THE NIGHT BEFORE ST. JOHN’S DAY

The shortest night of the year.
The night of the longest day
Ten o’clock! Night doesn’t fall
Every form is crystal-clear and well-defined in the distance.
The sky has a palor so semi-mourning:
Stifling blue, thin, unfeeling, wordless,
The color of mystery, the color of nostalgia,
The solor of memories…

The brightness of the moon. Full.
The stars not yet visible.
The night has a pensive look.
A nostalgic look, a sad thought perhaps
About customs fallen by the Wayside.
The brightness and happiness preceding
The nights before St. John’s Day
In the fields of Brittany and in the small bourgs.
Red flames are rising in every hamlet.
The smell of smoke in the night air.
The piercing shouts of children
Who have climbed atop the hedges
Around the hills
Counting the bonfires
One after another.

This night alone, above the ground
A quiet bonfire, a cold bonfire:
The bright moon,
In her fullness
Shining on the heath
The night before St.-John’s Day.

March 1965.

Translated by Lenora Timm





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