un crachat d'estaminet


New Member
United States - English
Can someone help me translate what this phrase means, please? It comes from a larger quote in a C.S. Lewis poem, which goes

I am so coarse, the things the poets see
Are obstinately invisible to me.
For twenty years I've stared my level best
To see if evening--any evening--would suggest
A patient etherized upon a table;
In vain. I simply wasn't able.
To me each evening looked far more
LIke the departure from a silent, yet a crowded, shore
Of a ship whose freight was everything, leaving behind
Gracefully, finally, without farewells, marooned mankind.

Red dawn behind a hedgerow in the east
Never, for me, resembled in the least
A chilblain on a cocktail-shaker's nose;
Waterfalls don't remind me of torn underclothes,
Nor glaciers of tin-cans. I've never known
The moon look like a hump-backed crone--
Rather, a prodigy, even now
Not naturalized, a riddle glaring from the Cyclops' brow
Of the cold world, reminding me on what a place
I crawl and cling, a planet with no bulwarks, out in space.

Never the white sun of the wintriest day
Struck me as un crachat d'estaminet.

I'm like that odd man Wordsworth knew, to whom
A primrose was a yellow primrose, one whose doom
Keeps him forever in the list of dunces,
Compelled to live on stock responses,
Making the poor best that I can
Of dull things . . . peacocks, honey, the Great Wall, Aldebaran,
Silver weirs, new-cut grass, wave on the beach, hard gem,
The shapes of horse and woman, Athens, Troy, Jerusalem.

Thanks in advance for any help. :)
  • 'crachat d'estaminet' refers to a poem by jules laforgue, a french 'symbolist'. here is the beginning of the poem

    L'hiver qui vient

    Blocus sentimental! Messageries du Levant!...
    Oh, tombée de la pluie! Oh! tombée de la nuit,
    Oh! le vent!...

    La Toussaint, la Noël et la Nouvelle Année,
    Oh, dans les bruines, toutes mes cheminées!...

    On ne peut plus s'asseoir, tous les bancs sont mouillés;
    Crois-moi, c'est bien fini jusqu'à l'année prochaine,
    Tant les bancs sont mouillés, tant les bois sont rouillés,
    Et tant les cors ont fait ton ton, ont fait ton taine!...

    Ah, nuées accourues des côtes de la Manche,
    Vous nous avez gâté notre dernier dimanche.
    Il bruine;
    Dans la forêt mouillée, les toiles d'araignées
    Ploient sous les gouttes d'eau, et c'est leur ruine.

    Soleils plénipotentiaires des travaux en blonds Pactoles
    Des spectacles agricoles,
    Où êtes-vous ensevelis?
    Ce soir un soleil fichu gît au haut du coteau
    Git sur le flanc, dans les genêts, sur son manteau,
    Un soleil blanc comme un crachat d'estaminet
    Sur une litière de jaunes genêts
    De jaunes genêts d'automne.
    Et les cors lui sonnent!
    Qu'il revienne...
    Qu'il revienne à lui!
    Taïaut! Taîaut! et hallali!
    Ô triste antienne, as-tu fini!...
    Et font les fous!...
    Et il gît là, comme une glande arrachée dans un cou,
    Et il frissonne, sans personne!...

    as for what it means, poetry is difficult to translate. un estaminet is an slightly obsolete word for 'bar, café'. as for what spitting has to do with it, i'm clueless.

    let's wait for the higher powers of this forum ...
    In Laforgue's poem, "un crachat d'estaminet" is here to say that the nice sun of the summer is dying, and becomes more pale white than bright yellow. White as a spitting. And in other verses he uses terms reffering to illlness. The sun is ill, glutinous ("crachat"). The word "estaminet" is here, because as fetchez say it's a "bar" but for poor people, people of the working-class.
    The winter sun is seen as something quite disgusting.
    As Sev says, "estaminet" is a poor bar. In the past (and present in some places!) it was common to spit in bars (due at least in part to chewing tobacco). Some places would have spittoons the poorer ones just sawdust on the floor. In the UK we still indicate that a bar is rough by saying it's "a bit spit and sawdust". At least they do where I come from!