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This poem is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

Three Poems (translated by Marilyn Hacker) Jean-Paul de Dadelsen

The Great Ledger

They'll tell you that sunshine will follow the rain; they'll tell you
That a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
   Don't believe it.
It is good that after the rain comes the deluge; it is excellent
That a bird in the hand brings two wolves out of the bushes; it is necessary
That for not having gone often enough to the well
   The pitcher be broken.


Erase and start again. They'll tell you that after two 9s there's often a
36 And that last summer at Evian zero came up three times in a row.
   It's true
A colonel who'd gone to the Ecole Polytechnique played the limit three times on zero;
Five hundred thousand francs; thank you from the employees, thank you sir from
The accountants of the great ledger where your military service record has always
   Been noted down.

Campaigns under Charles known as the Wise, under Pyrrhus, under Ramses II,
Under Hamurabi; nine wounds; two dead on the scaffold;
...


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