Not a final draft.

Edward Lacie (edwa318@webtv.net)

Dear George,

I'm working on an explication of Baysans's translation of the Rimbaud poem "H" and would appreciate your comments.

Thanks for your time,


Greg has really done a rather free translation. Especially problematic is "Even in childhood, she's been--as growth rings accumulate--the pruner of family tress." I don't get this at all from the Rimbaud line, which reads literarally from the French: "With a child-like eye, she was in many eras an ardent sanitizer of races of people." 

I also have problems with the translation of "Posterity foments in her passion or passage." 
I like "ugly love-slobber"--but it's not in the Rimbaud poem.       

Likewise, "trouvez" does not mean "Look out for Hortense." 

"Trouvez" means "look for." The word in French for "look out for" is "garder." 


Dear George,

I forget that Baysans uses the term "interpretation" rather than "translation" for his treatment(s) of Rimbaud. 

I'm sorry that "pruner of family trees" is problematic; it's my own favorite part of the "interpretation". 
Other translations include "passionate hygiene of the races" and "ardent cleanser of humanity" - phrases which don't exactly make me swoon. Or tell me a thing. 

"(P)runer of family trees" . . . . trying to comment on the line, I'm left only to repeat it. "As growth rings accumulate" for "as time goes by" seems poetic to me as well, more so perhaps because it is not found in the original but "sets up" the "family tree" zinger. 

(Baysans's similar approach to "Apres les Deluge" allows for the wonderfully jarring inclusion of the  World Trade Center [written before 9-11-01].) 

The aptness of the tree and other wood imagery ("springboard") continue to reverberate when the reader recognizes what a "woody" (erection) poem it is. For me, because of these associations, this "interpretation" is clearer than "translations" are. 

Reading the Baysans "interpretation" of "H" I can see the masturbation subtext, which I've read mention of, much clearer than in any other translation. I'll tell ya, after reading "pruner of family trees" the next few times I gave myself a whack I couldn't help but remember the phrase. 



-Edward Lacie, 2/11/2003


Thank you for all the ideas on the Baysans poem. Once you explained that he was attempting an "interpretation" rather than a translation, it all made better sense. Rimbaud then becomes a taking off point rather than an ending. After all, we have plenty of translations already of Rimbaud. And I am certainly in favor of anything that enhances masturbation! 


Click here to read Greg Baysans's "Translations"