Thursday, January 3, 2013



The Oriole breached dawn's capital town.

The sword of his song closed the cheerless bed.

All forever came to an end.


Summer and our life, we were fused
Fields devoured the hues of your perfumed clothes
Restraint and passion declared a truce
Maubec Castle was sinking in loam
Soon the ring of its lyre would cease
The violence of plants made us reel
A crow—gloomy rower—veering from the fleet
On the quartered noon of silent flint
Beat time with tender wings for our detente
Nowhere were signs of the sickle
Our rarity ushered in a new reign
(Insomniac wind that ripples the lids of our eyes
While turning each night the consenting page
Desires each part of you I retain
Be deployed to a land of famished age and towering dripstone)

This at the start of endearing years
I recall the earth loved us a little.


I was ten.  I was set in the waves of the Sorgue like a gem.

The sun crowed the hours on the water's wise dial. Grief

and insouciance, bracing each other, had sealed the rooster-

shaped vane on the roofs of homes. But what wheel in the

wary child's heart turned harder and faster than that of the

mill, churning its white fire?


For native land, grapes can claim

The hands of the girl who culls

What grows, but who is waiting for her

Past the heartless vine's narrow path?

Rosary made by each cluster;

Topmost fruit, setting, bleeds

One final spark at dusk.


No forest can ever be great

Without age and the infinite.

Do not die too quickly, friends

Of picnics under the hail.

Pines, you who box our sleep,

Immortalize our footprints in the grass.

Alsace, 1939


I loved you. I loved your face — spring fluted by high winds

and rain — and the cipher made by your mouth sealing my kiss.

Some put their faith in perfectly round illusions. For me, just

going will do. From despair I brought back so small a basket,

my love, they wove it from willow.


I was roaming the knolls of a scoured land, through secret breaths

and plants with no past. The mountain rose up — shadow-filled

flask briefly embraced by the gesture of thirst. My existence, all

traces of me, were slipping away. Your face, looking back, was

gliding ahead, a speck in search of the bee to inspire a bloom

and charm it alive. We were going to separate. You would remain

on the perfumed ridge and I would sink below, into the garden

of rift. There, under cover of rocks and in lavish wind, I would

gift my sleep to the one true night to deepen your bliss. And all

fruits would be yours to claim.

Rene Char & Pablo Picasso 1965


I have recognized death — fugal and measured — inside a rock,

and the open bed of its little assistants beneath the shade of

a fig tree. No sign of the one who cuts stone; each of earth's

mornings would open its wings at the foot of night's steps.

Without refrain, freed of mortal dread, I dig in the air my

grave and my return.


Rene Char
from Stone Lyre
translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson
(Tupelo Press 2010)