Wednesday, October 17, 2007
When I met John Bloomberg-Rissman in London early last year, he gave me the Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan, for which I've ever since been very grateful. I'd heard about Berrigan's translation of Rimbaud's 'Le Bateau Ivre' and thought I'd love to see it, and now, a poet/musician from Southern California has sent me a copy. It's a pirated copy. The poet-musician (and publisher) in question, who shall remain nameless, thought such a fine work ought to be in print, so he reproduced it in a limited edition from the original 1974 'Adventures in Poetry' chapbook. This one's complete with original cover design by Joe Brainard. The translation itself is wonderful - I recognised some of the lines from Berrigan's 'Sonnets' - and manages to sound like an American poem, rather than a French poem translated into English. I think most of all it works on a musical level, with some great lines:
...the star-steeped milky flowing mystic sea
I've dreamed green darkness and dazzling white,
Slow kisses on the eyelids of the sea.
It would be nice to see this and other of Berrigan's translations back in print. In the meantime I feel privileged to have a copy of this poem. I'm sure Berrigan and Brainard would approve of the spirit in which this little edition has been made.