In this big house that nobody knows

In this big house that nobody knows

In this big house that nobody knows
With its façade, its walls caught
Between stone and human existence,
With the air that envelops it and always about to pulsate
With its secret life that makes a window rattle
Or rather showers it with tears,
In this big house a lamp shines day and night
It shines for no one
As though the Earth were uninhabited
Or as though hope had already withdrawn from the world.
And when I attempt to dash to catch the light
My legs go awry beneath me
And for an instant my heart
glimpses glacial eternity.

But perhaps one day the lamp
Constrained to move as when ice melts
Will spontaneously approach me to shine and reveal
Its colour to my soul
Its ardour to my spirit
And their true shape.

Meanwhile I must live without glooming about such gloom.
What’s called noise elsewhere
Is nothing but silence here,
What’s called movement
Is a heart’s patience,
What’s called truth
A man chained to his body,
And what we call tenderness
Ah! what would you have it be?

Jules Supervielle

Translation by John Lyons



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