Janine Canan  Translations

Ricarda HuchMarguerite YourcenarMirabaiElse Lasker-SchülerFrancis Jammes

Janine Canan is the translator of two early 20th c European poets, Francis Jammes and Else Lasker-Schüler: Under the Azure: Poems by Francis Jammes was published in Melbourne in 2010; Star in My Forehead: Poems by Else Lasker-Schüler in Minnesosta in 2000. Canan also published translations of Apollinaire, Heine, Huch, Marot, Mirabai, Rilke, Weil, Yourcenar and Yosano in her books Changing Woman and In the Palace of Creation.


Young Girl      by Ricarda Huch, translated by Janine Canan

Ricarda HuchSwirling spring.
Blossoming tree.
Flames of youth leap around her.
Untouched her flowing skirts swish by.
Leaves left by the years
decay at her feet.

Fearless glance.
Stormy steps straight into
the forest of danger.
Clashing weapons.
Calling song.
Festive crowd, streaming hair.

Brave in battle.
Lovely in dance.
Indifferent to fate or reward.
May fortune protect you.
What a crown will be yours
one day, oh Amazon....


Your Name      by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Janine Canan

Margueritte YourcenarYour name given you by your mother.
Your name poured down my bitter throat like a drop of poison honey.
Your name I cried under every sky and wept in every bed.
Your name I read in water-marks on every page of my misery.
Your name transparent as a tear shed by an Angel.
Your name like a beautiful naked child rolling in the mud.
Your name that bruises my mouth.
Your name I sleep with like a talisman.
Your name like a sentence condemning me to exile.
Your name I moan like a beggar who can’t stop lamenting even at the gate of a city in flames.
Your name so many sordid stories perch on like flies.
Your name people utter as if it were anyone’s.
Your name X for the unknown that is your self.
Your baptismal name inscribed in the black register of the Devil and the golden book of God.
Your name that nothing can ever make me forget.
Your name, along with your memory, the only thing you can never take from me,
since anyone under blue heaven may speak it.
Your name, each letter a nail in my crucifixion.
Your name, the only one I will recall on the morning of Resurrection.


Love     by Mirabai, translated by Janine Canan

MirabaiDo not mention the word Love,
my simple companion.   
The path turns strange
once you have offered your love.
At the first step, your body is crushed.
If you want to offer love, be prepared
to cut off your head and sit on it.
To circle the lamp like a moth
and drop your body.
To hand over your head like the deer
who hears the hunter's horn.
To swallow burning coals
like the partridge who fell
in love with the moon.
To yield your life like the fish
who was parted from the ocean.
To surrender like a bee caught
inside closing lotus petals.

Mira's beloved lifted the mountain
with one little finger.
She says, Offer your mind to Those lotus feet.


Exhausted, My Heart      by Else Lasker-Schüler, translated by Janine Canan

Else Lasker-SchülerExhausted, my heart rests
upon the night’s velvet
and stars lie down upon my eyelids.

I flow in the silver tones of an étude.
Am no more and yet am multiplied a thousand times—
spreading over our Earth—Peace.

I completed my life’s final chord—
quietly fading—as God intended:
A saving psalm—for the world to practice.




Hail Mary     by Francis Jammes, translated by Janine Canan

Francis Jammes

Hear her song Hail Mary sung by Kavisha


By the rainbow over a shower of white roses,
by the new thrill spreading through the branches
that made the shoot of Jesse flower;  
by the Annunciations laughing in the dew
and by the lowered eyelids of solemn fiancées:  
    I salute you, Mary.                            


By the exaltation of your humility
and the joy of the humble hearts you visit;
by the Magnificat launched from a thousand nests,  
by your lily hands pointing toward the holy Spirit    
and by Elisabeth, trellis trembling with fruit:
     I salute you, Mary.



By the donkey and the cow, the shadow and the straw,
by the poor woman told to go away,
by the births marked only by graves
with bouquets of frost and dove feathers, 
by the virtue that struggles and the virtue that fails: 
     I salute you, Mary.



By your modest offering of turtle doves,
by old Simeon weeping in front of the altar,
by Anne the prophet and Anne your mother,
by the unknown carpenter, bent over his cane,                        
quietly following a donkey’s little steps:          
       I salute you, Mary.


Finding Our Lord in the Temple

By the mother learning that her son is cured,
by the bird calling to the bird that fell from the nest,          
by the thirsty grass drinking in the rain,
by the kiss that is lost and the love found again,
and the beggar rediscovering his lost change:              
     I salute you, Mary.



By the little boy who dies at his mother’s side
while children are playing in the garden,                 
by the wounded bird who doesn’t understand
why his wing starts bleeding and drops;
by the thirst and the hunger and the burning frenzy:
     I salute you, Mary.



By the kids beaten when the drunk comes home,
by the donkey kicked in the belly,
by the humiliation of the innocent who are punished,
by the virgin sold and stripped,
by the son whose mother was insulted:
     I salute you, Mary.


Crown of Thorns

By the beggar who has never had any crown
but the flight of hornets, fond of the yellow orchards,  
nor any scepter but a stick to drive away dogs;
by the poet whose brow is bleeding, circled
in the bramble of desires he never attains:      
     I salute you, Mary.

Bearing the Cross

By the old woman stumbling beneath her burden  
who cries,“Oh God!” By the poor wretch
whose arms had no human love to lean on
like the Son’s Cross on Simon of Cyrene;       
by the horse crushed under his wagon:                 
     I salute you, Mary.



By the four directions that crucify this World,
by all whose flesh is broken or succumbs,     
by those with no feet and those with no hands,
by the sick man groaning in surgery,
by the just man convicted of murder:
     I salute you, Mary.



By the night that passes and shows us again
the wild rose laughing on the heart of the dawn;
by the Easter bells ringing in full momentum
on Holy Saturday, filling the mouth
of the valley with halleluiahs:
     I salute you, Mary.


By the hermit’s steep climb toward the summit
where the white partridges dwell,
by the herds that scale the heavenly dawn
to feed on nothing but honeyed snow,
and by the Ascent of the glorious sun:     
     I salute you, Mary.


By the shepherd fires that shine, at night,                            
on the faces of the hills, those praying apostles;
by the flame that cooks the poor man’s dark soup;
by the lightning with which the Spirit lights, like thatch
but for Eternity, the void of every human being:
      I salute you, Mary.


By the old woman who reaches, with her load of wood,   
the top of the road and the shadow of the Cross,         
whose most beautiful son comes to help in her pain;
by the dove whose flight toward the light                                  
dissolves and becomes pure prayer:
     I salute you, Mary.

Crown of the Holy Virgin

By the Queen who has never had any Crown
but the stars, treasure of ineffable Alms,
nor any scepter but the lily from an old garden;  
by the virgin whose face leans over, circled
in the roses of desires her love attains:                                         
     I salute you, Mary.


The Author






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