29 January, 2008

A Joint Publication of Leafe Press and Bamboo Books

The Beginning
And End
Of The Snow

Yves Bonnefoy

translated by Alan Baker

28 January, 2008

more Life Sentences (Monologue For Chorus)

I would to heav’n mine ear were free e’en now of those complaints.
I entertain no hope.
I rather wish, that I might home retire, after my suff’rance of a world of woes.
I love my quiet well.
I lose thee quite.
I mean you all the good will in the world.
I can save you, free you from that great danger.
I scorn them all.
I am so glutted with resentment that I ache.
I shall live forever with my tears.
I have been true to what she gave to me.
I know that you have cares enough other than those of me and mine.
I am completely and beautifully drunk.
I lay still, you gave me caressing kisses.
I intend to conduct my life with more order.
I call out to the heart at once.
I was watching the air and never saw what was right on the ground in front of me.
I love love’s delicacy.
I can’t finish my weaving.
I abandon your gifts.
I am trying to think of something to tell them, some enormous concept that will knock them silly.
I can not help my dread.
I tried to suppress my mad feelings.
I am pure and will be cared for only by the pure.
I am surprised, then, by those who have drawn the boundaries and made the divisions.
I wonder not at their boldness, yet I wonder at their folly.
I feel the dread, and the sun burns in me, burns like a fever.
I swear, my soul so sad a farewell could not bear.
I took fright, and some unfriendly power, I know not what, stole all my addled wits.
I assure you it is at once squalid & unattractive.
I turn to you, appeal to your generous heart.
I am the hero, of whose deeds you’ve no doubt heard.
I doe confesse I owe my life in deede.
I would deny thee nothing.
I will do my best endeavor to show myself.
I saw no man that took my learning from me.
I cannot sufficiently admire and wonder at the careful industry and diligence of our ancients beforetime, which they employed in consideration of Nature’s works, searching as they did into every secret, and left nothing behind them unassayed and untried.
I think I do wander upon a sacred landscape.
I will not be a hindrance to myself.
I should explain, in a few words, the nature and limits of my general plan.
I must not conceal a piece of ancient scandal.
I am pleased to transcribe the style and sense.
I say not whether counterfeit or true.
I was free born, I live and will die free, before these feet be fetter’d in a chain.
I was on the outer edge of the valley of the sorrowful abyss which echoes with infinite lamentation.
I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost.
I therefore bear this load among the dead.
I, counter to my desire, do well not to demand.
I remember that never more shall I behold the lady for whom I go thus sorrowing.
I spoke silently with myself, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’
I wished to say, only the voice came not as I had meant: “Thy arms about me fold.”
I like my readers to be of serene and happy mind.
I give my penne a fulle stop.
I was weeping.
I touch the mighty theme; for to describe the depth of all the universe, is no emprize to jest with, and demands a tongue not us’d to infant babbling.
I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind.
I wish the seeds of the several arguments to be cast up into some brief and acute sentences.
I will offer up my daily sacrifice of sighs and tears.
I learned to know that love is eloquence.
I would be in love with peace.
I neither thought the Sun, Nor Moon, nor Stars, nor People, mine, tho they did round about me shine; and therefore was I quite undon.
I pardon your distrust, and prize your love, even when it is unjust.
I should not say he were in an Errour; but that his words were without meaning; that is to say, Absurd.
I was a fool that I did not try to do it before.
I swear I use no art at all.
I speak no more than truth.
I shiver at the thought.
I remembered all this.
I address myself to the good sense of my readers, and to that alone: if they want a buffoon, or a whining parasite, I am not their man.
I am not in an humour at present, to give accounts and reckonings of that affair; for, I feel a certain faintishness in my stomach, and if I don’t recruit it with a couple of draughts of old stingo, I shall be in most grievous taking.
I didn’t know what to think or what to do, and obviously I was going from bad to worse.
I have sigh’d all in vain.
I travel with a glorious mischief.
I feel I shall owe you a debt that I never can hope to repay.
I grant that poetry’s a crying sin.
I saw the lady without emotion, and parted without reluctance.
I sung of chaos and eternal Night.
I see what I can do or offer is suspect.
I will tell you now what never yet was heard in tale or song.
I confesse that it is a great comfort to our friends, to have it said, that wee ended well.
I malice no man under the sunne.
I hated life and cursed destiny.
I am of the poet’s mind, love doth bewitch and strangely change us.
I would examine the true seat of the terrestrial paradise.
I may not here omit those two main plagues and common dotages of human kind, wine and women, which have infatuated and besotted myriads of people: they go commonly together.
I will just add, that a sentence , used as a term in grammar, means one of those portions of words which are divided from the rest by a single dot, which is called a period.
I am but a traveller.
I never like to disappoint anybody.
I rode a little pony, and remember how proud I was on the occasion.
I do not think I could live in the country.
I am free from jealousy or fear.
I am far from defending my own conduct.
I betray’d my selfe.
I intend nothing less than imposing upon you a task of piety.
I was at no loss for language.
I raised a marble canopy that reached quite up to the top of the arch, and I painted it too as fair as I could, and carved it all about with many flowers and histories, and in them I carved the faces of those I had known on earth.
I was very lonely all night.
I, almost overcome with drink, went to bed.
I walked in the garden.
I am resolved to fall hard to work again, as I used to do.
I fear the worst.
I am most heartily sorry.
I was fit for nothing.
I was infinitely pleased.
I was never more pleased anywhere.

