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Or as though hope had already withdrawn from the world.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

 

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.

Nocturne in broad daylight

Jules Supervielle
Jules Supervielle

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 poem below is a fragment from La fable du monde, published in 1938. See also “I dream you from afar.”

Nocturne in broad daylight

The slowness around me
Casts its net over the furniture
Imprisoning the light
And familiar objects.
And Time, its legs crossed,
Looks me in the eye
And sometimes it stands up
To examine me a little closer,
Then it goes back to its place
Like a satisfied prince.
And here in my whole body
The Feeling of Life,
Red and white ants
Composing a human being.
And Space revolves around me
In which everyone finds their place
From the high stars
To those who observe them.
And every day that I endure
Under my shadowy thoughts
I live among these figures
Layered around me
Like between Pyramids.

Jules Supervielle

(translated by John Lyons)


Nocturne en plein jour

La Lenteur autour de moi
Met son filet sur les meubles
Emprisonnant la lumière
Et les objets familiers.
Et le Temps, jambes croisées,
Me regarde dans les yeux
Et quelquefois il se dresse
Pour me voir d’un peu plus près,
Puis il retourne à sa place
Comme un prince satisfait.
Et voici dans tout mon corps
Le Sentiment de la Vie,
Blanches et rouges fourmis
Composant un être humain.
Et l’Espace tourne autour de moi
Où chacun trouve sa place
Depuis les hautes étoiles
Jusqu’à ceux qui les regardent.
Et chaque jour que j’endure
Sous mes ombreuses pensées
Je vis parmi ces figures
Comme entre des Pyramides
Autour de moi étagées.

I dream you from afar – Jules Supervielle

supervielleJules 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 poem below is from Oublieuse mémoire, published in 1949.


I dream you from afar

I dream you from afar, and, close by, it’s all the same,
But always you remain precise, without response,
Under my calm eyes you become music,
As with the glance, I catch you by ear.

You know how to be in me as though before my eyes,
So much your heart is tendered, melodious,
And I hear you pounding at my secret temples
As you flow into me and so disappear.

Translation by John Lyons

Je vous rêve de loin

Je vous rêve de loin, et, de près, c’est pareil,
Mais toujours vous restez précise, sans réplique,
Sous mes tranquilles yeux vous devenez musique,
Comme par le regard, je vous vois par l’oreille.

Vous savez être en moi comme devant mes yeux,
Tant vous avez le cœur offert, mélodieux,
Et je vous entend battre à mes tempes secrètes
Lorsque vous vous coulez en moi pour disparaître.