Occitan poetry  980-2006

by Joan-Frederic Brun


 Xavièr Bach 

Medieval poetry: the kingdom of love
XVI-XVIII century: tasty baroque antiliteratures
XIX th century: toward a renaissance
XIX th century (1854-1914):  spreading and sclerosis of the Provençal miracle
XX th century (1920-1965): the anguish of no future
XX th century (1965-1981): "un país que vòl viure" (a country that just wants to live)
XX th century (1981-2000): postoccitanisme
XXI th century: just a living literature among many other ones? 


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Xavièr Bach  is a young Occitan poet of the XXIth century, whose powerful texts have been already remarked by the late Bernat Manciet, Most of them have been published in "OC". He translated into French the poems of Olivier Lamarque. His Occitan poems are beautifully adapted to English by a young British lady, Louise Esher, who is not only a great connoisseur of Occitan language and literature, but, even more, is a true Occitan writer!

With this beautiful translation, I think that most of the exquisite taste of this limpid and lightening poetry will be accessible to the English-reading visitor of these pages...


Coma sus la branca l'aucèl
Secat e poirit de l'ivèrn
Coma lo còr mitat burèl
Mitat òrb, mitat - e lo vèrm -
Lo temps reguitna.

Lo vent s'escrifa sus la prada
La filha crida - lo vent mut
Dirà per totes son astrada.
A la tornada del vençut,
Lo temps reguitna.

E sul sulhet de l'error maire
Un eròi cèc d'aiga senhat
Conta que d'òbras n'i a pas gaire
Que revertèssen l'amistat
Qu'al temps reguitna.


Like the bird on the branch,
Dried out and rotted by winter,
Like the heart half brown
Half blind, half - and the maggot -
Time lashes out.

The wind tears apart over the field
The girl cries out - the mute wind
Will tell her good fortune to the world.
At the return of the conquered,
Time lashes out.

And on the threshold of the mother error
A blind hero blessed in water
Tells how few are the works
Which resemble friendship
That lashes out at time.

Translation : Louise Esher.


Per un Narcissi

l'anar de son còs mut se mirava dins l'aiga

frega-bronzissiá son vestit ispre de tela rufa qu'acrancava una rómec aguirlandida d'un sause rosselh a la bròca seca d'un garric; las fuèlhas cracinavan jol córrer de sa camba lassa; s'alisava lo pitre per la camisa mièg dubèrta mentre que lo vent...

l'anar de son còs mut se mirava dins l'aiga

l'esclau èra estacat a la còrda de pèira; sa man cercava son cap e sa man furgava sos pèlses de desirança; sa cara s'enaurava de la jòia d'una mòrt; sa man cercava son còr.

l'agrat de son còs mut se mirava dins l'aiga

i a temps una dròlla l'aviá seguit a la broa de l'aiga; avián begut amassa una taça de vin, negre, sorne, qu'aviá faitas lors caras mai claras que l'entrelusir de boscalha; sa man fernissiá.

l'agrat de son còs nud se mirava dins l'aiga

gaitava, de longa; las causòtas blavas e vivas, los casses ronhoses bronzinent de ferum e la tornada parièra de sa cuèissa alisada.

l'agrat de son còr nud se mirava dins l'aiga

los bòsques èran cauds e lo cèl negrissiá; dont mai veniá la nuèit, dont mai son agach s'atrumava, asuaudit de tubas doças e candas; lo babau de son sénher s'arrapava a la flor pesolhièra; Narcissi se levèt...

Xavièr Bach.


 For a Narcissus

the water a mirror for his silent body's movement

his rough shirt of coarse cloth rustled, caught on a bramble strung garland-like from a yellowed elder to the dry branch of an oak; the leaves rustled beneath his tired legs' running; through the half-open shirt, he ran his hand over his chest as the wind...

the water a mirror for his silent body's movement

the slave was bound with a rope of stone; his hand sought for his head and his hand searched through his hair with desire; his face shone golden with the joy of a death; his hand sought for his heart.

the water a mirror for his silent body's consent

long ago, a girl had followed him to the water's edge; they had drunk together a cup of dark, sombre wine, which had made their faces brighter than the dappled light of a clearing; his hand trembled.

the water a mirror for his naked body's consent

for a long time he gazed at the blue scurrying things, the peeling oaks rustling with birds, and his hand returning ever along his leg.

the water a mirror for his naked heart's consent

the woods were hot and the sky was darkening; the closer the night drew, the thicker the storm-clouds gathered in his eyes, softened by pure and gentle mists; the ladybird clung to the aphid-ridden flower; Narcissus stood up...

Traduction : Louise Esher (Oxford).

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