Winter 2005-6

TRANSLATIONS - Francis Jammes

tr George Wallace

Surely one day it will be necessary to come to You, O my God,
no doubt one day when the countryside
is in full flowering festival.
Well, if I have to go I wish,
as I have down here below, to choose
my way to go,
the way it pleases me,
to Paradise, where the stars
shine in full daylight.
I'll take my stick
and out on the main road I'll go,
and I will say to the asses, my friends:
I am Francis Jammes and I'm headed for Paradise,
because there's no such thing as Hell
in God's Good Country!
Here's what I'll say to them: Come,
soft friends of the blue sky, poor
dear animals which, with a quick movement
of the ear, can drive away flies, the blows of men,
and bees...

That way I'll appear to You
among these animals that I love so much,
because they lower their heads gently,
they stop by joining their little feet
together in a gentle way
that makes a person feel pity.
I'll show up followed by thousands of ears,
followed by those who have carried baskets
on their sides, who trailed behind motorcars
and travelling acrobats and cars full of
plumed generals and tinplates,
I'll show up followed by those whose
backs were loaded with sardines and oilcans,
the she-asses weighed down by goatskins, with their mincing steps,
followed by those who have to be dressed in bandages
because of their blue and oozing wounds
and the clouds of flies gathered around them.

Dear God, who made the asses, I come You.
Make, in peace, angels out of all of us.
Make of us, like worms in a wiggling stream
or gnawing through trembling cherries,
smooth as flesh which makes young girls laugh,
transformed through the power
of the leaning, burdened hearts of asses.
I want to be remade, in Your divine water, like the asses.
I want to reflect their humble and soft poverty
in the limpidity of your eternal love.




Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at

send comments to

first electronic copyright 2004 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to