Ghérasim Luca's poem "La Poésie Pratique" / "Practical Poetry" contains the following lines:

En pratiquant le bouche à bouche de mot à mot
de « feu » le mort à « feu » vif
d' « ellipse » géométrique en « ellipse » grammaticale
l'ellipse de flamme
Novalis mouilla jadis
rallume ici

« le sale on »
que l'Autre larron
désespérait tant d'entrevoir
« au fond du lac »

In English (translated by Google, as I'm not a native English speaker):

Practicing mouth-to-mouth word-for-word
from “fire” the dead to “fire” alive
from geometric “ellipse” to grammatical “ellipse”
the ellipse of flame that
Novalis once dampened
reignites here
“the dirty one”
that the Other rogue
was so desperate to glimpse
“at the bottom of the lake”

It's clear to me that Ghérasim Luca is proposing a new form of poetry. But overall, I found this poem very difficult to understand. Specially the allusion to Novalis ("l'ellipse de flamme / que / Novalis mouilla jadis / rallume ici"). Could anyone explain this to me?

  • 1
    Bonjour and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. This is an excellent question, but you are right, the translation is bad. I'm not qualified to translate French poetry, but I've corrected the more egregious errors, hopefully without introducing howlers of my own. With luck, a more skilled and fluent translator will happen along.
    – verbose
    Nov 14, 2023 at 5:32
  • 4
    I assume it's a reference to a quote by Novalis, "Water is a dampened flame". No idea what the actual significance of this is in the poem's context.
    – CDR
    Nov 14, 2023 at 17:30
  • 2
    “L’eau est une flamme mouillée” if you want to Google the original source. I also don’t know what it’s significance in the poem is.
    – Peter Shor
    Nov 14, 2023 at 20:37
  • 1
    And "Wasser ist eine nasse Flamme" in the actual German original (although maybe the French is more relevant for this poem).
    – Peter Shor
    Nov 15, 2023 at 12:48
  • 1
    Is "le sale on" wordplay on "le salon"? I suspect so. I don’t know French well enough to catch most plays on words in that language, though. I have no idea what "au fond du lac" could be, if it's a similar play on words.
    – Peter Shor
    Nov 15, 2023 at 12:49


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