Landscapes with Angels

Poems from Taizé


Pierre Etienne

Brother of Taizé


translated from the French
Brother Anthony of Taizé

    Les amis essentiels (1974)    5
Springtime    5
After the solstice    6
Ascension    7
Autumn green    8
Autumn sunlight    9
Fault lines    10
Fable    11
Magic spell    12
Journeying on    13
Mists    14
Bird    15
Last vigil    16
    Ciels sans nombre (1981)    17
Ode : Autumn    17
Of mist ants and angels    19
Ode for short days    21
Marine ode    23
Pictures for an inundation    25
Today's Christmas    27
Epiphany    28
The conquering sun    29
Allegory    30
Letter    31
Calendar    32
Dawn    33
Dream and reality    34
Frosty days    35
Trance    37
Peace    38
Missing    39
Instructions for use    40
    Mémoire du silence (1977)    41
Walking    41
Access    42
Psalm    43
Food for the journey    44
To the migrating angel    45
Open letter    46
Words    47
    Approximate sonnets (1989)    48
    Poésie nomade (1978)    69
Telepathy    69
Whiteness    70
Must we    71
Basket    72
Fires    73
Cradle    74
Proverbs back to front    75
Backwards    76
Sketch    78
Essential friends    79
Childhood    80
Farther    81
Challenge    82
Guardian angel    83
Vestiges    84
Boundary    85
The sea that vanished    86
The trees    87
The wind    88
Nights    89
Nocturns    90
Winter    91
Semantics    92
Fable    93
Words    94
Testament    95
Memento    96
The angels    97
Little city suite    98
Pathways    99
The link    100
Bitter river    101
The flood    102
Fourfold    103
On Psalm 95    104
Sentient thought    105
The distant sea    106
Light from the other shore    108
Stranger and pilgrim    109
March of wise men from the west    110
The strength not to hate    111
    Les sentiers du monde (1972)    114
Song    114
Dwellings    115
The keys    116
Autumn river    118
Accommodation    119
Here and elsewhere    120
Peaceful night    121
Catharsis    122
Eye-opener    123
A child    124
Visitation    125
Wisdom    126
Joy    127
Kindness    128
Pater Noster    129
Hope    137
Old world    138

Les amis essentiels (1974)


Terrible springtime had come
too perfumed     too exuberant
wearing clothes too new
The promises of the man on the cross
of life through death
took up an ancient theme
Henceforth every renewal
spreads an aroma of tombs
ceaselessly filtering
deep among the hawthorns

amis 26


After the solstice

The solar year has packed its bags
and soon will take back one by one
the alms it offered our open hands

Autumn will come baying
in the marshes copper-red
in the fields where dry leaves lie

The solar year has resumed the rhythm
of a shorter day with denser moments
yielding sighs, pauses, silences,
to untangle the texture of time

amis 27


Feebly the land floated
in precarious equilibrium
At the moment of May rains
it filled with warm air and lifted
amidst rays from a humid sun.
Vibrations over the hills
made it dance like a hot air balloon

The land played at mirages
none too convinced, but still !
Training began
preparations for the assumption
of its quarries, hedges,
farms, churches,
its meadows and its castles
(those last much heavier to lift)

amis 28

Autumn green

The sun lay lazing like a cat
the autumn green prolonged its rule
none too eager to bring out its collection
of polychrome trimmings

Along the brain's meandering ways
mad thoughts went shooting
Only suppose : if exactly the opposite were true
to all the kill-joy things they say
If happiness were to last for ever
if it were we ourselves who spoil our lives
if we could always start all over again
if winter and the stopping of the heart
were nothing more than nightmares
if just one thing were true : love immarcescible

amis 29


Autumn sunlight

Unhoped-for sunlight
gift of declining days
encounter beyond all expectation
on the pontoon of the wharf

Can this be :     the horrid gag
falls from our lips
the flint of a cry breaks free

All dozing around us
life     reality lie revealed
as evening's sword snatches the sweetness
of the last inclining rays
from the violence of death

amis 30


Fault lines

All the forest paths
delving between brushwood
lead to mystery

The trunks of trees     their moss
mark out the alleys
select the emblems
of the text     to be deciphered
by the captive landscape

The cracks in the ground
the splits in its crust
slip down toward the central fire
gliding between rock and rock
to behold the effervescence
of incandescent chaos

As for our incompleteness :
does it know the nostalgia
of conflagration?
Does it find comfort in the sight
of sterile flashes of lightning crossing?

amis 41



Earth's dream and drift :
the globe in revolution
pursues its destined course
leaving the blood to dry
that seeps from all the wounds
lacerations in its sides
work of strange creatures
intent on mutual battle

The earth is silent     dumb
no complaint trails behind it
the sun pretends to doze

Such incredible anonymity :
the earth's timidity
the sun's indifference

amis 43

Magic spell

If I stamp with my foot on the ground
will the demons emerge
simmering in their cauldrons
the broth of the dead ?

I would rather see a fairy
as in childhood dreams
so pretty in her white veil
skilled in exorcizing
the rancour of rust
the remnants of  resentment

She would take me by the hand
and lead me to triumph
over the hazards of itinerancy

No doubt she would lead me
toward the volcano of vocables
prodigal with projectiles
adorning the summer sky
with festive constellations
in great bouquets of sparks

Sometimes I thought I saw appear
the silhouette and the smile
but always faults gaped open
into which collapsed with no warning
the pathways of our meeting

Yet the shade's fidelity
renews in deepest night
the calcined ardor of the pines
and the needles of light

amis 44


Journeying on

Vast plains   --  It was a morning
rosy and chill, brown-faced men
went walking on, no interest in adventure
just to prove they were human

They journeyed till nightfall
toward some palm tree by a spring
then, the better to dream of a gentle shade,
set off again into the gray desert.

amis 46



This region so placid
has wine running in its veins
it staggers through the fog.
Each village : a ship
rolling in heavy weather
shaking up its cargo
of animals and natives.

So the fleet sails on
rocking amidst vines.
A host of Noah's arches
these villages crouching
at the foot of the main mast of their church.

amis 59



Bird white against a blue background
woven of foam lace
with threads of moonlight
you cover with your shadow
the unheeding fish
as they pass through the waves
and the plants the seaweed
discretely adorned with tenderness

amis 60


Last vigil

When the harpies, the witches
neglect their nooks
when the angels of morning
are still preening their pinions
in the wings of the Orient,

When the earth's rolling motion
settles in the Doldrums
holds the fog curtain
before the sun's horses,

The day seems so remote
that the breath grows slow
then the blood weighs heavier
in the networks of veins.

