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This poem is taken from PN Review 216, Volume 40 Number 4, March - April 2014.

‘The Orchards of Timbuctou’ and Other Poems
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
Jean-Paul de Dadelsen
Alsatian Suite
In a convenient walnut tree, a stone’s throw from the village
barely awakened from its winter somnolence
a flock of crows has landed, one on each solid branch,
there they are, how many, thirteen, seventeen?
like big black fruit on the bare tree.
Is this the Consistory of the Church of Augsburg,
that stout one there, is he Pastor Schaeffer
with a fat neck, comfortable plumage, who married
a pharmacist’s daughter, or was it a doctor’s?
Is it a committee? Is it a family council, a council of war
against the buzzard always flying solo, and the male
pheasant who stands in the road in his bronze plumage,
standing you’d say on one foot, with his delicate pointed tail.

The Orchards of Timbuctou
Explanatory Note

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