A Prayer To Go To Paradise With The Donkeys

Francis Jammes was  a French poet.  He spent most of his life in his native region of Béarn  and the Basque Country and his poems are known for singing the  pleasures of a humble country life .

His later poetry  included a strong religious element brought on by his conversion to Catholicism.

I love this poem and posted it last year, but this time I have added photos of donkeys taken in Fez, Morocco, which we visited earlier this year. 

The poor creatures are really worked so hard. ( The last two photos are not mine.) 

Sorry about the awful layout here but try as I might the text and photos kept coming out all skewed up.

When I must come to you, O my God, I pray

It be some dusty-roaded holiday,

And even as in my travels here below,

I beg to choose by what road I shall go

To Paradise, where the clear stars shine by day.

I’ll take my walking-stick and go my way,

And to my friends the donkeys I shall say,

“I am Francis Jammes, and I’m going to Paradise, 

 For there is no hell in the land of the loving God.”

 And I’ll say to them: “Come, sweet friends of the blue skies,

 Poor creatures who with a flap of the ears or a nod

 Of the head shake off the buffets, the bees, the flies ...” 


     Let me come with these donkeys, Lord,
    into your land,

  These beasts who bow their heads so gently, and stand

   With their small feet joined together in a fashion

    Utterly gentle, asking your compassion.

   I shall arrive, followed by their thousands of ears,

   Followed by those with baskets at their flanks,


   By those who lug the carts of mountebanks

   Or loads of feather-dusters and kitchen-wares,

By those with humps of battered water-cans, 

  By bottle-shaped she-asses who halt and stumble,


   By those tricked out in little pantaloons

   To cover their wet, blue galls where flies assemble

  In whirling swarms, making a drunken hum.

  Dear God, let it be with these donkeys that I come,


And let it be that angels lead us in peace

To leafy streams where cherries tremble in air,

Sleek as the laughing flesh of girls;

and there in that haven of souls let it be that, leaning above

Your divine waters, I shall resemble these donkeys,

Whose humble and sweet poverty will appear

Clear in the clearness of your eternal love.

Translated by Richard  Wilbur


No comments: