Translation of Jean-Baptiste Cabaud’s ‘The Shepherdesses Painted in Blue’

2 August 2016

Jean-Baptiste Cabaud is a poet and writer who was born in 1970 in Savoy. He has lived in Lyons since 1993, working as a graphic designer for twelve years. From 2005 he has devoted his time to poetry, written, spoken, and illustrated. His first collection, Les Mécaniques, appeared in 2008 and his second, Fleurs, was published in 2014. He reads his work regularly in France and at international festivals and venues, conducts writing workshops for children and adults, and has been involved in many cross-discipline collaborations with musicians, dancers, graphic artists, photographers and cinematographers.

Darkness and thought invade the sky
And the cloud fields steal the gold of statues

The wind turns tempest and will not calm 
And it all quickens and it’s all cinema

A sand-covered bank a sweet fatigue
And to sleep an instant on closing your eyes

Here there is no nostalgia 
Half-blind windows look onto blank walls

Shepherdesses painted in blue will find their lovers
In the midst of the flock, at the foot of the swing

Too long a trip in an automobile
The radio broken my heart the replacement

There where sea charts indicate mountains
Carefree ships play at mountaineering

Needs must leave again space is so wide
To travel on further and time is so long

Then to bend the poets from their comet course 
And search out silence like a winter cloak

Shepherdesses painted in blue will find their lovers
In the midst of the flock, at the foot of the swing

This water is everywhere over frail earth
Ravaging healing and never ending    

But life teaches nothing and man is a dunce
a window spirit a heater body 

Three pennyworth of hope fifteen euros of hell
A moon ultra full on a bottle dead empty

This morning I bartered my soul of a giant
For the heart of a beggar an uncertain love

Shepherdesses painted in blue will find their lovers
In the midst of the flock, at the foot of the swing

Luminaries scintillate shifting invisible
As hooked on us as we on them

Then heroes march past in a glorious procession
But the sound of the trumpets is drowned in the void

And the swimming of sperm whales harmonious lovely
Hides mysteries from us which seem far too mundane

A fairy could certainly know of these questions
But fairies are earthly and have no replies

Shepherdesses painted in  blue will find their lovers
In the midst of the flock, at the foot of the swing

Rumbling assailing the great waves return
Searching out houses commanding the seasons

And the chessboard is set out at check and stalemate
But the two adversaries have not shaken hands

Soon I shall loiter behind on a bench
To wait for a meeting in the eerie light

A musing old man already resigned
A few grams of the past and a faraway glance

Shepherdesses painted in blue will find their lovers
In the midst of the flock, at the foot of the swing

The palm trees are simply stuck onto the sunset
the photo’s made child’s play of  imagination

We have cleaned out the breeches of our rifles
Kissed our wives goodbye and then left

Sailed over the ocean listened to sirens
And we have confused them with manatees

The mist is still lingering on today
Iridescing the light of strange aureolas 

Shepherdesses painted in blue will find their lovers
In the midst of the flock, at the foot of the swing

To love silence with all its charming vanity
Like a countryside crossed without choosing to stop

But to build ourselves strongholds of books and stones   
What damnable recklessness!  

The rain falls straight down onto straight blocks of flats
Man too is quite upright so much verticality

Chests swelling out are hazardous signs
Sigh-sacs of happiness and of ennui
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