Superbe cadeau permanent

My youngest daughter, Roo, is 26 years old today. So it’s a good day to translate a poem about a superb gift and the passage of time.

“Impromptu” is by Jules Aïm, the blind poet who, with his wife Sabine, runs the bed & breakfast where we stayed in Paris this weekend. Jules’s poems employ strong rhyming couplets, but in this first attempt at poetry translation I am going to forego the travail of finding English rhymes as musical as his in order to stay as close as I can to what I take as the meaning of the poem. The collection which he gave me draws from annual volumes which Jules prepared for friends and family. He asked his readers to select their favorites, and those are the ones he included in the collection, titled Au Fil du Temps, Poèmes 1993-2003. In English the title might be To the Thread of Time.

I’ve been working on the translation here in our apartment in Cannes this morning, accompanied by a terrific CD I bought at the Musée Picasso yesterday. It’s a compilation of music which Picasso loved, “la palette sonore de Picasso,” the liner notes say, or “Picasso’s musical palette.” I enjoy the thought that he might have listened to this music as he worked, on a phonograph, or at least had these melodies moving through his mind as he did the work of creating a world in his art which had never existed before.

de Jules Aïm (montré avec la permission de l’auteur)

J’en pleure et j’en ris,
La vieilesse m’a supris
Au tournant d’une decade.
Les années comme une cascade,
Ont chute dans le temps,
Me laissant chancelant.
L’étonnement et l’émoi,
Lassent un trouble en moi.
Mais! il es bon de vieillir,
Avoir des bons souvenirs
Et regarder l’avenir,
Porteur de nouveaux plaisirs.
Oublions le temps qui passé,
Dur exercise qui nous lasse.
Faisons face au lendemain,
Continuité du destin.
Sourions au temps present,
Superbe cadeau permanent.

Tome IX – 19 août 2002


I cry, I laugh as old
age sneaks up on me
at the turn of a decade.
Years, like a waterfall,
tumbling down through time,
have left me unsteady.
Astonishment, turmoil
leave me troubled.

And yet! It is good to grow old,
to savor dear memories,
to gaze into the future,
bringer of new pleasures.

Let us forget the time passed,
its hard work which wearied us.
Let us look into tomorrow
for our continuing destiny.
Let us smile now at the present,
that superb and permanent gift.

VOLUME IX – August 19, 2002

Note: For anyone looking for a great B&B in Paris, we recommend chez Jules and Sabine highly. Our high-ceilinged room was very private, separate from the house in the same building as Sabine’s studio. The double bed was comfortable. The bathroom was tiny but had a great little tub with hand-held shower. Their e-mail address is and the phone number is 33.(0) .

Send to Kindle
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.