Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 14 • Summer 2005 • Featured Lodestar Writer • Poetry

My People's Early Rising

Jean Sénac,
translated from the French by David Bergman and Katia Sainson

For Baya

You were saying easy things;
the hard-working woman of the morning
the forest that grew in your voice
its trees so thick that they tear hearts apart
and know the full weight of song
the warmth of a clearing
for the up-right man who demands
a word of peace
a word of human proportions

You pulled the stalker from his solitude
who steeped in shadows kept you in his sight
the one who wants to write the way you see
the way you sing, the way you weave
and bring the others wheat
goat's milk
flour coarsely ground
and thick in the heart and strong in the blood
the kindness of everyone
and the impetuous charm of men in solidarity.

Speak oh tranquil flower weaver of hope
prelude to the barley's certain awakening
say that soon steel will reject the throat
that soon the douar will deal a blow to the night
You will teach me to think
to live as you live
Torn from the dark abode, your early rising

Algiers, 1949

Jean Sénac was a teacher, soldier, and writer. He was the author of numerous collections of poems, including Citoyens de beautÚ and Jubilation, and one novel, Ébauche du père: pour en finir avec l'enfance. Following the Algerian revolution, he worked in the Ministry of Education in Algeria and for Radio-Algiers with a daily program, PoÚsie sur tous les fronts. He was the founder of the magazines Soleil, Terrasses, and cofounder of Galery 54. He was murdered, possibly because of his political beliefs, in August 1973 in Algiers. More information (in French): French Wikipedia: Jean Sénac.

David Bergman is a professor of English at Towson State University, the author of Gaiety Transfigured: Gay Representation in American Literature, and the editor of Camp Grounds: Style and Homosexuality. Bergman has published poetry in The Paris Review, The New Criterion, and The New Republic. He has edited a collection of Edmund White's essays entitled The Burning Library. His latest book is The Violet Hour: The Violet Quill and the Making of Gay Culture (Columbia University Press, 2004). He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

David Bergman and Katia Sainson are preparing an edition of Jean Sénac's Selected Poems. They teach at Towson University.

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