Sunday, January 9, 2011

Birthday in Attiki

He says no with his head
but he says yes with his heart

he says yes to what he loves
he says no to the teacher

      he stands
      he is questioned
      and all the
      problems are posed

sudden laughter seizes him
and he erases all
the words and figures
names and dates
sentences and snares


        and despite the
        teacher's threats

        to the jeers of
        infant prodigies

with the chalk of every colour
on the blackboard of misfortune
he draws the face of happiness.

Jacques Prévert
The Dunce
Les Éditions du Point du Jour, 1947
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, translation
Éditions Gallimard
City Lights Books, 1958©


  1. all I can say is...

  2. Laurent said...
    Nice of you to endure this, but you make an irresistible target. I sometimes think of Rick’s bar in “Casablanca,” without Major Strasser, of course, but where a ribald gang of characters passes through, looking for trouble as their refuge and delight as their trouble; with you, in white dinner jacket, making sure that Frenchy gives everyone a decent table, but far enough apart so that it’s their imagination which brings them together; where it’s o-so-shocking to find that gambling might take place, despite the generous distribution of the winnings; where in the middle of it all a minstrel warns of time going by, and some of it wears blue and some of it grey; but where there’s always something to take the sting out of being occupied; and veteran denizens of the place - Your obedient servant, the crazy Roditis aunt in the attic, the aloof doodler who nevertheless Loves your place, and the tart observer of What makes it a scandal, exchange winks below the fold as gentle folk stray into this, of all the gin joints in the world, to ask for favours from its all too modest, heroic proprietor. But I don’t know why Rick lets his shutters still be drawn, by the Vichy sentinels in orange and blue uniform, yet it’s a good thing for him that this was framed in black and white, with slender bright green borders to attest to its ridiculous innocence. Not that this relates to you, it’s just something one thinks about, and you happened by with your alarming, sunny timing.
    January 12, 2011 4:38 AM