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The Shark and the Seagull

Translated by Mary Ann Caws

Finally I catch sight of the sea in its triple harmony, the sea whose crescent slices into the dynasty of absurd griefs, the great preserver of wild birds, the sea as credulous as a bindweed.

When I say: I have lifted the law, I have gone past morality, I have buckled my heart, it isn’t to claim I am right before this scale of emptiness whose sound extends its palm beyond my conviction . But nothing of what has seen me live and act until now is around to bear witness. My shoulder may slumber, my youth may rush in. From that alone wealth immediate and workable should be drawn.

So there’s one pure day in the year, one day that furrows its marvelous balcony in the foam of the sea, one day rising as high as the eyes to crown noontime. Yesterday nobility was wasteland, the branch was far from its buds. The shark and the seagull did not converse.

Oh rainbow of this grinding shore, bring the ship close to its hope. Make every supposed goal find some new innocence, a feverish forwardness for those who are stumbling in the heaviness of morning.


René Char

René Char (1907-88) is one of the most important modern French poets.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 07-JAN 08

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