They will come, intercessors,
genii, tutelary gods,
the pilgrims, the poets,
the porters of the light.

amis 78


Ciels sans nombre (1981)

Ode : Autumn


The tapestry-makers of Aubusson     never
brought alive on their looms
such vibrancy of nuances
nor the weavers of Ispahan
this gentle harmony of hues
washing their work over and over
lest it damage the eyesight


Just a windbreak of poplars
then the village looms     mingling
spires     roofs and façades
in mud-tinged     rust-tinted water
Armadas of leaves denote
the beauty of leaving     colors
there      to attenuate regret


Crossing the night takes longer
as the years increase
not unlike a traveler's insomnia
huddling     in a train without bunks
on a seat upright     Happy later
(dawn's ingenuity once revealed)
to have stayed awake throughout the journey


Might these herds now quenching their thirst
in the Saône be the last to go plodding
along the embankment down to the river
like those in Flemish paintings
Will the current one day flow
between cemented banks     Soon
no more herons     kingfishers     swans


Skies transfigured by the light
that goes slanting far away
Song dynasty celadon blue
a slight crackling in places
outlines of clouds to come
though as yet     truce on high
and in the hearts of passers-by on earth                                     ciels 10

Of mist ants and angels


Children's shouts rend the mist
rise up to us here in the sunshine
Never again will their voices have
that cutting edge of fresh flaked flint

Rending     shout     irradiation
Which should be more admired
mist's stubbornness or sun's


The ants' nest at the foot of a tree
evokes a city's agitation
indifferent to the weather

Why do they never stop
and savor today's sunlight
The ant has far too many cares
transporting its twig to the bitter end


At the very moment when the foliage
the varying tints of rust and old gold
are putting the finishing touches to perfect accord
the work begins to unravel

Once the curtains are drawn
night destroys day's splendor
only renders it up reduced next morning


Angels of mist     amidst the trees
gather with words of civility
their quasi-meteorological mission
being to gently occupy the landscape
along the lines of a micro-climate

They too      uncertain
may vanish from one hour to the next


Further off to south to north or westward
salty mist veils reefs
emphasized by lights     by beacons

Here     even less obvious landmarks
seaweed-brown bushes
stuck into  coral-rocks
impose a higher esteem

ciels 12


Ode for short days


Evening's eye is poised to close
winter and the sky's rough silks
spread glimmers of milky waters
over boxwood bushes tinged copper-red
already their tinkling can be heard
in the warrior wind    Don Quixote
as in our dreams


X-ray of a leafless tree
trachea     bronchial tubes and bronchioles
as in the village school
there used to hang pictures
abstract     natural history
This one still has many springtimes ahead
for the delight of the birds


The whole rainbow lifting the gaze
from off the ground (light downward)
up to the almost purple blue of the zenith
in a suspension of coolness
Everything required to sharpen the longing
to go and look beyond the prism
but the blood's very vigor holds us earthbound


The time when it is important to say
what the other knows already
(though perhaps far off     proud of silence)
but then words must be spoken
that differ from the smoke at forest edges
cartoon texts
bubbles ready to burst


The river again     it brews secrets
never tiring     not fearing
disclosure    it knows
only those called get the message
For any afraid of over-long time
it seems to stop for a moment
ever onward traveling peddler                                                                    ciels 16

Marine ode


In the vast reaches where are lost
volume     size      every reference
we find rhythms of light
that no incident     except perhaps
black tides of seeping oil  --  hardly even --
could ever break for long


The moving waters the Book evokes
could surely never be depicted
in terms of solitude
amplifying the human kind
Rather as overlapping multitudes
image of Apocalypse


What do the fish know of us
as they evolve in deep waters
Do they recall divers
or await the autopsy
of the foolhardy quadruped
lost amidst the sea's prairies


Deliver us from those who mean well
(ardent sowers of catastrophes)
deliver us from those who erect barriers
or proclaim they know the only way out
Marine vastnesses     contradictory
initiate us to excess


Discovering at last the stations of the sea
somewhere out in the middle of the waves
in a place still as inaccessible
as the Fortunate Islands were to the Discoverers
a place where people might come
from the four winds to exchange news

ciels 18


Pictures for an inundation


    The omens, the rare certainties. The dream ever the same : luggage lost, forgotten here or there. Let it go, let all that junk drift off on the water. You yourself, sufficiently degreased by some friendly protozoan, you can wait for the equivalent of a higher rise of the stream to go floating off with the torn off branches and old bottles.
    That's what we say when the sun gives the river tones of zinc. Still, something detects that we aren't ready yet. The night has not set out on its way.


    On its way the rolling of the water, its torso half held back. The river passes through a sluice with a vigor that makes you glad. It's as if it was pretending in the curve and leap of the fall, in the roar of waters, to be the equal of a provincial Niagara. If only we could play like that, all our faculties giddy !
    Further along, the meadows flooded, herds repatriated in haste, gardens threatened by the  live water.


    The live water never sleeps. By night, those living along the riverside kept awake by cares listen to its roar. A thousand streams hasten toward the forthcoming carnival. Cautiously the hydro-mechanical merry-go-round begins to turn.
    Those involved only see one part of the show. Did you not say that life's a circus, never?


    Never the trees on the banks were more beautiful than they are now, only the bouquets of branches emerging. Above them a Nicolas Poussin sky.
    The flooded plain is itself  another sky, expanded domain of wild swans and fishermen installed along the dykes. Both are capable of ignoring, torn from the banks, the jetsam washed up against the fences, caught on the stakes.
    The magnitude of a valley allow us to banish from our gaze the tide of rubbish from a world in disarray. There remain the main outlines, the overall framework and all those reflections indicating a patching up of the pools at the bottom of the expanded river.
    You could imagine, if the climate were more agreeable, in all urbanity, a crowd of bathers having fun swimming in the lake so temporary.


    Temporary sprawl, oscillating between gray and sepia. Appearing motionless, only a slight seething indicates forward motion.
    The night improvises another story : the earth and the water being offered incense by the moon and the shadows.                                                                            ciels 21    

Today's Christmas

Here is the longest night
eager to hide the light
Frost and snow
are poised to take control
of the young fire

All the cold of the world
has blown over him
today's slums
have no more cribs
or animals

Gray face
gaunt limbs
the child seems nearly dead
Will it live?

The star     and hope
know the answer

ciels 33




Plastic bags dirty papers
torn wrappings
trash of every origin

the environment
may be sordid
all the land groans
beneath burdens of glory
when the god
settles on the river


Contemplatives in their boat
pretend     without the least hurry
to be waiting for fish

Day has just detached itself
from night's haunches
Ahead of us    great expanses
of intact happiness
as yet again the diurnal space
is saved once more

ciels 34


The conquering sun

Emotion past     the words
     do not deign to appear
lost in the realm of shadows
    where oblivion dwells

They disappear indistinct
    like the tops of trees
    floating in the fog
that submerges plain and river

In the hope that heaven
    grant them a great breath
    come to subject the shadows
to the disk of the conquering sun

ciels 36



You live inside the poem
you build it from within
the animal looks fragile
what it builds resistant rather
it begins in the depths
where the sea water is still murky

Slowly you discover the object
useless and of changing colors

If you hold it to your cheek
apply it to your ear
you will surely hear the murmur
that preceded the birth
of the pearly top
with its subtle hum

ciels 39



Between the event
and the turning to words
so many intrusions     fissures
forgettings     omissions     gaps
diminishing the message
(loaded with gifts     with images)
until it is thinned down
rendered capable
of being slipped into the slot
of a common or garden letter box

