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Wine

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The flowers I planted along my road
Have lasted long despite winds and cold
Already fiery noons begin to burn
Slyly the secret of the roots
And I know that of my footsteps nothing will remain
But a trace a cluster a drop
To recall along the paths I’ve chosen
Those evening when the light sang
In eyes hands hearts and goblets.   
 
I love the sweet harshness on the tongue
Filling the palate with a promised saliva
Knocking the mute keyboard of the teeth
With raised draperies of which one might say
That memory retains a fleeting trail of them
Half-glimpsed we won’t know how or else
The loud reminder of the single moment
All gravity banished the unconscious pleasure recaptured
Of being nothing but entirely animal.   
 
For our life closed on that iridescent sphere
—Color taste perfume at their extreme limits—invokes   
Some miracle independent of its origin
Produced by distilling air and earth—
Like the move toward technological planets
After a calculation made on the fingers of one hand—
Time contained flowing—continual autumn
This evening this wine that enters me to make
My head light my tongue loose my cock happy.

“Wine” from The Landscapist: Selected Poems by Pierre Martory, translated by John Ashbery. English translation copyright 1961, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008 by John Ashbery. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of John Ashbery. All rights reserved.
Source: The Landscapist (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 1993 issue of Poetry magazine

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Wine

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  • French poet Pierre Martory was born in Bayonne, France, grew up in Morocco, and attended the School of Political Science in Paris. He fled Paris before the Germans arrived and served in the French Army in Morocco during World War II. After the war, he worked as a drama and music critic for Paris-Match and published a novel, Phébus ou le beau marriage (1953). In 1956, he met the poet John Ashbery in Paris; he and Ashbery lived together for nine years, and Ashbery eventually became his English translator.

    His collections of poetry include Every Question but One (1990), The Landscape Is Behind the Door (1994), Veilleur de jours (1997), and the posthumous Oh, Lac / Oh, Lake (2008) and The Landscapist: Selected Poems (2008). Martory’s poetry is often associative and surreal, sharing some similarities with the work of Ashbery. Mark Ford, reviewing The Landscapist in the Times Literary Supplement, described...

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