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Three Children Near a Road Sign — Tadeusz Makowski (1882–1932) — public domain

pried loose by rain and wind the signpost at the crossroads whirls and whirls a drunken dervish a giddy weathervane the destinations on its arrows an endless reel of letters garbled pointing everywhere and nowhere turned turnstile to another world lost in divination so toss the coin roll the dice let chance be choice and true to change you’ll realise all learning’s done along the road and not upon arrival

During some of my recent reading, I revisited one of my favourite French poets, Paul Valéry (1871–1945), and came across this fabulous line of his:

“Le fond de la pensée est pavé de carrefours.”

As far as I’ve been able to research, this has always been translated into English as:

“The bottom of the mind is paved with crossroads.”

And I’m not quite happy with this translation. First, translating “fond” as “bottom” sounds quite vulgar and base, failing the sense of “depth” which the French original implies. Second, “la pensée” in French connotates a much wider and pro-active concept than the English word “mind”.

Here’s my translation of Paul Valéry’s words, which inspired my poem:

“The depths of thought are paved with crossroads.”

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