Here's to the Snake!by René Char
Translated by Mary Ann Caws
I sing of heat with the face of a newborn, desperate heat.
It’s bread’s turn to break man, to be the beauty of daybreak.
The one who relies on the sunflower won’t meditate in the house. All the thoughts of love will be his thoughts.
In the swoop of the swallow, a storm builds, a garden forms.
There’ll always be a drop of water lasting longer than the sun without the sun’s ascent being shaken.
Produce what knowledge wants to keep secret, knowledge with a hundred passages.
What comes into being without troubling anything deserves neither attention nor patience.
How long will there be this man dying in the center of creation, missing, because creation has sent him off?
Every house was a season. So the town repeated itself. All the inhabitants together knew nothing but winter, despite their bodies warmed over, despite the day that did not leave.
You are in your essence constantly a poet, constantly at the height of your love, constantly avid of truth and justice. It’s doubtless a necessary evil that you can’t be such assiduously in your consciousness.
You’ll make of the nonexistent soul a person who’s its better.
Look at the foolhardy image your country bathes in, this pleasure which has escaped you for ages.
Numerous are they who wait for the shoal to lift them up, for the goal to certify them, in order to define themselves.
Be grateful to the person who doesn’t care about your remorse. You are his equal.
Tears despise the one they confide in.
There remains a calculable depth where sand subjugates fate.
My beloved, it matters little that I’ve been born: you’ll become visible just at the place where I disappear.
To be able to walk, without deceiving the bird, from the tree’s heart to the fruit’s ecstasy.
What welcomes you through pleasure is only the mercenary gratitude of memory. The presence you’ve chosen delivers no farewell.
Don’t bend over except to love. If you die, you still love.
The shadows you steep yourself in are ruled by the lewdness of your solar ascendancy.
Don’t pay any attention to those in whose eyes people are just a stage of color on the tormented back of the earth. Let them reel off their long remonstrance. The poker’s ink and the cloud’s crimson are of a piece.
It’s unworthy of the poet to mystify the lamb, to take on his wool.
If we inhabit a lightning flash, it’s the heart of eternity.
Eyes who, having invented daytime, have awakened the wind, what can I do for you? I am forgetfulness.
Poetry is of all the clear waters the one which lingers least in the reflection of its bridges.
Poetry, future life in the interior of man requalified.
A rose for it to rain. After innumerable years, this is your wish.
René Char (1907-88) is one of the most important modern French poets.