A bit like the light
curving round the sun
before inviting it bluntly
to go off to sleep
behind the hills

ciels 41



The day leaves behind its burden
numbers and names fade away
or rather over a slow fire
simmer gently in our dreams
knit together in extravagance
to give birth to monsters
that will only half dissolve
when the next day
comes in its turn

ciels 42



When the cup of the globe
tips toward early morning
a brightness of new fresh milk
spreads through the atmosphere

The night's fibers
stretch unwillingly
and we might sometimes hear
in the silences of dawn
the syllables of day gliding near

ciels 43


Dream and reality

If you smash the dream
you'll find carcasses
mounds of material
just right and ready for recycling

While you dream
you'll shape the world
according to other schemas
kneaded by memory

The crests of the real
will sketch in the sky
strange scaffolds
for a museum of modern art

ciels 45


Frosty days



Coral reefs in the fog
bushes clad in frost
substitutes for the light
here crystallised
on frail branches

Until the sun
allowing its disk to emerge
from the shifting veils
strips the boughs
of their white ornaments

In a chiming
of metal and moisture
we hear the jar
against the felt of the leaves
of the last autumn

Remains under the eyelids
the vision of white
the instant when the brightness
triumphing over the grayness
shone out



More lovely than all words
skilled at extinction
after the prodigal outburst
for no-one in the world
unless the sun

Blades of hoar-frost
on fibers of broom
half fans
slightly open
in their corruscation

Far away     sand roses
transmuting the glow
at the limit of its strength
of an attenuated sun
pale beyond reply

Silence of light
such as to dazzle
take away the use of words
then dispersal of crystals
with no self-satisfaction

ciels 51



Strewn among the stars
the cosmos once restored, the body
has rejoined the elements
(juices, lymph, ardor of fire)
the soul
    pays visits to the mansions
of the sky and lingers
close to an auspicious star

ciels 58


Not really given nor acquired

Maintained at the price of cruel balancing acts
she walks over shards
cuts her feet but says nothing

Awaking from the hiccups of hypnosis
shaking off  false sleep uncradled
here she stands erect     dominating the rumors

Peace chopped fine
by the racket of train stations

ciels 59


Were they still living among us ?
Often a strange glow
robed them in gravity
we stood aside as they passed
the better to respect their secrets

ciels 60


Instructions for use

    A poem is not soft bread. Impossible to preserve it as such.

    Rather a seaman's biscuit, hard as stone, iron rations for days of distress. It has to be soaked in water, or wine, before chewing it in the mouth.

    Show a certain appetite, steadily swallow and digest   --  if possible.

ciels 74

Mémoire du silence (1977)


One walking across a plain
cannot avoid the meeting
better to glimpse far away
the stranger casting his shadow
to know that at the start of the journey
the procession is patiently waiting

The adventure will begin
between the two cypress hedges

If the visit happens by night
with sleep weaving its net
death will open our eyes
the moment we set off

memoire 19



Where is the gangplank
by which to advance toward you
to repeat snatches
of our former songs
and madly dream
of future wanderings

If the gangway is closed to me
I'll seal my memories
in the ear of a shell

memoire 20



Happy whoever finds peace
by touching the bark of a tree
who hears the echo of consonants
recited in cloisters of wind

He will savor even when old
the splendors of early childhood
the sharp acid taste of new sprung corn
rain that smells of chalk

Beatitude is for such as him
in the flesh of humble things
A wink from paradise
is inscribed in the depths of ravines

memoire 41

Food for the journey

In the forest thickets
flies speak words
a murmur of voices falling silent
accompanies the walker
like food for a summer journey
than might contain without disorder
a child's laughter
a little vegetable slowness
and colors hitherto unseen
lovely as hope
to tame the future

memoires 54


To the migrating angel

If you fly through the tops of the trees
the tide of their branches
caresses you innocently

A path slicing through the forest
offers you a bath of leaves
   in which you play

If the storm is slow to flee
with its rollings on the hills
its horses and cavalry

quickly add to its uproar
a brief touch of cymbals

memoires 62


Open letter

“The awakened sweetness of the hills
is no longer sufficient to pacify
the howling of the prowling wolves

The genii of the place have just now fled away
from the circle of rural maples
where they took shelter from the sun
(their presence still detectable
by the trembling of the hawthorns)

So many words at the tip of my pen
and so many embers smouldering
in a blazing desert . . .”

mémoires 67


Words don't live up in the sky
they dwell at the bottom of ponds
in the muck made of the leaves
and stalks of water lilies

Sometimes     you can tell they're breathing
by the slight bubbling on a surface
but how to decipher ?

Evenings     between twilight and nightfall
or late at night     they emerge
take a stroll on the bank
checking their shadows
their similarity with things
or rather their dissimilarity

memoire 73


Approximate sonnets (1989)


Among the ravaged branches
on the ground now harvested and black
with the latest plowings
you stare at your own double

Like the queen with the indiscreet mirror
half discovering the message
you wish you could spurn the image
smash the ring of the horizon

A single ray emerges from the clouds
that will interrupt the grayness
with a blaze of short-lived fire

Soon all will plunge into the dark
where you can hide the features
the furrows of your old face



The indistinct silhouette
lays two fingers to its lips
is it at the porthole of a boat
setting out for a distant port

Or deep in a well
the reflection of the features softened
of the girl who was gazing down
leaning over the edge

Might it be at the threshold of death
(fatigue but serenity)
the last trace of life

In the oval mirror
before it clouds over
according to the rites of former times



When the night is around us
the darkness dissolves the body and plunges it
into the obscure river of the origins
witness to a primordial world

Should one gather one's strength
and swim against the stream
or let the flow direct
the skiff of a half-dead life

Tomorrow there will be the brightness
occupying without contest
a world apparently real

For the moment the scales waver
between the anthem of praise
and the fear, the desire of death



Only the authentic survives
the essential remains
not necessarily the strongest
the dazzling the most solid

Often dread time
judges in justice
the unprejudiced junk merchant
makes his selection

For what end, unless one evening
when the whole horizon wavers
to supply a word of comfort

To help one alone beneath a lamp
pass the cape of dawn
hold on till break of day



Have no fear of nostalgia
never close your doors to it
let it come in like a friend
in its presence let your tears flow

You've been told again and again
'happiness has changed sides
the past is dead without return'
let them say so and curse so at will

Deep inside you know your past
in its brief moments of ecstasy
was gentle and good and substantial

Do not throw it away
keep it as a sacrament
of the beauty spread over the earth



If with my fingertips
I trace signs on the water
the words cross the pond
linking shore to shore

No correspondent there
will receive the message
the carps have assured me
of the silence of secrets

The trees capture the reflections
like the badly tuned picture
of a willful television set

Before I met the pond
I had no idea that so many planes
destroy the quiet of the sky



The memory knows its way
like a dog intent on pursuing
its prey along some path
never neglecting the slightest clue

Give it a sound, a smell
a sensation hot or cold
and off it goes as ever tirelessly
rebuilding a lost universe

Weaving day and night on the imprecise
fringe between two worlds
a hoped-for silhouette

Giving it for a brief moment
energy movement being
the mellowness the warmth of life



Sprigs of reed or rush
three or four no more
outline an ideogram
reflected on the body of the river

Signs that strike and fascinate
pure in your ambivalence
annoying by your muteness
weighty with lost words

Are you conveying a message
beyond anything explicit
impossible to decipher

Testimony of another age
one further off and of an elsewhere
on the threshold of absence ?



