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"Assholes and good guys are one of a kind":
a poem after Paul Verlaine

Outside a bar in the City, London


Joie de Vivre

after Paul Verlaine


Now you suckers and saps might fall for nature
but that confidence trickster doesn’t fool me.
All those touched-up pastorals of half-arsed
emotion are the last thing I want to see.

Art’s a fucking joke, and we’re no better –
I laugh at verse, the churches’ fawning spires,
and worse, Canary Wharf’s effervescence,
that Midas touch turning the whole lot to shit.

Assholes and good guys are one of a kind.
I’ve left behind faith, daydreams, and as for
love – please. Let’s wave all that goodbye.

Like a useless toy boat that’s miles offshore –
too tired to go on, but who can’t pack it in –
I’ll wait on the shipwreck still gunning for me.



 
poem by Ben Wilkinson

first published in The Poetry Review, 102:03


This poem is part of an ongoing portraiture project, in which I have drawn, haphazardly, on the works of Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) to produce new poems of my own. It is also an attempt, in some small way, to honour and revivify interest in a great French poet whose work deserves to be held in higher regard. Poems from this project have appeared in Poetry Review ('Joie de Vivre'; 'October'), the Times Literary Supplement ('The Nightingale'; 'The Young Fools'), and Poem ('Once'; 'Marine').

 

Comments

Unknown said…
Excited to see another translation. Great to see that they're clearly all one too, they seem remarkably consistent in voice and flow really well.

Been working on translations of Adam Mickiewicz (1798 - 1855) and can't seem to get the juices going. Any practical tips?

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