Monday, April 14, 2008

Lascaux, cave painting
(complete text)
I. Dead Bird-man and Dying Bison
Thin body that had imperious enthusiasm,
Now perpendicular to the wounded Brute.
O killed without any pity!
Killed by what was all and, reconciled, is dying;
He, the abyss sancer, spirit, yet to be born,
Bird and perverse fruit of magics, cruelly saved.
II. The Black Stag
The waters spoke on into the sky's ear.
Stag, you and you and you have crossed millennia, the space
From rock darkness to the air's caresses.
The hunter driving you, the genius seeking you --
How, from my broad shore, I love their passions!
And if their eyes were mine, at the instant when I hope?
III. The Beast Not To Be Named
The beast not to be named closes the march of the dainty
- - herd, like a comic Cyclops.
Eight jibes make up her finery, share out her folly.
The beast belches a prayer into the country air.
Her stuffed and sagging flanks are hurting, will
- - soon rid themselves of their bigness.
From her hooves to her vain tusks she is muffled in stench.
This is how, in the Lascaux frieze, to me appears,
- - mother in fantastical disguise,
Wisdom with her eyes full of tears.
René Char (France, 1907-1988)
Poems of René Char
translated and annnoted,
Mary Ann Claws and Jonathan Griffin
Princeton, 1976, Princeton University Press

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