Stella Maris, As They Say

“Stella Maris, As They Say” by Max Jacob
Nouvelle Revue Française, July 1934

The ocean colors my days: in love: my days!
But look, the ocean fades. Ah! May the evening breeze
bring boats! They’ll come out, they’ll consent,
the golden puppets after an accident.
I await whatever the horizon sends
to the leaden statue of my indifference.
O sea like varnish layer upon layer
O sea do you shake your delirious scales
for old hopes, disappointed, bringing ill?
Your turrets of foam above the rocks
announce the news with still more shocks
ghost of friends lost in death or fates
Oh well-loved days, turned, forever past.
Page after page! After each turning trace
the map? an ace? alas! the page! the beach, the place…
I wait to see what hero I might be
(you’ll still be waiting for him when he comes)
I wait to love my God as I love men’s limbs
I wait to love you more than the earth,
Jesus, Adam, and You, Mother of sacred birth.

 

Max Jacob: Stella Maris, Comme L’on Dit

La mer colore mes jours : l’amour !
Mais quoi, la mer se fane. Ah ! que le vent du soir
apporte des bateaux ! Sortira, sortiront
des marionnettes d’or après un accident.
J’attends ce qui pourrait venir de l’horizon
vers la statue de plomb de mon indifférence
o mer comme un vernis sur un autre vernis
o mer agitez-vous des plaques déchaînées
pour les anciens espoirs déçus nuisibles ?
Au-dessus des rochers vos tourelles
d’écume m’annoncent des nouvelles
le spectre des amis passés ou trépassés
O jours aimés, tournés, ce qui ne revient plus.
La page après la page ! Après chaque virage
la carte ? un as ? hélas ! la page ! la plage. . .
J’attends d’apercevoir le héros que je sois
(quand il aura passé vous l’attendrez encore)
J’attends d’aimer mon Dieu comme j’aime les corps
J’attends de vous aimer plus que la terre,
Jésus, l’Adam et Toi la Mère.

Permission to republish “Stella Maris” was granted by Sylvia Lorant Colle, executor of Max Jacob’s estate.

 

Max Jacob was a radical French Modernist poet, a Jewish convert to Roman Catholicism. He died in the Nazi camp at Drancy in 1944.

Rosanna Warren

Rosanna Warren

Rosanna Warren teaches in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her most recent book of poems are Ghost in a Red Hat (Norton, 2011) and Earth Works: Selected Poems (American Philosophical Society Press, 2016). 
Rosanna Warren

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Author: Rosanna Warren

Rosanna Warren teaches in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her most recent book of poems are Ghost in a Red Hat (Norton, 2011) and Earth Works: Selected Poems (American Philosophical Society Press, 2016).