Those little clouds up in the sky
delighting the heart
why should they be any less real
than clods of earth

Aren't they part of our world
immeasurably watered
with the elixir of the galaxies
long before any human footstep

Commotion in the heavens
the landscape grows limitless
to the very edge of the horizon

It begins to sing in its own way
the ancient hymn immemorial
     the unanimous alleluia



    -- As kingfishers catch fire (G. M. Hopkins)

Like an emerald spindle
barely a living flame
on the stream's current
the flight of the kingfisher

At the heart of this autumn day
still misty with haze
motion and beauty fleeting
inflexible arrow of hope

Bird dear to the heart of the passer-by
(who recalls every being
the role assigned to each one)

Do you signify in this age
the trace of the Father's love
giving himself better in absence ?



Unable to get back to sleep
the would-be sleeper turns and squirms
occasionally the whistling at the temples
hums the name of a friend

Though he is far away like a gray
heron whose ample flight carries it on round
behind the poplar curtain

Is it really true that essentials never cease
thoughts try to cast
a net of concern
but end up catching nothing

Surely all it would take is a little of the music
remembered of words spoken long ago
and the source of tears would open



It has been raining sunshine under the trees
remember waking up in childhood
in the cool air of summer mornings
every day was a life

Over which the course of time
light as a troublesome child
slipped without pausing for breath

Neither boredom nor pain
since those originating places
have ceased in their work of depletion
intent on abolishing the brightness

Yet still there is the waking dream
the time to waken the dawn
to select the memory



In the muffled silence through which
shudders the silken rustle
of the flight of night birds
other sounds lie superimposed

Piercing whistles at the temples
drum beats in the heart
you are the echo of the flight
through time and space

of some strange space ship
already far removed from earth
on its way to the galaxies

Thus the deaf in their exile
hear the vibrations of the spheres
and discover other kingdoms



The light extends its empire
unveils a landscape partitioned
with fields and farms and factories
caught by surprise in fragile rest

Carefree as a sphinx
in no hurry to propose its riddle
time in this very new morning
divides into a thousand sequences

Never flowing waters sleep
the humble freshness the looming
of the moist insides of leaves

Beauty of water flowing on
joy at casting off
parable of the ephemeral



The trees and their silken drapery
leaves as frocks and frills
offer varying silhouettes
each different according to kind

They suffer in the cities
even more fully ignored by us
and yet they continue stoic
amidst the tumult our erring and straying

Do they breathe more freely by night
delivered from troublesome footsteps
and the racket of our machines ?

Even during the daytime perhaps
they put up with us ungrudgingly
in complete indifference ?



The breath moves over the waters
crinkling all the surface
from center to bankside rushes
where the ripples go to die

Sparkling plumes
for a baroque cavalcade
the poplars their jingling of leaves
escort the day's decline

Along the river's frontiers
fishermen armed with lines
stand guard until nightfall

While over the moving waters
and their muddy empire
unending watches the wind



She chooses the moonless nights
the light of the sky alone
guides her down the hollows
preserves her from every snare

She is the voyager of the night
the village's mad old woman
who repeats and repeats again
the circuit of long gone days

Your eyes have hardly closed
than she comes holding high her skirts
and obliges you to go after her

Through often repeated tales
where effortlessly springs to the eyes
ever more implausibility



Those who travel along the highways
seem to possess some secret
to be seeking amidst the crowds
an initiate worthy to share it

What are they hiding under their clothes
in the folds of those old jackets
if it's not some kind of nostalgia
the longing to go somewhere else

But for us who inhabit the village
sitting in front of our homes
after the heat of the day

They leave behind once they are gone
a sense of regret at not having followed
and so enlarged the field of our dreams



Festivities for those deceased
all souls' day beneath light sunshine
the horizon veiled by a slight haze
inspires no sense of sorrow

At most a translucent scarf
like a sign bidding farewell to friends
whose car is moving away
after visiting the village

We bid them come back soon
but suddenly feel much less sure
aren't we all bound to disappear

The sky and our thoughts grow vague
feeble our hope, yet strong the desire
for more certain reunions



Fables are white handkerchiefs
or else those brightly colored
I would like to flourish them
high over my head through the town

With them I would make signs
to the too busy citizens
and the old men in the squares
who will take me for someone foolish

Now the flow of life is carrying me off
you turn aside your eyes
if I request you to do me a favor

With my make-believe stories
how shall I make myself heard
am I not still a child ?



I'll cross from one shore to the other
now when the bridge deserted
offers a kindly face
the better to hide its spells

Destiny shakes the dice
why should I reject its advances
so long as I can decipher the signs
it may be a great adventure

The river pursues its course
down to the sea immemorial
and invites you to take the risk

Beneath the chugging of barges
imposes itself without effort
the great roar of darkness


Poésie nomade (1978)


Whistlings     of course
and their repeated cadence
striking against the wall of the eardrum
communicating by the tiny bones of the ear
sounds breathless like alleluias

But how to send the images
transmit the landscape
Where to find the television
granting the same ecstasy
to those whom space separates

poésie nomade 123



         (bowl of milk
overturned on us
vertigo of the immaculate
pale as death)
you cause     irritating
a blinking of the lids

Unbearable purity
are you there only to quicken
the splendors of life
the heat of regret
the brightness of hope
the dark fire of love

poésie nomade 121


Must we

    ripen to die
limit the memory
to none but elect recollections

    for fullness' sake
displace parentheses
accumulate delays

    shake the carcass
leaking on all sides
vivify it with vibrations
before the miry path

    pay somewhat dear
for training in trances
and festive prancing

    announce emphatically
or hint discretely at
constellated events
predicting catastrophes
or a savior's birth

poésie nomade 116



Each of those privileged
to live in the city
is received without ceremony
like waste paper in a basket
the oldest at the bottom
already submerged by the mass
of the newly chucked

Those thrown in on top
unfold with slight sounds
insect chirpings
after which they are no longer audible
amidst the city's noise
woven of a thousand frequencies
intensifying their silence

poésie nomade 115



Insects shaken
rushing about in all directions
    might have supposed
fire in the anthill

    the only fires alight are neon
or     green orange red
lights the lawless wind
ignores at crossroads

poésie nomade 114



Cradle of so many
they curse it
like hating your mother
while still being fond of her
they plan to move on
but keep coming back to the hive

so  --  country-dweller – I imagine
the city     its inhabitants
and their umbilical cord
composed of a serum of dreams
utopias     fantasies
concocted in ambivalence

these are sensitive matters
where the poet's swagger
is not worth a child's cry
the city and all its quaking
enjoy reading fortunes by cards
to mystify the city-dwellers

somewhere mid-way
between alcove and church
stands the angel of the city
wings folded under its jacket
taking over the conscience
of this or that constituent

poésie nomade 112


Proverbs back to front

In autumn hope is born afresh
At summer's end the year begins again
    Leaves will gleam resplendent
eclipsing the proudest metals

