Translated: One of the Important Poems of Our Era: “Adam” by Delaveau

Here is a translation of “Adam” by Delaveau (translated by me, Webster Young, Founder) . I have shown it to the poet and we are still considering it. If any of our French speaking members would like to comment on any points, please do! it may help…

(from  Instants d’eternite faillible , Editions Gallimard, 2004)



Philippe Delaveau   


And the peace that stirs our foliage in the evening air

inspires a trust in these visited places…

no more an infinity blank for dreams – or their strange gods –

but here in the happy interval between waters that drop sedately

to the earth that gathers them, and the sweetness of day,


We have received for a dwelling the fleeting present –

this fragile home one divines in the grass and the dew,

in the trees that are always one species or form…


Just so the world had prospered Adam on the first day

of your peregrination among things,

when, eyes raised and feet planted on the ground,

you breathed in this color of peace –

which knows all the perfumes and usages of silence –

and you heard the movement of Elohim

invisible and visible within His order inconceivable.


(English translation by Webster Young)


ADAM  (original French version)


Et la paix qui frole nos feuillages dans l’air du soir

m’inspire une confiance pour ces lieux visites

non plus l’infini blanc du reve ou ses dieux etranges

mais ici dans l’intervalle heureux de l’eau qui goutte posement

la terre qui la recueille et la douceur du jour


Nous avons recu pour l’habiter le present fugace

cette maison fragile qu’on devine dans l’herbe et la rosee

les arbres qui sont chaque fois de meme espece et de forme unique


Comme le monde etait prospere Adam au premier jour

de ta peregrination parmi les choses

lorsque les yeux leves et les pieds etablis dans la terre

tu respirais cette couleur de paix

qui connait tous les parfums et l’emploi du silence

et tu entendais le mouvement d”Elohim

invisible et visible selon son ordre inconcevable


Philippe Delaveau

One comment

  1. Dialogue on this post from Restore the Arts at Facebook:

    Isabelle Balot

    Overall quite a good translation with a few things to amend: “inspires me to trust”. Also, “rosée” does not translate as “rose” but as “dew”.

    Webster Young

    Thank you…I will change rosee to dew. I would like to post your suggestions below the blog itself. It might be interesting for people. to see thoughts on this. Regarding “inspires” etc , I thought French reflexive verbs did not have to include the pronoun in English, for example “il me semble que” = “it seems that” The pronoun is taken for granted. Am I wrong …Also “inspires me to trust” adds a metric foot to the line…

    Isabelle Balot

    It depends whether you wish to stress the intensity of personal feelings or not. In French, there is an obvious difference in meaning between “il semble” and “il me semble”. You may wish to keep your translation as is (except for “rosée”) as the meaning of the poem will not be essentially altered. This way also, the metrics will be preserved.

    Liked by 1 person

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