From dune to Dune

Woke up this morning from a dream of the desert (maybe late winter desire to escape upstate New York, maybe compensation for having had to cancel next month’s projected trip to Djanet, the south-eastern desert oasis in Algeria where friend Habib Tengour is traveling to this weekend, ¿quien sabe?). And dawn-dreaming of vast stretches of sand, of variously shaped sand dunes, though not able to remember the rich Arab vocabulary for their different shapes, I got stuck on the word “dune” — made a verb of it, “to dune,” then a noun applicable beyond sand, then all of a sudden the word arose as a name, Mr. Dune, and yes, there is a Mr. Dune I knew, a distinguished Luxembourg poet whom I met only once, some thirty years ago. But also remembered that I translated a poem of his for the 2002 UNESCO World Poetry Day. Here it is:

Born in 1914, Edmond Dune (actual name, Edmond Hermann — & now I wonder why he chose “Dune”) is one of the great figures of post-WWII francophone literature in Luxembourg. His prodigious output comprises not only poetry but also much prose (fiction as well as essays) and a range of plays. He also translated, especially from German, poets such as Friedrich Hebbel and Georg Trakl, as well as an anthology of Italian poetry. In 1974, the Grand Duchy’s Institute of Arts and Letters published, under the title Des rives de l’aube aux rivages du soir, a selection of poems written between 1934 and 1972. In 1989 Editions PHI issued his collected short stories under the title Patchwork. Edmond Dune died in 1988.

Self-portrait with Absinthe Flower

This tree pierced
By sun’s swords
This wind rose
Carved from dew’s diamonds
This moon moves over paths
Known only to smugglers
This silence hesitating
Between prayer and beast scream
This nail a woman drives
Into her last love
This joy in mourning
And this meditative madness
This child waiting for
The return of the prodigal father
And this bird that reinvents
Each morning the pleasure of being
That’s me

An absinthe flower between my lips

[Translated from the French by Pierre Joris]

Autoportrait à la fleur d’absinthe

Cet arbre transpercé
Par les épées du soleil
Cette rosé des vents
Taillée dans les diamants de la rosée
Cette lune qui va par des chemins
Connus des seuls contrebandiers
Ce silence hésitant
Entre prière et cri de bête
Ce clou qu’une femme enfonce
Dans son dernier amour
Cette joie dans le deuil
Et cette folie méditative
Cet enfant qui attend
Le retour du père prodigue
Et cet oiseau qui réinvente
Chaque matin le plaisir d’être
C’est moi
Une fleur d’absinthe aux lèvres

In : Poème pour cœur mal tempéré. 1967

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3 Responses

  1. Dr Doom says:

    And I now crown you Dr. Dune.

  2. Annandale Dream Gazette says:

    Hi Pierre,

    May I include your dream, up to “thirty years ago” in the Annandale Dream Gazette?

  3. patrick says:

    nice, i was looking all over the place to find something written about my grandpa in engl and finallt i found something! he died jan/23/1988, 4 days after i was born… so this had been the last good news before he died! my mother was his first daughter and married a german man, so this is were i popped out then. the other 3 daughters life all toghether in Paris. last year there hab been a big ‘fest’ to remember him in LX

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