In spring is not the birth
but at the time of shortest days
the season when seeds sink deeper
when warmth    grows ever shorter

The old have less fear of winter
than little children playing hopscotch
All it takes is a gleam of light
for life to blaze up again

poesie nomade 110




Begin backwards
                       no other way
destiny is only seen on completion

Going farthest forward
(therein lies the key)
like a return home

People of old used to say     Paradise
the garden that shuts its gates
the deserted  spot we return to

Image far too spatial
to the taste of thinkers today
but how else to put it


If time sucks us up
make fun of him
imagine (something he does not know)
him being engulfed

time not immortal
we shall learn my brothers
how to nail him down


so    magic of the Torah
the Quran and all those texts
we climb through page by page
from right to left in the opposite direction
to the hands of a watch
the cogwheels of death

poesie nomade 108



Could any drawing
manage to catch that face
adhering to the window
frosty effigy

a frenzied copying of dreams
inscribes signs
residues of soot
coal's insolence
on the cleanness of washing

snow imposes silence
muffles the heaviest steps
arouses enough anguish
to turn the prowler
back homewards

ambiguity of white
on the threshold of a cry
that remains enclosed
in the throat of the sleeper
awakened by life

poesie nomade 107


Essential friends

No separation will be perfect
each being grows double at the decisive moment
     et takes account of shadow

Thus we shall live in others
 -- one single being would do --
our disseminated secrets
         mingled in the mystery of marrows
         clinging to the least globule
         inscribed along nerves
         diffused in the blood
         recorded in the computer
         of the brain and spinal cortex

Messages hanging from the branches
from the slightest twigs
Secrets confided to the essential friends

poesie nomade 95



Still ahead of us childhood :
we are past the age
of those dark kidnappers of children
and we will be capable of defending
this being with wide open eyes
beholding things new
and the sky in its freedom

Plenty of terrible parents
have robbed us of the keys
to the source and the garden
too many sinister mock-angels
have tried to take us by the hand
and lead us far away
from the fig-trees of paradise

Immortality of childhood :
that precious geyser of blood
had to be very powerful
to ceaselessly keep renewing
in our veins    hope
in our hearts     a taste for living
a desperate thirst for dreams

poesie nomade 92



Sink, pass through the surface
leap over the wall
go and look on the other side
if God is underneath things
at the back of the landscape
in the labyrinth of the scenery
in the folds of an old face

Coming and going is not easy
between overlapping worlds :
the green crackle of leaves
dawn and the suspicion of the Word
germinating in others

At the threshold of the last stretch
comes a longing to grow accustomed
to our ephemeral costumes --
we're going to have to undress
attain nakedness
that humble initial nudity

poesie nomade 90



Moments of happiness resist
the dull blow of memories
the slamming of doors
on the departure platform

Moments of happiness grow keener
with the flight of years
with the falling of leaves
hurled round curves
along the boulevards of the wind

It is not true that we get bogged down
if the heart with its flood of blood
come and irrigate the mind – kindling it
and telling it to go on ahead

There remains infinitely
all the things that cannot be told
except by some kind of cry
the approximate cryptogram
the seed-sown silence
the approach and freshness of a breath

poesie nomade 88


Guardian angel

To have an angel in one's hand
faithful at the earthly rendezvous
standing – robed in white no doubt
by the recumbent sleeper's bedside

Waking me with his fingertips
for the transmission of the fluid
 -- life throughout existence

Holding in his hand the measure
apportioned to my mortal days

And in the network of his gaze
all the whole sweep of seas
suspended from a single star

poesie nomade 87



You can dream with those dwellings
where people kept old clothes
the bed     the table     the cupboard
the Bible and the trinkets
behind the half-closed shutters
of the room of the deceased

            Thus the departed
could without too much error
loom up again for one brief instant
in the dark hours of night
inhale a familiar perfume
or stroke the spine of a book

You can dream with those gardens
where very old trees used to survive
planted on anniversary days
Thus the shades of former days
could even avoid the abrasions of the moon

Between life and death
sacramental vestiges
inserted stitches

poesie nomade 86



The power     the tension     the rhythm
the sway of the sea swell
the breaking of waves
the stretching to tearing point
the constant repetition on the sand
the building up of the bank of seaweed :
         against which drifting syllables
obliterate themselves
smash to pieces with the tides
breaking like great masts
words in bits     words in tears

poesie nomade 84


The sea that vanished

Call hard enough
spelling out its name
it may come back to its lands
as in days of old
when it ruled
alone     magisterial
over the great sand bars
for fragile shells
destined to brave the centuries

Immemorial signature
the sea      withdrawing
left us the seal    the imprint
of its terraqueous empire
embroidering its number on the schists

Perhaps one day     invading
it may rediscover     amazed
traces of its heritage
remains of ancient subjects
that vanished during its exodus

poesie nomade 82


The trees

As witnesses to God I retain     the trees
faithful     careful to comfort
they give joy     draw upward
toward rest in their foliage
at times when powers of shade
are intent on domination

Vulnerable too     like God
tracked down     tortured     destroyed
burned in clearing fires
        but tenacious
if the least chance is left
to the sap     the life they bear

Witnesses to the author of life : the trees

poesie nomade 81


The wind

The barking of dogs cannot disturb the wind
as it wanders through forests
it always knows how to go farther
than the houses     dumb flock
gripped by the chill of  their cellars

The wind goes its way robed in green
off to poach in the high moors
it longs to sniff the fragrance
savor the taste of aniseed grains
the chervil and the sap of ash trees
pursue its path at leisure
puff its cheeks in the valley

slip under the shutters
to frighten the timid
by simulating cataclysms
and make the hearts throb
of sleepers dreaming of departure
flying up into the stratosphere

Perhaps it will discover the angels
in their discrete night-time rounds
passing low stone walls
to take their turn watching
over the sleep of villages

poesie nomade 78



These are great nights exorcised
in high fever with heat lightning
The huddled bulldozer
has allowed the moon to overwhelm it
it will not budge an inch before daybreak

The unmoving light on the hills
without a single sound has begun to flow again
The whole land is pulling at its moorings
weary of just one horizon
preparing to set sail
to go on visits to other realms
over toward the orient
then return borne by the waves
at the first tide of the rising sun

poesie nomade 77




We'll go back home not to sleep but to go down to the nocturnal world, back again to the gloomy canals. How good it will be to glide along, carried on the current, as far as the muddy pond.
Like the tube of a diving suit a water-lily cord will link us to the open air. We'll return saturated with the unction of the abyss, sons of the slime of the children of dreams.


