To my friend A. Lionnet
Translation from NER 36.1.
Ocean, Ocean, when your fuming waves
Lift, roaring, making one majestic wave
From foaming heads, rearing up to air,
Appearing to touch the sky with its sublime crest;
We see its peak smoking like a vast
Crater, its huge mass mastering the waters!
The furrows that its volume compresses,
Come in fury to smash themselves at its base;
The wave rises and leaps towards its arrogant
Brow; but this one—see!—like the God of the tempest,
With foam and vapors crowns its crest,
And seems to dominate its furious aspect.
—translated from the French by John Kinsella
Auguste Lacaussade (1815–1897) was born on the French Indian Ocean possession of Bourbon, later named Ile de la Réunion. He published his first volume of poems in 1839, Les Salaziennes, followed by Poèmes et Paysages (1852), and Les Épaves (1861).
John Kinsella’s most recent books include the poetry collection Jam Tree Gully (W. W. Norton, 2012) and the collaborative work Redstart, with Forrest Gander (Iowa University Press, 2012). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.