Joyce Mansour

4 July, 2023,

Joyce Mansour

Translated by Emilie Moorhouse



Two poems by Joyce Mansour, translated by Emilie Moorhouse, from the City Lights volume, Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems. English translations follow the French originals.


Séance Tenante
Pour S.

Tout ceci parce que j’aime faire l’amour sous l’eau
Pommader mes cheveux de brouillard et de bile
Et me laisser aller au fond du canapé
Avec un palefrenier bossu Et un doigt de vagabondage
Tout ceci parce que tu sais que j’étais voleuse autrefois


Right Away
For S.

All of this because I like to make love underwater
Smearing my hair with fog and bile
And let myself go in the depths of the couch
With a hunched stable boy
And a roaming finger
All this because you know I was once a thief


L’Appel amer d’un sanglot

Venez femmes aux seins fébriles
Écouter en silence le cri de la vipère
Et sonder avec moi le bas brouillard roux
Qui enfle soudain la voix de l’ami
La rivière est fraîche autour de son corps
Sa chemise flotte blanche comme la fin d’un discours
Dans l’air substantiel avare de coquillages
Inclinez-vous filles intempestives
Abandonnez vos pensées à capuchon
Vos sottes mouillures vos bottines rapides
Un remous s’est produit dans la végétation
Et l’homme s’est noyé dans la liqueur

The Bitter Call of Tears

Come women with feverish breasts
Listen in silence to the viper’s scream
And probe with me the low red fog
That suddenly swells the voice of the friend
The river is cool around his body
His white shirt floating like the end of a speech
In the expansive air emptied of seashells
Take a bow untimely ladies
Forget your hooded thoughts
Your foolish moistness your quick booties
An eddy took shape in the plants
And man drowned himself in liquor


Joyce Mansour (author) was born in England in 1928 to a Jewish family of Syrian descent who moved to Egypt when she was still an infant. Mansour was part of the inner circle of Surrealists, a close friend of André Breton, and the most significant poet to join the group after World War II. She wrote 16 books of poetry, as well as prose, works, and plays. She lived in Paris, France until her death in 1986 at age of 58.

Emilie Moorhouse (translator & co-editor) holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. Raised in a French-speaking household in Toronto, Canada, she now lives in Montreal where she works as a teacher, writer, translator, and environmentalist.

Egyptian poetJoyce MansoursurrealistsSyrian poetTranslation

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