the hurtling tornado  bears down on poplars

Language: French
Poet: Pierre Chappuis
Translator: Tim Keane and Myriam Moraz


the hurtling tornado
bears down on poplars

A poem by Pierre Chappuis translated from French by Tim Keane and Myriam Moraz

Pierre Chappuis was born in 1930 in Switzerland, in the Bern region of the Jura mountains. He studied at the University of Geneva before teaching French literature in the county of Neuchâtel where he still lives. His works include Le biais des mots (1998), Dans La foulée (1996), D’un pas suspendu (1994) La preuve par le vide (1992), Moins que glaise (1990), and Eboulis et autres poèmes (1984).
Tim Keane’s poems from his first collection Alphabets of Elsewhere (Cinnamon Press 2007) appeared in Modern Painters, Denver Quarterly, Poetry New Zealand, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He has just finished a new poetry collection. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from CUNY Graduate Center and teaches modern European literature and writing at BMCC, CUNY. More at
Myriam Moraz studied English, Spanish, French and Latin at the University of Lausanne where she now teaches French as a foreign language, specializing in phonetics. She is much engaged in language studies through poetry writing and translations. Her translations of Swiss poets into English have appeared in Drunken Boat, Cerise Press, Le Persil and Silk Road. Myriam and Tim Keane are working on an anthology of translations of contemporary Swiss romande poets.

Tel un cri

Tel un cri (d’où ? de qui ?), le tourbillon de la foudre s’allume. Nuit secouée, jetée à terre, reformée pour être ressaisie (étranger, hôte de passage tâtonnant entre les meubles), sauvagement prise et reprise. Dehors, champs, villages s’illuminent. Saillies, bondissements, nuit déhiscente (quel autre bruit plus lointain, plainte ou aboi ?), lueurs sur le pays déchiqueté, fractions englouties avant d’être aboutées, franchissement de l’abîme, dévalement de la tornade sur les peupliers, les jardins piétinés. Tel l’oiseau fabuleux (dormeur que le songe enveloppe de nouveau), la pluie, dans l’amorce grise du matin, ne viendra qu’une fois le calme rétabli.

Like A Cry

Like a cry (from where? from who?), whirlwind from the lightning flash. Night is shaken, knocked to the ground, recovers to be steadied again (stranger, passing guest,  groping among the furniture), savagely seized and seized again. Outside, fields, villages, light up. Jutting, leaping, dehiscent night (which noise is further, the barking or the moaning?), glimmers over decimated earth, portions swallowed before coming to a head, clearing the chasm, the hurtling tornado bears down on poplars, trampled gardens. Like the mythical bird (sleeper wrapped in dream once more), the rain, in morning’s gray light, will only come once the calm’s restored.