Cortège et Épinicie
Author : David Rosenmann-Taub
Bilingual Edition. Translated from the Spanish (Chile) by Luc Brébion
Éditions Bruno Doucey (2011)

From Bruno Doucey, Publisher: When Cortège et Épinicie was published in 1949, this first book by David Rosenmann-Taub, a poet born in 1927 in Santiago de Chile from a Jewish family originally from Poland, was acclaimed as a revelation, to such an extent that the French writer Francis de Miomandre said (1950): "He has an absolutely exceptional quality and tone, and I see no one, even in France, who dares to approach poetic expression with such a heartrending violence."

However, for lack of a translation, David Rosenmann-Taub’s oeuvre did not make its debut in France, and only now has appeared in our language. In publishing today this first collection of poems that has been reworked many times over the years, I intend to make this rare poet come into the light. We are here introducing the often exuberant creativity of a writer who knows how to open immediate life to unfathomable depth.

David Rosenmann-Taub (Santiago de Chile, 1927) is one of the most important contemporary poets of the Spanish language. His knowledge of language and of music blend to create an oeuvre endowed with a powerful originality. Cortejo y Epinicio, his first collection of poems, published when he was twenty-two, was hailed as a revelation: the debut of a unique new voice. With the passage of time, his complete absorption in his art and his aloofness from public life contributed to his status as a legendary figure. He is the author of many books, among them El Mensajero (The Messenger), El Cielo en la Fuente (The Sky in the Fountain), Los Despojos del Sol (The Remains of the Sun), País Más Allá (Country Beyond), Poesiectomía (Poetryectomy), Auge (Acme), Quince (Fifteen) (a book of commentaries by the author on fifteen of his poems) and his most recent (2011), La Opción (The Option). Outside of Chile, he has been published in numerous countries, including Spain, Italy, Mexico and India.

Éditions Bruno Doucey: To resist. To publish. To write: this could be the motto of Bruno Doucey’s publishing house, created in 2010, and its manifesto. Its editorial policy aims to highlight the united character of humanity and to build a new art of living together. Bruno Doucey, following in the footsteps of the famous French publisher of poetry Pierre Seghers, has chosen to reveal to us, without excluding anyone, the different facets of “a poetry which is as essential to man as his heartbeats.” (Le Magazine Littéraire, February 2012).

Excerpt from the postface by Luc Brébion for Cortège et Épinicie :

Rosenmann-Taub's existential and metaphysical questioning, implacable in its lucidity, remains permeated by compassion for the anxieties that assail humanity. He is committed “to the pain of living, to the solidarity of suffering” (Francis de Miomandre, 1951), and when we close one of his books, “ he leaves us in some way ‘cosmically’ desolated, but he also comforts us with that calm that floods into us when, having lived through a drama, we have to bow to the obviousness of a truth.”(Alberto Rubio, 1977).

David Rosenmann-Taub’s poetry demands a sustained attention so that its whole complexity and its multiple levels of meaning may be grasped. The reader will then discover a richness of which any translation, no matter how scrupulous, can only give a partial idea. Pedro Gandolfo, in a recent (2007) article, states that “Rosenmann-Taub's entire undertaking is subject to the intent of exploiting the poetry's phonic possibilities to the utmost, thus bringing it close to music: for him, the form, the content, and the spirit of the work, all inseparable, are caught by the ear.” Thanks to his qualities as a composer and performer, this intensely lyrical poet produces rhythmical pulsations, harmonics in syllables, silent pauses of various lengths, which express the emotions and the thoughts evoked by the words themselves. All these elements will be fully appreciated only in the original. Nevertheless, the poetic charge has so much force that it succeeds in transcending linguistic differences.


From Cortège et Épinicie (p. 198):

  Puma de luz: me he sumergido
en el cuarto de Sara,
hurgando una quimera de pudores y almizcles
en las gavetas donde ya no hay nada:
embriaguez de baldosa con lluvia,
de retratos o broches o acacias.

  He estregado un montón de polvo
en los presidios de mi cara:
matza flagrante, sonora gamuza,
crinolinas de porcelana,
tropel de muñecas y valses
y abanicos y chapas.

  Tras mascar el ropero vacío,
rasguñando el rincón de la lámpara,
he lamido tapiz y paredes:
sequedal hacia esponjas de hazaña:
con el jaral bullir de las polillas
un destello de cinta se enmañana.

  El yeso me ha otorgado sus bodegas:
he ajordado, vicioso, por la rambla
de la victrola desaparecida:
por su cardumen de pizarra cálida:
tobogán de cerezas
para arribar al nácar de la infancia.

  Arderme, persistirme,
hasta brotarme palmas en las palmas:
frenesí de fronteras,
tan remoto, en volandas,
tan mendigo, tan dentro
me buscaba y jadeaba y buscaba
el olor sin color, sin aroma,
de ciertas lágrimas.

  Puma of light: I have plunged
into Sara’s room,
rummaging through a chimera of modesties and musks
in the drawers where there is nothing anymore:
intoxication of rain-soaked tile,
of portraits or brooches or locust trees.

  I have rubbed a heap of dust
into the prisons of my face:
glowing matzoh, sounding suede,
porcelain crinolines,
throng of dolls and waltzes
and fans and locks.

  Having chewed the empty armoire,
scratching the corner where the lamp was,
I licked tapestry and walls:
dry earth up against sponges of derring-do:
with the swarming tangle of moths
a glimmer of ribbon dawns.

  The plaster has granted me its storerooms:
I have cried out, addicted, for the esplanade
of the vanished victrola:
for its shoal of warm slate:
toboggan of cherries
on which to arrive at the nacre of childhood.

  To set myself ablaze, to keep persevering,
until my palms sprout palms:
frenzy of frontiers,
so remote, in the air,
such a beggar, so inwardly
was I seeking myself and was panting and seeking
the colorless, odorless smell
of certain tears.


© 2012 Luc Brebion, All Rights Reserved