L'hominidé dans les hauteurs
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Hominid Up
Neil Shepard, Hominid Up, 7/2015
L'hominidé dans les hauteurs
Traduction de Michel Corne, 10/2016
Translation notes
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I write at night when the old hominidJ'écris la nuit quand le vieil hominidé
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climbs up to the highest branch of the braingrimpe vers la plus haute branche du cerveau
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and crouches there in a leafy crotchet se tapit là sur une fourche feuillue
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listening to the night-sounds snarling below ...écoutant les grognements de la nuit en bas ...grognements de la nuit (growlings/grunts of the night) translates best "night-sounds snarling" (bruits de la nuit qui grognent)
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his heart outracing the big cats of the savannah.le cœur plus rapide que les grands félins de la savane.plus rapide que (faster than) translates best "outracing" (dépassant)
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He's glad I'm civilized and live indoors,Il est content que je sois civilisé et vive en intérieur,
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far from the tooth and claw. Glad my centralloin des crocs et des griffes. Content que ma tuyauterietuyauterie (pipework/plumbing) translates best "central plumbing", "tuyauterie centrale" would be just awkward in French
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plumbing works, my TP dispenser full,fonctionne, le distributeur de PQ bien rempli,PQ translates best "TP" although it is more familiar, even considered as a bad word for some
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so he doesn't have to shit off a limb.pour qu'il n'ait pas à chier du haut d'une branche.
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And though he loves roosting with birds,Et, bien qu'il adore se percher avec les oiseaux,
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the wind rocking him, talking through the mouthsbercé par la vent, murmurant par la bouche
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of leaves, he loves also how the birds havedes feuilles, il apprécie aussi que les oiseaux servent
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been stuffed into the softest down pillowsà rembourrer les oreillers les plus moelleux
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where he may lay his head and dream. Dreamsoù il peut poser sa tête et rêver. Les rêves
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are scarce as water-holes where he's from,sont aussi rares que les points d'eau, d'où il vient,points d'eau (water point/source) translates best "water holes" (trous d'eau/puits)
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one eye always open for danger, oneun œil toujours ouvert en cas de danger, l'autrel'autre (the other) translates best "one [eye]", repeating "un œil " (one eye) would be somewhat clumsy in French
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for hunger. We're kin for sure: the old beastà cause de la faim. C'est sûr, nous sommes parents : la vieille bête
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in me sleeps lightly or barely sleeps.en moi a le sommeil léger et dort à peine.
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I wake often and watch him scratch himselfJe me réveille souvent, et je le regarde se gratter
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with a twig that could pass for a pencilavec une brindille qu'on pourrait prendre pour un crayon,
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or poke at a moon-lit line of ants thatou asticoter une colonne de fourmis, au clair de lune, quiasticoter (hassle/tease) translates best "poke" (pousser/piquer)
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resembles this scratched pentameter.ressemble à cette ébauche de pentamètre.
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Some nights we almost meet at a forking branchCertaines nuits, on se retrouve presque sur une croisée de branches
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where he chooses silence, and I, this speech.où il choisit le silence, et moi, ce discours.
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Author's note on the title
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The title, Hominid Up, is a bit of a problem, isn't it. In English, it has no exact meaning, but it has a lot of suggestion/connotation. Readers might interpret it in the following ways: 1) Hominid is up at the top of the evolutionary tree (which links to the hominid climbing to the highest branch of the brain); 2) echoing the baseball terminology "Batter up!" (which means, the next batter is ready to come to the plate and have his turn, his at-bat), Hominid is now "up," having his turn at the top of the evolutionary ladder in the Anthropocene era, to do either good or ill; 3) echoing the affective emotion of feeling "up" or the drug feeling of being high ("up"), so the Hominid at the top of the evolutionary ladder now feels "up"; 4) the early hominid (think Australopithecus) is alive at night in the higher brain of the evolved homo sapiens sapiens; 5) since this is an insomnia poem, the hominid (me) is up at night, battling the night-terrors and also turning those terrors into creative acts, poems.
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