Or else it might be the forests, the paths along which we shall discover great wonders : fruits, flowers, animals, strange and benevolent personalities. There too we'll experience the insidious terror of being for ever lost in inextricable thickets, submerged in coppices,  wandering through high groves without any landmark. But mastering our fears, quickened by an irresistible desire, we'll set off in pursuit of long-distance doe – experts they are at covering their tracks.


Perhaps an angel will guide us through an unfamiliar city beside some river. First we'll be in the suburbs, passing through working-class neighborhoods in the half light of a winter morning. We'll approach the brightly lit center without knowing where the angel is taking us or if he himself knows the journey's goal.

poesie nomade 74



At the edge of the year
the forest prepares to set off
the branches to get dressed – in dreams --
with the leaves of their ephemeral daily calendar
each detachable at the wind's whim
according to the rustic calendar
allergic to mathematics

twigs are pruned off
and the joy of the branch tips
will warm to the inmost heart
the gaze of the stars
on each of the ephemeral
wanderers we are

poesie nomade 77



Splash of clamorous outcry
illiterate autumn
keeps endlessly emptying its bag
of colors guaranteed washable

The great shield stands unfurled
on the crest of hills
and the blue wind transmits the message
to children going home after school

Anyone capable of deciphering the signs
of the polychrome harmonies
and composing without undue stress
autumn's last testament
will receive a token for a journey
valid one sidereal year

poesie nomade 72



Persevering fisherman
I'll let my lines drift
straight down the stream

A few words poor flies
dance at the hook
in hope of enticing
virtuoso vocables
(pirouette and broad sunlight)
harder to catch
than the cunning eels
resting on the arena
where rippled water draws
such lovely ideograms

poesie nomade 71



That busy host of ants
words  --  obviously  --  fine masks
words of bitterness and love
     framing a silence

will they one day suspend sleep
blind task of consciences
where discourse is abolished

At every moment  --  no slightest pause  --
their cracklings can be heard
their buzzing bombyx
their stirring of straws

Will they draw the signs
outlining the enunciation of the mystery
to be deciphered by the passer-by
or will they finally annul themselves
extinguish their screeching
     leave the universe in peace

poesie nomade 70



We're going to desert these bodies, we're going to leave them behind.
A doubt has just arisen :
Will time be given to put everything in order ?
It's gone now, the era of patriarchs
  --  their last moments, the family gathered round
and the ritual blessing for each one  --
or even the time of those great bourgeois patricians
still vigorous but far-sighted : about the midst of their days
dictating their wills to a lawyer discrete as the grave.

We shall be gathered home before our task has begun
having dreamed of a more fraternal world
a little time, a little agitation
and there we'll be, lying here and there, enriching the soil,
taking our place on top of all those who came
here in successive hordes and burst out into the light in a first cry of agony.

Although mutilated by dark powers
we have lived instants of happiness
gratitude is due to those who along our paths
were angels. They put into our eyes
into the fervor of our blood
     the nostalgia for eternity.

So sailing on toward the last cataclysm, our own,
the one by which the world will vanish to our eyes
     let's keep rocking from one side to another ceaselessly :
the great hope borne up through two millennia
by our demanding mother church ? Or the doubt
of a return to the origin, indifferent and dumb, of all living matter ?
Who will decide ? Perhaps only the voice within us and the memory
of the angels encountered in a rustle of gestures and words
all the time knotting to our hearts and breathing
the refusal to see for ever vanish the communion woven
     beyond actions and sounds.

poesie nomade 64




Remember you are only dust
and the sower has gone to his field
the grain must die in the ground

Remember the wretched cross
inscribed in ashes on your brow
the cold will lay frost on the ferns

The birds shatter the setting sun
the lake covers its seedy shallows
remember you are only dust


In warmish evenings of alfafa
and on mornings of low mist
when hope sees its flowers fade

Those here below     those elsewhere
under skies drunken with grasshoppers :
remember them all      O Lord.

And we too seeking signs of you
near the blue turned earth of furrows :
harvest us into Your memory

poesie nomade 62


The angels

The angels arrived in late summer
bringing the savor of a distant world
On their clothing we detected
    perfumes strange.

Not that their universe
was so very far from what we know
But it has been so long
since we abandoned
the garden of meeting.

When they reached earth
and crossed our paths
the sky lost all its warmth

The warmth had come following in their footsteps
the stars were vibrating cold
the sky trembled over our heads

poesie nomade 61


Little city suite


The sky slides down the river
Chagall's lovers
fly over the town.
The cracks heard at night
can never dry up
the murmur of the source.


Making their way through the folds of curtains
bright moon-beams were flowing in,
the lights of the city
were signaling to the mast lights of the ship.


The street-side trees
had just taken off their shirts
a very light swaying
was scanning the translucent night.


The fog came unrolling its coils
marginal serpent, flight of doves.
The sun once risen, night locked away
tiny secrets in its writing desk.

poesie nomade 60



We are the pathways of the world
No desert will ever kill
these humble living pathways
by which the most merciful
comes journeying whenever he pleases
together with the three kings, angels,
saints, martyrs, prophets.

Strong they are, the world's pathways
with all the host of heaven.
As a great river flowing ceaseless
is fed by its tributaries
slender sources in great number,
so too the powers on high
gladly take these pathways humans are.

poesie nomade 59


The link

Despite the death
of everything relentlessly
of the shadows under the trees
a desire for life
clings to the slender branches
tangles among the weeds
     and trembles
as a buzzing of bees
on the flowers in the grass.

Grain of sand, grain of fire
drop of water, light breath,
minute living magma
devoid of any dream of renewing
the earth and all its quaking,
you are the indissoluble link
between the anxious being
 -- disruptive Prometheus --
and the source, the first principle.

poesie nomade 58


Bitter river

So much mud torn from the banks
in order to soften the bed of the stream
so many drowned bodies the river accumulates
     in the depths of its course.

What you desire is not death
but the life that lies beyond death.
You hesitate to offer your face
     to the unsilvered mirror.

You know that a god reigns over the river
his home in the depths of the stream
     sometimes he rises
and shakes from his bare shoulders
the surface iridescent with oil.

But it is not he that you call
that at the same time you want to flee from.
It's the Master to whom the spirits
are subject : living and dead alike.

You believed in metamorphoses
achieved in an instant
you intended to die to appearances
     in a single flash

What you needed was another path
one longer along the tow paths
unfolding each day the icy fan
     of shadows.

