Two Poems by Joyce Mansour

From Emerald Wounds, Translated by Emilie Moorhouse

July 25, 2023  By Joyce Mansour

Translated by Emilie Moorhouse

A woman created the sun

A woman created the sun
Inside her
And her hands were beautiful
The earth plunged beneath her feet
Assailing her with the fertile breath
Of volcanoes
Her nostrils quivered her eyelids drooped
Weighed down by the heavy silt of the pillow
It is night
And the calm wound where the breathless void dies
Strikes, struggles, opens and quietly closes
on the swaying rod of Noah the explorer.


Une femme créait le soleil

Une femme créait le soleil
En elle
Et ses mains étaient belles
La terre plongeait sous ses pieds
L’assaillant de l’haleine fertile
Des volcans
Ses narines palpitaient ses paupières se baissaient
Empesées par le lourd limon de l’oreiller
C’est la nuit
Et l’égratignure tranquille où meurt le vide haletant
Se bat se débat s’ouvre et doucement se ferme
Sur la verge dodelinante de Noé l’explorateur


Lying on my bed

Lying on my bed
I see your face reflected on the wall
Your shadowless body that frightens mine
Your clocked and frenetic coming and going
Your scowl from which every piece of furniture flees
Except for the bed anchored by my sweat of lies
And me who waits with neither blankets nor hope
for angst.


Couchée sur mon lit

Couchée sur mon lit
Je vois ton visage reflété sur le mur
Ton corps sans ombre qui fait peur au mien
Tes allées et venues frénétiques et cadencées
Tes grimaces qui font fuir tous les meubles de la pièce
Sauf le lit ancré par ma sueur de mensonges
Et moi qui attends sans couverture ni espoir


Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems

“[A woman created the sun]” and “[Lying on my bed]” from Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1953, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1967, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1991, 2014, 2023 by Cyrille Mansour for the Estate of Joyce Mansour. Translations and Introduction copyright © 2023 by Emilie Moorhouse. Reprinted with the
permission of City Lights Books.

Joyce Mansour
Joyce Mansour
Joyce Mansour was born in England in 1928 to a Jewish family of Syrian descent, who moved to Egypt when she was still an infant. She grew up among the English-speaking elite of Egypt. She learned to speak and write in French when she married her second husband, a Francophone Egyptian, and was exiled to Paris when Nasser came to power. Mansour was part of the inner circle of Surrealists, a close friend of André Breton and the most significant poet to join the group after World War II. She wrote sixteen books of poetry, as well as prose works and plays. She lived in Paris, France until her death in 1986 at age of 58.

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