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October 09: Three poems in Channel Islands Norman French by Geraint Jennings

Geraint Jennings is co-editor with Jan Marquis of the anthology of Channel Islands Norman French literature The Toad and the Donkey, to be published by Francis Boutle Publishers in Summer 2010.

> See details of The Toad and the Donkey

À ces sé is the last of the sequence  of sonnets entitled "À matîn, à ch't' arlévée, à ces sé" ("This morning, this afternoon, this evening"), first published in 2007 in the Jèrriais magazine "Les Nouvelles Chroniques du Don Balleine" and reprinted in "micRomania", a European magazine of minority Romance language literature.

À ces sé
 
La lueu du rêsèrveux blyînque blianche au bliu du sé;
lé couochant lanche des pétales d'rose sus les côtis.
Du haut du mont jé d'vale – l'alanchie dans l'èrfliet
d'la mathe tchi m'fliatte atout eune fliotte dé caûques-souôthis.
 
Et j'pâsse par des fôssés endgèrrués en nièr,
entouortilyis dé veîl'yes dé r'lié et d'amèrdoux.
Les rêvacheurs d'la niet en vithevardant d'travèrs
ont voltilyi par 'chîn, par là – des vielles d'avoût.
 
La batt'tie d'ches néthes ailes a libéthé man tchoeu:
rôdant les c'mîns à la r'vèrdie, j'touônne en ouéthou.
Les pétales sont pouôrries et n'yées dans la nièrcheu;
les caûques-souothis ont chuchi l'rouoge d'la séthée d'v'lous.
 
Tout veint à fîn: un jour, un c'mîn, un tchoeu tchi bat,
les dreines lueuthes d'eune séthée, man soûffl'ye et man suffat.

This evening

The light of the reservoir blinks white in the blue of the evening;
the sunset throws rose petals on the côtils.
From the top of the hill I descend – diving into the reflection
of the pool which caresses me with a flock of bats.

And I pass by the hedgerows overgrown blackly with ivy,
entwined with field bindweed and woody nightshade.
The dreamers of the night zigzagging across my path
have fluttered here and there – summer whirlwinds.

The beating of these black wings has freed my heart:
roaming the roads at dusk, I turn into a shapeshifting spirit.
The petals are rotten and drowned in the darkness;
the bats have sucked the red from the velvet evening.

Everything comes to an end: a day, a road, a beating heart,

the last tatters of an evening, my breath and my burden.

 

The poem Mai/May was written in 2009 in response to a challenge by the Norman language association "Magène" for poets to supplement the cycle of poems on the theme of the months of the year left unfinished at his death by Gires Ganne (pseudonym of Fernand Lechanteur 1910–1971)

Mai

Les vîsiteurs ânionnent, les touristes sont r'tèrgis;
les gens d'ichîn les spêlent sus la grève au mais d'Mai -
les vièrs pronmènent lus tchians, les jannes d'la seurféthie
couothent ava lé sablion, auve lus hahas et brais.

Mais y'en a ieune assise: eune hardelle sus l'grannit
à s'caûffer sus les blios au solé du mais d'Mai.
La grève porte san sablion coumme oulle est habilyie;
eune lisiéthe dé ventre entre tee-corset et braies.

Ou vait, mais ou n'ouait pon, en rêvachant du r'sîn.
Oulle êcoute sa machinne, au run des mauves dé Mai
tchi valsent à l'alanchie auve du s'na et du scîn.
Mais lyi, oulle est rêjouie d'sa jouôthie d'mp3.

Pliodgie dans sa musique, aransée sus l'talustre,
ou dgette lé monde tchi pâsse sus l'sablion du mais d'Mai:
les c'valièrs au galop, lus j'vaux si fièrs et frustres
tchi tabouothinnent atout lus chabots par la baie.


May

Visitors hold back, tourists are delayed;
local people stand in for them on the beach in the month of May -
old people walk their dogs, the youngsters of the surfing crowd
run down the sand, with laughs and shouts.

But there's someone sitting: a girl on the granite
warming herself on the blocks in the sun of the month of May.
The beach wears its sand like she is dressed;
a strip of stomach between t-shirt and trousers.

She sees, but doesn't hear, while dreaming of the surf.
She listens to her machine, instead of to the seagulls of May
waltzing and diving with skill and wizardry.
As for her, she is happy playing her mp3s.

Plugged into her music, lying back on the seawall,
she watches people passing on the sand of the month of May:
riders galloping, their horses proud and strong
drumming with their hooves along the bay.

