If I write by the light of my lamp
Disorderly and empty verses
Uncertainly with this small stub in my tired hand
If I write at night on the back of envelopes
Insignificant poems: poor merchandise
In which are found only wildflowers…
And a crumb of love,
All this I do for those I love.
Yet I do write, other poems
Not by the light of the lamp.
But by the rays of the Sun
Not on the back of envelopes
But on the bare breast of the One I love,
On the bare skin of the Country I love.
I don’t write them with a pencil stub
But with steel tools…
—Don’t think of a lance or sword,
My tools are tools of peace and of existence—
I don’t write verses of twelve feet
In counting on my fingers,
But of twelve-by twenty paces … and more.
My verses are written swath by swath
With the sharp steel of my scythe on the yellow hair of my country
The Sun turns them into fragrant poems
That my cows scatter for me during winter nights.
My verses are written with the blade of my plow
On the living flesh of my Brittany, furrow after furrow
—In which I hide grains of gold—
Springtime turns them into poems
Emerald seas waving in the breeze.
Summer turns them into lovely lakes of shafts
The Harvest-Wind sets them to music
And the clanging of the thresher sings them to me
During the hot days of the eighth month
During days of pain and dust and sweat
My poems sacred and …disdained!
Translated by Lenora Timm