Jules Supervielle – The Fish

Supervielle 2

Jules Supervielle (1884-1960) was born into a French-Basque family living in Uruguay. Aged ten, he was sent to Paris, where he completed his education at the Sorbonne. For the rest of his life, he divided his time between Uruguay and France. He was friends with André Gide, Paul Valéry and Jacques Rivière, and in 1923, he met the Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, a crucial influence on his later work. 


The fish

Memory of fish in deep coves,
What can I do here with your slow memories,
I know nothing about you except a little foam and shade
And that one day, like me, you’ll have to die.

So why do you come to question my dreams
As if I could be of help to you?
Go out to sea, leave me on my dry land,
We weren’t made to share our days.

Jules Supervielle
(translation by John Lyons)

Les poissons

Mémoire des poissons dans les criques profondes,
Que puis-je faire ici de vos lents souvenirs,
Je ne sais rien de vous qu’un peu d’écume et d’ombre
Et qu’un jour, comme moi, il vous faudra mourir.

Alors que venez-vous interroger mes rêves
Comme si je pouvais vous être de secours?
Allez en mer, laissez-moi sur ma terre sèche,
Nous ne sommes pas faits pour mélanger nos jours.

See also I dream you from afar.


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