Jugent qu’un prompt trépas est le seul bien des hommes.
Toujours vrai, son discours souvent se contredit,
Comme il veut, il s’exprime: il blâme, il applaudit.
Vainement la pensée est rapide et volage:
Quand elle est prête à fuir, il arrête au passage.
Ainsi, dans ses écrits partout se traduisant,
Il fixe le passé pour lui toujours présent,
Et sait, de se connaître ayant la sage envie,
Refeuilleter sans cesse et son âme et sa vie.

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As winter is finally coming to a close, let us reflect upon the passing season and find a place where we are truly alive.  Please click on the link below or scroll down to read this newly published poem:
The Wintering-Ground by Douglas Thornton


The Wintering-Ground

Within what hut,
My woodland maid,
May I remain awhile?
Next what fire may my chills
Be warmed? Be there
A path that leads
Past stony piles and tells
Us not to walk alone?

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Seasons Of Mind ON SALE NOW!!

There is time for nothing else in this world but what we ourselves have set afoot, and finding the majority of our efforts occupied with a certain hope of reward, it is not distasteful to give ourselves pleasure with simplicity and joy in far-seeming whims.  Thus, it is the hope that, with the release of Seasons Of Mind, those of you may find in it a pleasure to your free time and a joy in reflection.

Please note that Seasons Of Mind may be bought through any distribution channel (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc...) or by going to your local bookstore and ordering a copy.  But also, by clicking on the image below you get 10% off.  The ebook is still in the process of being formatted and should come out in the next week or two.

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NEWLY PUBLISHED TRANSLATIONS!!

Newly published at the Society of Classical Poets:  Translations of André Chénier’s Poetry, by Douglas Thornton

The Flute

Douglas Thornton

Ever tender and touching the moment,
When pressing himself the flute to my mouth,
Laughing and pulling me close to his breast,
He named me his rival and soon to be
Master.  My stiff and timid lips were shown
To breathe an air pure and harmonious,
And my young fingers, by his practiced hands,
Being raised and lowered a hundred times,
Though ever so trying, were taught to close
The different holes of the sonorous wood.

La Flûte

André Chénier

Toujours ce souvenir m'attendrit et me touche,
Quand lui-même, appliquant la flûte sur ma bouche,
Riant et m'asseyant sur lui, près de son coeur,
M'appelant son rival et déjà son vainqueur,
Il façonnait ma lèvre inhabile et peu sûre
A souffler une haleine harmonieuse et pure;
Et ses savantes mains prenaient mes jeunes doigts,
Les levaient, les baissaient, recommençaient vingt fois,
Leur enseignant ains…