Mon, 06/01/2009 - 20:57

Part 5 of Vagabond's series on a project of the embassies of the 27 member-states and Turkey in Sofia adopts a wall in the city centre and adorns it with a poem

poetry wall france.jpg
Poetry wall, France


Small City Theatre Behind the Canal, 2 Madrid Blvd FRANCE

Paul Éluard, one of the founders of surrealism, was born on 14 December 1895 in Saint-Denis, Paris. He had tuberculosis as a young man and went to a Swiss sanatorium for treatment, where he met Gala, a Russian intellectual and fellow patient. In 1917 they married – however, she left him in 1924 for Salvador Dali. After the First World War Éluard was a leading figure in French avant-garde poetry. He participated in the dada and surrealist movements along with Tristan Tzara, André Breton, Louis Aragon, Max Ernst and other famous writers and artists. Éluard also joined the French Resistance and in 1942 became a member of the French Communist Party. He travelled to England, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Mexico and Russia and published more than 70 books during his lifetime. He died of a heart attack in 1952 and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer

I was born to know you
And to name you

Translated by A. S. Kline



Lozenets Municipality, 2 Vasil Levski Bvld

Poetry wall Cyprus

Pantelis Mechanicos (1926-1979) is a notable Cypriot poet. His literary debut came in 1952 in the journal Kipriaka gramata. He has published three collections of poetry: the first, Detours, appeared in 1957, followed by The Two Mountains in 1963. Immediately following the 1976 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, he published the third collection under the suggestive title Testimonies. His poetry is laconic, striving for reticence and complete closure, yet it frequently resembles conversation overheard on the street. In 1955 Giorgos Seferis, the first Greek Nobel laureate, wrote to his Cypriot counterpart: "You posses your own view of things. That grabbed my attention when I first read your poetry."


Άγγελε σκληρέ,
δώσε μου το κουράγιο
να λογχίζω τα σπλάχνα μου,
δώσε μου το κουράγιο να πονώ,
δώσε μου το κουράγιο να περπατήσω
γυμνός απάνω στα καρφιά.
Άγγελε σκληρέ,
σκότωσέ με
στον σκληρό δρόμο
μη μ΄αφήσεις
στην εύκολην ευθεία.
Χτύπησέ με με κνούτο,
μάτωσέ με,
κάνε την ψυχή μου να κλάψει
αλλά να ιδώ,
να ιδώ το πουλί
να λαλεί το δέντρο
ν' ανθεί τον σπόρο να κάνει το θάυμα
Βγάλε το θάυμα
μές' απ' το αίμα μου.


Harsh Angel,
give me the courage
to pierce my guts,
give me the courage to suffer pain,
give me the courage to walk naked
on the nails.
Harsh Angel,
kill me on the hard road
do not let me take
the easy way.
Flog me with a whip,
make me bleed,
make my soul weep,
but let me see
let me see
the bird sing
the tree bloom
the seed make the miracle.
Bring forth the miracle
from my blood.

Translated by Rhea Frankofinou



BTC, 4 Gurko St

Poetry wall Italy

Dante Alighieri secured his position in both Italian and world literature for his Divina Commedia, or Divine Comedy. Written in exile, this masterpiece is divided into three parts: "Inferno," or Hell, "Purgatorio," or Purgatory, and "Paradiso," or Paradise. In his journey through these realms, the writer is accompanied by another poet, Virgil, and his beloved Beatrice. Dante wrote his poetry in the Tuscan dialect, thus establishing it as the standard Italian language, and his Divina Commedia is regarded as one of the great works of the Renaissance.

Dante was born in Florence in 1265 to an eminent family. He was a soldier, physician, pharmacist and member of the city council. The political conflict in the city between two opposing factions ended with the defeat of the one his family were allied to. Exiled from his native Florence, he could not return there under pain of death. He lived and wrote in different places in Italy, such as Roma and Verona, and is even supposed to have visited Paris and Oxford. Dante died in 1321 and was buried in Ravenna.

Omai convien che tu così ti spoltre,
disse 'l maestro; ché, seggendo in piuma,
in fama non si vien, né sotto coltre;
sanza la qual chi sua vita consuma,
cotal vestigio in terra di sé lascia,
qual fummo in aere e in acqua la schiuma.
E però leva sù: vinci l'ambascia
con l'animo che vince ogne battaglia,
se col suo grave corpo non s'accascia.

Dante Alighieri, La Divina Commedia
Inferno, Canto XXIV, 46-54

"You must now free yourself from sloth,"
The Master said; "because men do not achieve fame
Sitting on down or under quilts;
And whoever his life consumes without acquiring fame
Leaves only such trace of himself on earth
As smoke does in the air or foam upon the water.
Therefore straighten up; do overcome your anguish
With the spirit that o'ercometh every battle
Unless its bodily weight crushes it down."

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
Inferno, Canto XXIV, 46-54

Read more Wall-to-Wall poems here (Part 1), here (Part 2), here (Part 3), and here (Part 4).

Issue 33

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