Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yves Bonnefoy, Du mouvement et de l'immobilité de Douve (1953)

Du mouvement et de l'immobilité de Douve (1953)
On the Motion and Immobility of Douve (1953)

Vrai Nom

Je nommerai désert ce château que tu fus,
Nuit cette voix, absence ton visage,
Et quand tu tomberas dans la terre stérile
Je nommerai néant l’éclair qui t’a porté.

Mourir est un pays que tu aimais. Je viens
Mais éternellement par tes sombres chemins.
Je détruis ton désir, ta forme, ta mémoire,
Je suis ton ennemi qui n’aura de pitié.

Je te nommerai guerre et je prendrai
Sur toi les libertés de la guerre et j’aurai
Dans mes mains ton visage obscur et traversé,
Dans mon cœur ce pays qu’illumine l’orage.

I will name wilderness the castle which you were
Night your voice, absence your face,
And when you fall back into sterile earth
I will name nothingness the lighting which bore you.

Dying is a country which you loved. I appoarch
Along your dark ways, but eternally.
I destroy your desire, your form, your trace in me,
I am your enemy who will show no mercy.

I will name you war and I will take
With you the liberties of war, and I will have
In my hands your dark-crossed face,
In my heart this land which the storm lights.

If it is to appear, the deep light needs
A ravaged soil cracking with night.
It is from the dark wood that the flame will leap.
Speech itself needs such substance,
A lifeless shore beyond all singing.

You will have to go through death to live,
The purest presence is blood which is shed.


The bird will soar to meet our heads,
A shoulder of blood will be lifted for him.
He will fold his joyful wings on the peak
Of this tree your body will offer him.

He will sing a long time fading into the branches,
Darkness will erase the boundaries of his cry.
Refusing any death hinted by the branches
He will dare to pass the summits of the night.

This opened stone it is you, this wrecked house,
How can one die?

I brought light, I looked,
Everywhere blood reigned.
And I cried, I wept with my whole body.

True Body

The mouth shut tight, the face washed,
The body purified, that shining fate
Buried in the earth of words,
And the humblest marriage is consummated.

Silenced that voice which shouted in my face
That we were wild and separated,
Walled up those eyes: and I hold Douve dead
In the rasping self locked with me again.

And however great the coldness rising from you,
However searing the ice of our embrace
Douve, I do speak in you; and I clasp you
In the act of knowing and of naming.

A Voice

Remember the island where they build the fire
Out of every olive tree thriving on the slopes,
In order that night should arch higher and at dawn
The only wind be that of sterility.
So many charred roads will make up a kingdom
Where the pride we once knew can reign again,
For nothing can swell an eternal force
But an eternal flame and the ruin of everything.
For myself I will go back to that earth of ashes,
I will lay down my heart on its ravaged body.
Am I not your life in its deepest alarms,
Whose only monument is the Phoenix's pyre?

When the salamander reappeared, the sun
Was already very low on every land,
The flagstones took on beauty from this radiant body.

And already he had cut that last
Bond which is the heart reached in darkness.

Thus, rock y landscape, his wound opened
A ravine to die in, under a motionless sky.
Still turned toward the windows, his face
Lighted with those old trees where he could die.

Cassandra, he will say, hands empty and painted,
Gaze drawn up from lower than any gaze of love,
Take in your hands, save in their embrace
This head now dead where time is ruins.

The Idea grows in me that I am pure and live
In the high house from which I had fled.
Oh that all be simple on the shores where I die
Press in to my fingers the book, the obulus.

Smooth me, anoint me. Dye my absence.
Shut down these eyes not acknowledging night.
Bed me in folds of a lasting silence,
Put out with the lamp a land of oblivion.


But you, but the desert! Spread lower
Your gloomy folds of sand.
Wind into this heart so that it will not stop
Your silence like a legendary cause.

Come. Here a thought breaks off,
Here a beautiful country runs out of roads.
Move out on the rim of that frozen dawn
Which yields as your due a hostile sun.

And sing. You mourn twice over what you mourn
If you dare to sing, denying night.
Smile, and sing. He needs your presence,
Dark light, on the waters of what he was.

Place of Battle


Here the knight of mourning is defeated.
As he guarded a spring, so now
I awaken, by the grace of trees
Amid the noise of waters, dream renewing itself.

He says nothing. His is the face I look for
At every spring and cliffside, dead brother.
Face of a vanquished night bending
Over the daybreak of the torn shoulder.

He says nothing. What could he say now the battle is over,
He who was beaten by a word of truth?
He turns his helpless face to the ground,
To die is his one cry, of true repose.


But does he weep over a deeper
Spring and does he flower, dahlia of the dead,
At the gates of November's muddy waters
Which bear to us the sound of the dead world?

It seems, as I bend to the arduous dawn
Of this day which is owed me and which I won back,
That I hear sobbing the eternal presence
Of my secret demon who was never buried.

You shall surge up, shore of my strength!
But may it be despite this daylight leading me.
Shadows, you are no more. If the dark must be reborn
It will be in the night and by the night.

Day breaks over the evening, it shall sweep beyond
The daily night.
O our strength and our glory, will you be able
To Peirce the rampart of the dead?

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