Epic Debris: Haiti

Eerie feeling last night: had an email in the late afternoon from Claude Pierre, the Haitian poet, & just as I started to read & respond, the radio brought news of the earthquake. Communications seem to be down & I haven’t heard back.  I hope Claude Pierre, and my New York friend Thomas Spears who was visiting with Claude Pierre are okay. I wish everybody were okay, but… Good pieces on Haiti by Joel Dreyfuss, among them one called “Saving Haiti: Seeking hope for my native land,” can be found here, on The Root site. Here is the original & my quick translation of the “epilogue” to Claude Pierre’s poem “Epic Debris… for my Island in Danger;” you can read the whole poem and hear Claude Pierre read it here.


Rêver la vie,
une longue promenade,
un bivouac de récréation ;
déchirer les voiles, traverser la terre
comme une écluse
décorée aux couleurs du temps,
jouir des lactescences de lune, des chatoiements
d’arc en ciel,
paver d’ombrages, les bras de mer
d’un continent à l’autre,
tourner à loisir, les manettes du vent,
de sorte que les pôles mélangent
leurs souffles
et qu’on parcoure d’un pont à l’autre,
d’une île à l’autre, dans le frémissement des frontières,
toujours le même climat d’apaisement ;
circuler sans papier, sans interrogatoire,
sans pagne ni manteau,
nus, en toute liberté.

La mappemonde enfin,
prenant le temps d’étoffer ses arbres, pourlécher
ses oasis, les frontières s’aboliront d’elles-mêmes
dans la déroute des duels,
la révocation des édits
sans tortures ni famine.



To dream life,
a long leisurely walk,
a recreational bivouac;
to tear the veils, to traverse earth
like a tide gate
festooned with the colors of time,
to take pleasure in the moon’s lactescences, the rainbows’
sparkle and shimmer,
to pave with shade, the arms of the sea
from one continent to the other,
at one’s pleasure to turn the wind’s joysticks,
so that the poles may mingle
their breaths
so that one may travel from bridge to bridge,
from island to island, in the quivering of the borders,
always in the same clime of appeasement;
& circulate without papers, without cross-examinations,
with neither loincloth nor coat,
naked, in complete freedom.

The mappa mundi, finally,
taking the time to flesh out its trees, to lick clean
its oases, the borders will abolish themseves
in the duels’ rout,
the revocation of edicts
without torture, without famine.


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1 Response

  1. Annelisa A. says:

    Thank you very much for this important information on the Haitian poet Claude Pierre, and for publishing here his poem with English translation and links on his important poetical work.

    I met Claude Pierre in 2008 in Caracas, for the V Mundial Poetry Festival in Venezuela, and I had the great opportunity, otherwise listening his readings, to speak with such a special person and poet.

    I wish, with the author of the informations above, Pierre Claude is okay too, in this catastrophic moment in Haiti, by the tragic earthquake. I’d really thank a lot anybody who’ll have the possibility to give earlier information about him, anybody who received news from him these days and now could share them here.

    I send an embrace of solidarity to the Haitian people.

    Thanks a lot to NOMADICS.

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