 

Apollon et Daphné was a prizewinner in a poetry competition held by the Jersey Heritage Trust in 2003 in conjunction with La Faîs'sie d'Cidre – the annual cidermaking festival. Poets were encouraged to use names of traditional Jersey apple varieties such as Belles Fil'yes, Douoches Danmes and Nièr Binnet.

Apollon et Daphné
 
Quand, dans les touos vièrs temps, la Daphné fut changie
en bouais pouor s'êcapper à l'embraiche d'Apollon,
lé louothi d'vînt la couronne ès poètes. Mais l'pommyi
nos donne lé cidre tch'enivre nos rêves - et chutte bouaisson
 
arrouôs'sa les vèrsets envitoués d'chu rînmeux.
Mes lèvres embraichent eune vèrrée înspithée d'pur jus,
et coumme la Daphné, bouaisie dans les bras d'un dgieu,
mes patholes sont mes frits, et mes poésies fieillues
 
flieuthissent.  Nos tchoeurs es'sont êtampés dans l'preinseu.
Couoche don lé mar d'amour - tan jus couort dans mes lîngnes,
et ch'est l'pommyi tchi m'donne les tchêtinnes dé san tchoeu,
meûthes coumme les mouaithes ès ronches, ou bein l'vèrjus ès vîngnes.
 
Ch'fut Êve, la maitrêsse nue dé chu preunmié gardîn,
tch'offrit à sén Âdam lé fanmeux frit d'fendu.
La Tchête dé l'houmme, tout coumme les pommes tchi tchaient d'un clyîn
dg'yi, a louochi nos tchoeurs. Êden n'est pus connu.
 
“Bai eune gorgie, man fis. Né sai pus innouothant!”
Ch'est l'sèrpent dé Genêse tchi m'chuchote dans mes ouïes.
Les Belles Fil'yes trînquent lus vèrres, et les Douoches Danmes rithent blianc,
jutchies là, vèrtes et rouoges ­– des ouaîsieaux d'Paradis.
 
Lus plieunmes dé p'liche fliatt'tont des mots dé souos l'amet.
Deux d'gouts lav'thont ma pé coumme les dés d'eune déêsse.
Pouor r'aver ma pomme d'or, j'èrdonne Hélène dé Trouaie;
mille navithes à la fîn èrveinnent d'eune mé ivrêsse.
 
Lus plianches en bouais d'pommyi es'sont r'pliantées ichîn;
i' r'craîtront dans chutte tèrre, èrmettront lus réchinnes;
lus sèrpents d'mé dgett'tont les frits d'fendus du scîn;
et j'baithai eune bouochie dé cidre, dé ch't' ieau divinne.
 
J'craûl'lai, à maîntchi souîn, en couothant souotre Daphné.
Donne-mé eune fais à béthe! J'té donn'nai eune poésie!
Les dans'rêsses du gardîn - les n_mphes du Nièr Binnet -
mé happent. J'ai bu. J'vai doubl'ye... et j'tchai bas dans l'oublyi.
 
Apollo and Daphne

When, long ago, Daphne was changed
into a tree to escape from Apollo's embrace,
the laurel became the crown of poets. But the apple tree
gives us the cider that intoxicates our dreams - and this drink

will water the tipsy verses of this poet.
My lips embrace an inspired glassful of unfermented cider,
and like Daphne, embowered in the arms of a god,
my words are my fruit, and my leafy poems

flourish. Our hearts will be crushed in the cider press.
Therefore spread out the layers of love pulp - your juice runs in my lines,
and it's the apple tree that gives me the windfalls of its heart,
ripe as the blackberries on the brambles or even the grapes on the vines.

It was Eve, the naked mistress of that first garden,
who offered to her Adam the famous forbidden fruit.
The Fall of man, just like the apples which fall in the blink
of an eye, has shaken down our hearts. Eden is no longer known.

"Take a swig, my son. Don't be ignorant any longer!"
It's the serpent of Genesis who whispers in my ears.
The Beautiful Girls clink their glasses, and the Gentle Ladies laugh heartily,
perched up there, green and red - birds of Paradise.

Their apple-peel feathers stroke words from the platform of the cider press.
A couple of drops will wash my skin like the fingers of a goddess.
To get back my golden apple, I give back Helen of Troy;
a thousand ships finally return from a drunken sea.

Their planks of applewood will be replanted here;
they will grow again in this earth, will put down roots again;
their sea serpents will watch over the forbidden fruit of occult knowledge;
and I will drink a mouthful of cider, of that divine water.

I will sway, half drunk, and run after Daphne.
Give me a drink! I'll give you a poem!
The dancing girls of the orchard - the Nièr Binnet nymphs -
catch me. I've drunk. I see double ... and I fall down into forgetfulness.

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