Joan Bodon: False Dawn (From Occitan)

Another translation of an Occitan poem by Joan Bodon. His formal features are the sort of challenge I relish, as they force the translator into unexpected directions, ways of rendering that go beyond the surface. Though I certainly took more liberties with this one than the last one I translated.  

False Dawn
Joan Bodon (mid 20th cent.)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

A false dawn creeps up on the hills. Who knows
If the bird's cry will hail the morning on? 
Soon there will be a stir of beds and clothes,
A priest will sing his Latin all alone.

The little girl in white who weeps for dawn...
Look at her, friend, at the path's edge in dread.
Why this mulberry pick against her heart?
Spilt blood has stained the whitethorn flower red. 

Down from the heavens this new dawn unfurls:
Flesh in decay under a linen sheet. 
A votive candle of death burns in the chapel:
A lark moving its one last beat.


Stanza 3: "A lark moving its wings"... allusion to one of the most famous poems by the medieval Occitan troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn (my translation available here.) There are a few other allusions to trobadoric literature throughout.

The Original:

Alba Falsa

Una alba falsa se trigòssa suls puèges.
Qual sap se l'aucèl cridarà lo matin?
Començaràn lèu los saquejals dels lièches,
Tot sol un rector va cantar son latin...

La filha blanca que de l’alba se plora,
Vei-la, mon amic, a la broa del camin.
Mas perqué sul seu còr aquel picon d’amora?
Lo sang a techat sus la flor d’albespin.

Davala del cèl aquela alba novèla,
La carn se blasís jos la tela de lin.
Un ciri de mòrt crèma dins la capèla:
Lauseta que mòu sas alas... A la fin...

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