Robust and tough you started out
you'll be different by the time you arrive.
The old man knows no other return
     than simply waiting.

poesie nomade 56


The flood

Strangers like a flood
come beating about your house.
The days on the calendar
grow yellow and change.
The durability of stone
the splendor of the sun
spacing out the march of time :
will they in the end welcome
the savor of life, the true sort ?

poesie nomade 55



    On the banks of the Saône, a man split in two. One gray October day, around six in the evening, as mist was falling over the town.
    I tell you I saw a man detach himself from himself, but as for knowing which was the original and which the double, I cannot tell – I was too far away on the other side of the river.
    Since this scene occurred just by the edge of the water, that made four men, all issuing from the same image, and each of them went off in a different direction.
    The first followed the river, taking the path of dead leaves and twigs toward the south and the sun, in the hope that what comprised his substance, or his reflection, might unite with the sea and the happy isles.
    The second flew eastward with the black birds headed for the Ukraine.
    The third climbed the hills and marched toward the west in search of another river, one feeding into the ocean.
    Then the last headed northward, in the murky water against the stream, with the eels that know the mouths of rivers and the art of passing down mill-streams.

poesie nomade 50


On Psalm 95

Forty years long I was grieved with this  generation
so says the Psalm and I ponder over myself.
I took roundabout paths along the creeks
the summer's splendor scorched my eyes
all day long I spied the water's emotion,
the glory of heaven rested on the sea.

Why suddenly without word or warning
this darkening of the whole horizon ?
Which of us two has just broken the pact ?
Your priests had told me : in Him alone joy,
the emergent earth was worked by his hands
the depths of seas too are his domain.

Henceforth the enemy erases the sign
inscribed on every tree and every stone.
The voices of friends echoes veiled
the saint in the window has lost his halo
the memory of days that passed so brightly
takes wing screaming like the birds.

Like a friend keeping a friend at a distance
you vanish from the previously loved world
and all things in your absence fall silent.
Is that for the sake of the cruel game : to make me seek you,
this veil over your face and my darkness,
unchanging light giving light to the earth ?

poesie nomade 48


Sentient thought

Letting itself glide, thought
(at rest in the landscape)
discovers strange gleams
on the fastenings of plowshares
and the limits of plots of land.
It hears the rustling of reeds
the murmurs of animals
sensing the slightest trace
of the shortening of their days.

Such is thought in its tranquil form
before it goes off to explain
select the materials it needs
to construct systems.
It abandons its axioms
to the traveling breezes
longing not to forget
the least crumb of earth.

poesie nomade 54


The distant sea

Never again the sea
it is enough for you
to have touched it
long ago and seen
you have a life
and perhaps eternity
to discover it
to reinvent it
to comfort yourself
with its vast voice discrete
and irrefutable
the immortal sea
in which to bathe your body
immerse your song

At times you will no longer know
if it was a dream
that roar
of winter surf
and the clattering
roll of shells
will seem the shock
of a feverish pulse

Never again the sea
it may prove more true
to have dreamed of it
like some old guy
in the gray asylum ward
confused and no longer sure
if he was the lover
of the lovely lady
in the good old days
and counts off the seasons
of years gone by
on his numb fingers

Dream or memory
in the depths of the soul
there remains the sea
that vast voice so discrete
and ceaseless
the immortal sea
into which to plunge your song

poesie nomade 28


Light from the other shore

I keep forgetting your face
and you keep coming back to me
at the most unexpected moments
as when during some long journey
stands out against a blood-red sky
the portrait of one long departed
above a calm sea
near the line of mist
that divides the two realms.

poesie nomade 26


Stranger and pilgrim

Nose hooked in semitic style
bald     serious     skinny     bent
all you lack is a staff
to mark time in your nomad's progress

Others may take root
in fine good ground
blossom there like almond trees
in the first warm days of spring

You know full well that Paradise
is no longer yours here below
You mustn't stretch your legs too far
under the visitors' table

Don't try asking
for another dish another glass
be happy they tolerate you
without asking to see your papers
Speak little     keep to the shadows
don't make yourself too conspicuous
travel on a little way
the rest is none of your business

poesie nomade 24


March of wise men from the west

Sky lowering, icy patches
seek for hope in spite of everything
hold firm in the wild wind
of vain dreams in cavalcade.

Advance in the promise
under a hail of denials
offer the cold of the steppes
the firm wakefulness of the spirit.

Here comes Christmas without the arpeggios
in the low-browed sky
the horizon is Greek fire :
Christ will be born of snow.

poesie nomade 23


The strength not to hate

Strength absent without leave
crystal too pure for our mud
rose stripped of petals by our breath

ah ! too much blood     mildew
and suspicion tenacious
as weeds in the field

when will we get back
the strength not to hate
another's face our own

we must tame
that close unfamiliar love
the pure crystal the red rose

let the deepest come springing forth
the wild roses drop their petals
after the lilac season

hot and cold
damp and dry
flower and fruit
nights and vigils
will follow one another
the better to return

a man cried out
where shall I find peace
the swing of seasons
used to amuse me so much
and now I've got a headache

the seed is within the ripe fruit
the sap flows under the bark
in my weakness is my strength
'the worst is never sure'

Can one pass through the wall of songs immured live ?
yet I hear the deep rustle
like palms in the wind

and all the little babbling of running water
never stops vibrating otherwise
a perfume of death invades me

there are days when that familiar pulsation
harmonizing life and dream
is sufficient in itself

sometimes unexpectedly without any warning
the cry desires to transgress its barriers
and escape from me metamorphosed

constantly it comes back to me docile
knowing that its hour and mine
are not yet done

poesie nomade 11


In little bundles
in little flocks

in somber bouquets
in sticky lumps

weary of their false tone
I wait for the final emergence of
     a Word

poesie nomade 14


Les sentiers du monde (1972)


Down in the valley     the village
wrapped in its secrets
so many treasures in the toils
under the mask the face

On our brows are inscribed the ravages
of layer upon layer of cares
like a sheet all folded and creased
under the mask the face

How many storms will it take
to wash away the artful airs
the scars from our features
under the mask the face

sentiers 9



The houses with shutters closed
rising round a corner of a road
have many secret traps hidden
behind their fleeing plaster.

Dwellings with shutters shut tight,
one hard ray of light
spends the day exploring
the empty space of a room

And awakens with its finger
objects that recall
their long-lost owners
in the midst of other lives

Memory is a seed
within the pulp of utensils
an embryo feeding
on colors and appearances.

Beware of empty houses
of drawers falling to dust
sometimes an antique sortilege
lies in ambush under the form of things.

sentiers 16


The keys

Yesterday I used to pass through the doors
the walls of prisons
the surface of the pond
and the trunks of huge old oaks
then go on my way holding
secrets some of which were perhaps
not too distorted
by the jolts along the way.

There were times when I came home
opening empty hands
the memory remained engraved
intact on the flat of my palms.
Today     doors and walls
water and fire; rocks, plants
are concealed from me like mysteries.

The cipher is lost for ever
of the hidden splendor of things.
But I still preserve the memory
of a world then manifest
open to my wandering steps
to the aimlessness of my quest.

Have I really lost the keys
of this garden closed to me
Or have they been taken from me ?
What demon in furtive fashion
could have robbed me in this way ?

Sometimes I seem to see looming
a shadow     a gleam
behind the elements
inert or living of the planet --
(an underwater coral perhaps
its silhouette distorted).

Is it real ? Illusion ?
That open face-to-face dialogue :
did it only belong to a childhood
prolonged into adult years
but bound to evaporate
sooner or later in the course of a lifetime ?

