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Bodies and souls – Robert Paquin

Montreal poet, raised between two railways and a shipping canal, Robert “publish” his poems by offering them to pretty women and to his friends. Robert has also written and directed a blues record and video-poems which were screened at festivals in Europe, Asia and America. Under the pseudonym “Robert Paquin, Ph. D.” he taught at various universities in addition to indulging in literary translation and film translation / adaptation.


Bodies and souls

(Quartet of quatrains No. 31)

For André Desjardins


A face or a body I seek,

Of angel-, man- or womankind,

With both eyes closed and gaze asleep,

Turned toward the secrets of the mind.


I seek a body or a face

Smiling with open lips and eyes,

Woman or man, in that sweet grace

Shared by the blissful and the wise.

A face, a body and a soul

Seek with closed eyes and open hands.

On skin exposed, beyond control,

Harsh colors splash in stains and bands.

Bodies and souls are born to light;

Bodies are sculpted into stone;

Souls slip away to endless night;

Two hands in prayer are clasped as one.


© Robert 2008

Translation: Sharon Neeman


Robert Paquin wrote this poem inspired by the paintings of André Desjardins. Jerome Langlois, has subsequently set it to music. Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto) interprets this song in a short film that the author wrote and directed with the help of ACIC program of the NFB.

The same film was shown at film festivals:

  • Official selection at the I’ve Seen Films Festival in Milan in October 2010
  • Official Selection of the Toronto Independent Film Festival in Toronto in September 2011.

Robert told us: “The contralto voice could be that of a man or a woman. The poem is designed to never identify the “I” as a man or a woman. You never know if that man or woman speaks to another man or another woman. This ambiguity emphasizes that androgynous faces of the artist’s paintings. 


Credit Photo: Geralt / Pixabay

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