VAIN PRAYER TO THE ELEMENTS
Dust, dust of the oceans, first handkerchief above the wave, call
to the free cloud. . .
The cloud suddenly falls as a block of stone.
Dust, rock dust, into this rock. I will plant my freedom, into this
rock now scattered to the wind.
The burning sand eats our foreheads, simoon of flames.
Smoke, smoke from the burning of bodies, smoke full of illu-
sions, in you I will plant my fancy.
Smoke returns to the ocean, flask of dirty water where a hunch-
back Venus scoffs at hope through her satisfied teeth.
The Overlook Press 1990
translated from the French by Kelton W. Knight
"Rene Daumal was born in 1908 in Boulzicourt, a small town near
the Ardenne mountains. He would die in Paris just thirty-six years
later. Most of the intervening years were spent questioning the implications
of that birth and impending death and the authenticity of the
man they represented."