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This item is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

Letters
Walter Bruno writes A response to Charlie Louth’s invigorating take (PNR 262, p. 38) on Mahon’s translation of ‘The Gypsies’ (a traditional spelling I tend to use). The Mahon translation is fairly broad, broader than Louth suggests. ‘La nation’ in continental French is the French nation itself, not ‘nations’ as the translation posits. It’s ‘the people’. This is clearly to demark the non-French Roma from their hosts; which makes it harder to agree with Louth’s assertion, that Gypsies are ‘not the subject’ of the poem, notwithstanding the transferences which Louth very adroitly discusses. Still, an open fire is the eternal sign of hunter-forager ‘encampment’ and Paris settlement is the classical rebuke of that, a place of fire prohibitions; and that seems essential. Indeed, this poem is almost entirely about transience, versus a curfewed and settled town. The ‘fear’ expressed in the poem’s end is the fear of Roma extinctions, and the ‘light’ is metaphor for their endurance.

It’s useful to note that, too, that reference to Robinson in ‘La Voix’, removed by Mahon, is targeted and precise. Robinson is a terminal rail point, and a suburban sign in Parisian parlance. Finally, here’s my own ad-hoc translation of Les Gitans:
There is a fire under the trees;
we hear it speak low
to the sleeping people,
we, near the gates.
If we go silently, we
short-lived souls,
between the shrouded flats,
it is only in fear that you
die out, you eternal
crackle of hidden light.

This item is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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