[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]
Here is a literal translation of Louise Michel’s “Les Corbeaux”, from Before the Commune, a posthumous collection of poems published in 1905.
Up there, on the fir trees, are some soft birds’ nests;
In the dark trees the are black crows.
From Germany to the Ukraine,
They open their wings to the wind;
And they fly, casting over the plains
Their raucous rattle of their voices.
For them the harvest is superb;
The dead are there, sown in the grass,
O black bird, like wheat.
Go, and from eyes full of shadow,
As if from cups, drink;
Go on, crows, go without number,
You will all be refreshed;
Then, taking wing again
Carry the new flesh to the nest;
Your sweet little ones are starving.
Go on, crows, take without fear
These awful and sacred scraps;
No one will complain against you;
You are pure, O black birds.
Go to the peoples in slavery,
Go, sowing the blood of the brave,
That it may geminate for the new times!
Up there, in the fir trees, are some soft birds’ nests;
In the dark trees there are black crows.