Timothy Adès

by Francis Combes
Down in the south of France, a quiet place,
a village in Provence: a lane called Hell.
Behind a hollyhock-encrusted wall,
a garden hides a hint of Paradise.
Books and a cat and friends who sit and dine,
as conversation whiles away the hours
of the sweet evening: trellis, fruit and flowers.
Darkly intense, three or four glow-worms shine…
Here Paradise and Hell are side by side
(as ever: was it Aragon who said
Only religions keep them from each other?)
But goodness! On this earth they go together…
A plague of jellyfish is headline news.
For the bar’s regulars, fresh coffee’s made.
Doing the Lottery: would that amuse?
The plane-trees make a mix of light and shade.
For you! that sweet red paper heart I found
close to the junk-shop, lying on the ground.
Love, let’s not, for ourselves or otherwise,
confuse nostalgia with paradise.

Translated by Timothy Adès.
Published in Agenda, 2019.

Poetry Atlas has many other poems about France.

Main Location:

04230 Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues, France

Other locations:

The plane trees of St Etienne-les-Orgues in Provence

Creative Commons image by Tom Coady.