Max Jacob: Poem in a Mode that Isn’t Mine
— to you, Rimbaud
My horse tripped over the semiquavers! The notes splatter up to the green sky of my soul: the eighth sky!
Apollo was a doctor and me I’m a pianist of the heart, if not in fact. It would be necessary, with the flats and all the bars, to unload the scribbled steamers, to collect the tiny battle flags to compose some canticles.
The minuscule, it’s huge! Whoever conceived Napoleon as an insect between two branches of a tree, who painted him a nose too large in watercolor, who rendered his court with shades too tender, wasn’t he greater than Napoleon himself, o Ataman Prajapati!
The minuscule, it’s the note!
Man bears upon himself photographs of his ancestors like Napoleon bore God, o Spinoza! Me, my ancestors, these are the notes of harps. God had conceived St. Helena and the sea between two branches of a tree. My black horse has a good eye, though albino, but he tripped on the harp notes.
(Translation by Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney)