• Robert L. Giron

Issue 47 — John Taylor

John Taylor


from Wild Seraphic Fire by Veroniki Dalakoura



Visions


In a strange dream, numbers replaced my words.


Not knowing how to express truth by equations, I preferred to use down-to-earth notions that would not wound sidereal cogitations.


The friends of planets got angry, vipers spit their venom at me, axioms of superb minds continued to flee from orifices.


“We are alone, dear Cor(ruption),” whispered my companion into my ear.


I observed him. He was very tall, dark green in color, and ashy sparkles flowed for miles from the pupils of his eyes.


“Girl of the Compassions,” I corrected. “Girl of the Compassions who seeks love in pieces of fruit.”


—by Veroniki Dalakoura, from Agria Angeliki Photia (Wild Seraphic Fire), Athens: Agra Editions, 1997.


—translated from the Greek by John Taylor (2011).





Woman Friend


A single ray of light was shining through the entirely white forest from one end to the other, and this increased the bewilderment in that the mass of the firmament was still reasserting its darkness.


The sun had not yet risen. The snow was weighing down the branches and had drifted up to the first step, preventing our door from opening easily.


This segment of the day, which was supposed to be early morning, was immaculate, fragrant. A cherub bent on rousing insects kept repeating: “Steadfast love, resplendent body.” I recognized Sonia’s voice. As I approached, she appeared ever further away, but the tracks that I noticed in the snow, in the forest clearing, were hers.


—by Veroniki Dalakoura, from Agria Angeliki Photia (Wild Seraphic Fire), Athens: Agra Editions, 1997.


—translated from the Greek by John Taylor (2011).





I Play and I Lose


Under the light of a lunar night, a silent man bends over and draws cards from a deck. His face has the intent look of a card player, yet the man, lost in his calculations, is dwelling, with the greatest discretion, on the next day.


Is it maturity or coincidence that has pushed me near him, during this stroll in the depths of a city belonging to him?


Scattered words, transgressions, throbbing heartbeats, widespread disorder, and then She who slaps me in the face crudely and pathetically, biting my lips, yet seeking what?


“Mother,” I stammer, exhausted, “it’s not my fault if I have lost my way in a red fog. Look!”


An astonishing assertion of self.





—by Veroniki Dalakoura, from Agria Angeliki Photia (Wild Seraphic Fire), Athens: Agra Editions, 1997.


—translated from the Greek by John Taylor (2011).



Biographies:


John Taylor

Taylor is the author of the three-volume Paths to Contemporary French Literature and Into the Heart of European Poetry. He has also written five books of stories, short prose, and poetry, the latest of which is The Apocalypse Tapestries. A new collection of short prose, If Night Is Falling, will appear in 2012. He has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to translate Georges Perros's Papiers collés, and from the Sonia Raiziss Charitable Foundation to translate Louis Calaferte's Le sang violet de l'améthyste. He has also translated books by Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Philippe Jaccottet, Laurence Werner David, Jacques Dupin, and several modern Greek writers. He writes the "Poetry Today" column in the Antioch Review and has long been a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement. He lives in France.



Veroniki Dalakoura


Dalakoura is a Greek poet whose work shows the influence of surrealism. She published her first book, Poiisi ’67-’72 ("Poetry 1967-1972"), a second volume, I parakmi tou erota ("The Decline of Eros"). Her books often combine poems, prose poems, and longer narratives in provocative ways. These volumes include O hypnos ("Sleep, 1982"), To paihnidi tou telous ("The Game of the End, 1988"), Meres idonis ("Days of Lust, 1990"), Agria angeliki photia ("Wild Seraphic Fire, 1997"), and O pinakas tou Hodler ("Hodler’s Painting, 2001"). Her most recent collection of verse is 26 Poiimata ("26 Poems, 2004"). Dalakoura’s work often develops themes related to eroticism and spirituality. She is also a noted translator of French literature. John Taylor’s essay about Dalakoura, “Eros and Other Spiritual Adventures,” is comprised in his book Into the Heart of European Poetry. John Taylor’s translations of her poems have appeared in several magazines and anthologies.

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