Monday, 25 July 2011

Bird without wings

As a young man Joë Bousquet came to England to study, Southampton I believe, and liked it so much he changed his name. In 1915 he was shot in the back and paralysed. Aged 19 he returned to his hometown of Carcassonne to a top-floor flat in the Rue De Verdun and, apart from a very few trips out in a wheelchair, never left it till he died 35 years later.


But he was a poet, a strange poet whose work drew the attention of people like Max Ernst, Luis Aragon and Paul Eluard who all saw in him something at once tragic and heroic. Here was an embodiment of the wounded king (or the Fisher King of the Grail legend) imprisoned by his injuries yet granted a vision of Truth witheld from ordinary mankind.

First, two rather beautiful observations (from recalltopoetry.blogspot)
"Beauty has no other origin than the singular wound, different in every case, hidden or visible, which each man bears within himself, which he preserves, and into which he withdraws when he wants to leave the world for a temporary but authentic solitude....Art seems to me determined to discover this secret wound in each being and even in each thing."
Jean Genet

"My wound existed before me, I was born to embody it."
Joe Bousquet

And now,(in rather crude translation):

The Bird Without Wings

The light glimmers in your eyes, but it is not yet day. You awoke too soon - but there you are. 
The street, the morning, the house and you; not that you care 
If this city, hauled from the fog, is yours or not.

Twelve silver bells ring out across the waters  
To the bed-steed and the bird of mercy  
And the soothing needle. Twelve iron bells ring
In the locks to open up a day filled with fallen leaves;
Ring in the rape of the sealed eyelids of the pallid sleeper.

The flotillas of day have slept beneath the snow.  
In but a few hours, with her golden buttons, her thorns and pink mayflowers,
That fresh-faced girl will wipe your face as she wipes you out.
Grasp the unseen flower, more faithful than a star. 
Carry it without looking.

The winged cherry-picker returns, with hair flying, and feet of clay.

His last years were spent surrounded by great art and books in a room whose curtains were never opened, and a fever of morphine, opium and poetry.

The room has been preserved exactly as he left it, smoke-stains and all, save for the pale impressions of paintings that have been sold to pay for its upkeep. La Maison des Memoires.

Maison des Mémoires
Esprits Nomades

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