I query and in the silence
I sometimes think I hear a noise
in the night or what remains
a kind of echo, it is.
Thus, because I insist so,
nature     rather unwillingly
replies, puts forth a sign
then resumes her deep sleep
pursuing her plans, her dreams,
far from the troublemaker's eyes.

sentiers 19


Autumn river

The river trundles its despair
deep down far below its surface
almost forgetting its own reflections
    the gentleness of its banks.

Rustling takings of wing amidst the rushes
announce the November fogs.
The river knows the dive very near
into winter hammering out its gray chords
    on the water, on the banks.

But his own might the liquid god's
resides in his deep delving pride
withdrawing his heart to the deepest parts
down toward great silence.

sentiers 28



I caught in my gaze
the entire village
tiles    towers    spire    castle

The eye adjusted to it
the exact image of the real
deposited itself inside me
with a slight vibration
at the least shake of my head

Then, without damaging anything
it was all restored
gently and carefully
put back exactly in its place

sentiers 32


Here and elsewhere

The life along our limbs
the furrows, the young corn
the blood, the coming and going
of breath in our breast

are all in cahoots, conniving
to raise up forces :
the desire to go elsewhere
to take a road toward the sunshine.

The angels are not far away --
God too, but well hidden.
You have to wait and be alert
for fragile time
to let free a bit of eternity

sentiers 36


Peaceful night

The day takes its leave over the hills
leaving behind an odor of alfafa
and the chirping of crickets.
A precarious peace settles
over the meadows
and in the hearts of the villagers.

Soon strange cracklings
sounds of flight and cries of surprise
will be ringing out in the copses.
Beasts of every hue with tooth and claw
birds stuffed with down
insects adorned with their elytra
are poised to knit a thousand intrigues
in the splendor of the summer night.

Secret gravitations will even
make their way into the rooms
where humans are sleeping.
There they will provoke dreams
strange reminiscences
of antique slaughter
and appearances of monsters
chimeras      sphynxs     hippogriffs
dragons    wyverns      melusines
unicorns and salamanders

sentiers 42



Don't break up old dreams
leave them drying in the wind
nailed to living trees
like legal notices of seizure
or dispersal of inheritances

You will go on your way freed
of their heady chatter
of shrew and witch

They will slowly yellow
as in fields of rye
and then you will see teasing you
their golden outlines in the sunlight

sentiers 44



Emerging as if after an operation
from a deep lethargy
you sit up and the sun
forces you to shut your eyes again

The mockery of such brilliance
floods the heart with shadows
the very source of your being
plunges back into the void

Will it always be so ?
Stumbling through the cold shadows
you strike against countless furnishings
before glimpsing a way out

When sumptuous day blinds you
with so many multiplied fires
you begin again to hope
for a beam of that true light

 sentiers 46


A child

You've never done with inventing
a child that resembles yourself

And you long to save him
from the pain and the anguish
at each and every sunset
each return of the dark

You long to deliver him too
from homework late under the lamp
from blackmails conscience-driven
or sacred obligations

You long too to preserve
his secrets and images
the corner of wall    the old meadow
that  he alone had tamed

You've never done with inventing
a child of eternity

sentiers 54



Somewhere near midwinter
when the wind blew from the South
an old forgotten happiness
began to sing again.

It said : You know, despairing
is never the surest way.
It spoke like a humble peasant
in phrases short and sweet.

The silent heart could not believe
such a visitation.

It felt like some old friend
come back to spent the night.
No question of interrupting,
just let the words flow on
till weariness concludes.

There could never be any question
of always enjoying its light
the cold would dress again the trees
with rough-knit robes of ice.
Again would come knocking at the door
more visitors sinister.

The best was just to fill the heart
with that unexpected bliss
bringing awake like a siren-sound brief
the hastening multitudes.

All the joys of times gone by
kept coming in sudden waves,
named themselves successively
then returned to the pallid night.

sentiers 58



Sure of time and space
she advances never stumbling
        Her beauty
wraps her round : subtle armor.

She is ignorant of none of the secrets
of plant-world's essences
        and heals
without a charlatan's arrogance
the diseases of heart and mind.

sentiers 62



She arrives without any instrument
no drum or trumpet call
her song never too dominant
over the height of the hills.
She is almost at arm's reach
comes and sits without ceremony
close to all those who welcome her.

sentiers 63



She never blinks
never pretends
not to notice
the way the world goes.

She advances too
and goes on her way
respecting each of the ants
letting the flock of birds turn
with their plumage of night.

sentiers 64

Pater Noster  

    sentiers 66-74

When the wind rose
the grass
brought together its tall heads
with their fine purple seeds
into a great Persian carpet

Then in its liberty
 -- disdaining conventions --
over the shaking grass
the wind
uttered bright words

Each of them had a face
each one said its name
as they flew higher than earth
toward the only name of brightness

Hallowed be your name


the kingdom

I watched the clouds
disappearing toward the South
All the roofs in the neighborhood
were setting out against the stream.

If it were only the clouds
getting out of it
but the world's no longer stable
everything's drifting off
one old peasant said to me

(Now the hope of a new world
ever smoulders under the ashes)


the will of alliance

The sun is at the heart of the tree
sleep is at the heart of the fruit
the sky glows red under jets of light
I laugh : winter is already starting to desert

You come to prepare the earth
that attends to your decrees
so grant to human kind
to accept your friendship



The substantial bread of this day
weekdays and special festival days
the burning bread of friendship
of joy and of misery

It is sign     crumb    breaking
of the bread of glory in heaven
to be shared among the inhabitants
of a reconciled universe



The black water under the ground
raised its snake's head
at the call of the water from heaven
drowning the soil with bright mists

May our baptism come from heaven
may the floodgates of forgiveness
with full remission
flow over our brows



Lord in whom I hope
will it be long-lasting
this procession of shadows
and for brief moments
a ray of light ?

At the hour when evening
yields to night
hear my cry

By a friendly sign
assure me, please,
that you're not far away

When it all gets hard
when in our throat
the song of heaven dies
and all splendor

Submit us not to too harsh a trial



The man tried to tear himself out of his dreams
and held out his hands
but the long strands of seaweed imprisoned him
he remained caught in their toils

Lord deliver us from evil
present  past  and to come
come to break the hardened heart
and provoke a storm of tears


He awaits our praise
having given all
so may our lips loosen
and our praises rise

For a whole limpid world
close by us proclaims
the immense glory of God
the obstinate love of men

To God alone belong
kingdom    power   and glory




Without the hope
of the coming kingdom
if the heir apparent
had not appeared
in the fold of history

would we have the strength
to sing life
fragile and threatened
amidst the tumult
and the rumors of war

Without the tidings
uttered in a murmur

Without the hope

sentiers 75


Old world

Old world     you can vanish now
we'll not wear mourning for you
travellers with little luggage
we'll take with us the very best
of your sparkling treasures

That will be a scrap of friendship
some fragments of old encounters
and some secrets only the angels
will be able perhaps to contemplate

sentiers 82