25 January, 2008

from Life Sentences (Monologue For Chorus)

I am unable to do anything about the fact that this may exceed the limits of credibility.
I have relied, above all, on the gifts of fate, always challenging them to accentuate the power of my imagination and the generosity of my heart.
I had not yet understood that a myth is preeminently a reality, a requirement of the mind, that it is the path and the vehicle of consciousness.
I agree to go on living.
I found myself recalling how in childhood an imitation mahogany panel opposite my bed had served as an optical excitant of a somnolence vision.
I believe that art is the only form of activity in which man as man shows himself to be a true individual.
I like living, breathing, better than working.
I wish the entire world were made of pieces interchangeable among all puzzles.
I was filled with an extraordinary intense sensation of universal glory.
I shall establish that, even in his smallest actions, man obeys the great sexual rhythms of the universe.
I never expected to hear such words from you.
I wish I could multiply and divide myself, so as to be everywhere at once.
I have never pretended to be above the human condition.
I make a systematic defense of the societies destroyed by imperialism.
I willingly submitted to these fantasies.
I was from that moment no more than a wasteland.
I am not someone who revises his work.
I obviously cannot speak with complete freedom.
I will have to make rather extensive use of quotations – never, I believe, to lend authority to a particular argument, but only to show fully of what stuff this adventure and myself are made.
I will tell what I have loved; and, in this light, everything else will become evident and make itself well enough understood.
I should like very much to handle the sword.
I close one eye, always the left, when looking out into the glare of the street.
I’m not ready to smile about that.
I swear to thee, that many times heretofore I have perceived, and found in my Codpiece a certain kind of Energy, or efficacious Vertue, much more irregular, and of a greater Anomaly, then what I have related.
I am hungry right out in the street.
I can’t stand it anymore. I must speak to you.
I stared at her so intently that she turned her head towards me and then suddenly lowered her eyes.
I can not see those tears flow again.
I can feel my heart whispering.
I walk with more confidence when I can see my own shadow, just as I walk better when someone is alongside me.
I am going to die in your arms, more fortunate in my death than I have been in my life.
I was planning a ‘drainpipe ballet’ inspired by the drainpipes of Leningrad which are the largest I have ever seen.
I have known men and women of the world who did not seek an exchange of feelings but an exchange of behavior.
I had endured my wretchedness with a quiet mind because it was mixed with neither fear nor hope.
I could give you an explanation that no one has dreamed of, not only of the past but of the future.
I had realized before now that it is only a clumsy and erroneous form of perception which places everything in the object, when really everything is in the mind.
I have mortified my flesh and practiced hard penances
I have lived like a fool and wasted my time
I have to confess that I maintained this boundless confidence in my potential for quite a long time.
I go where I feel like going.
I cannot see how I could possibly be reproached for making people listen to lascivious music.
I recall quite well this period of experimentation which I passed through in a special way thanks to a personal creative method: “doubts,” “partial certainties,” “perplexities,” “disenchantments,” “discoveries,” “assurances;” in summary all those states of mind defined by an outmoded vocabulary.
I am filled with despair and disgust, I am filled with murderous fantasies, whenever I permit myself to stop and think for more than a few minutes at a time.
I onely stayd one night, having no Company there save my Pipe.
I had a violent fever that was like to have carried me off.
I have been in danger of being drowned twice.
I haue without good help daunst my selfe out of the world.
I told you I doubted much.
I relate the History of my life, the occurrences of my days, the escapes of dangers, and hits of chance.
I discover an arrant Lazinesse in my Soul.
I missed of what I did then desire.
I have, upon occasion of a sudden distemper, sometimes a mad man, sometimes a fool, sometimes a melancholy odd fellow to deal withal; I mean myself, for I have the humours within me that belong to all three.
I would like to mention our own attitude towards the exploration of these twilight souls.
I had come to the conclusion that birth pain was the key to mother love.
I had an excuse, all the same.
I live by day full of faith and courage and perish by night in holy fire.
I made my way defenseless and amazed.
I visited the chapel I saw peeping out of the village’s still shrubbery.
I call that man an outcast, who is denied the protection of the laws.
I believe that many a great speaker did not yet know at the moment he opened his mouth what he was going to say.
I did have fright and terror in my soul.
I have been wounded deep inside, I feel it, and as a man disarmed, in every sense, I lay myself before your little feet.
I deny myself the pleasure of being with you.
I asked her would she and she answered yes.
I don’t have enough hair to cover your denuded mound of Venus.
I was riding the earth like a wild horse; it was careening breathlessly along and I, with gigantic limbs, clung to its mane and flanks.
I might even say that I’m the third and most remarkable of the pair, only I don’t know who I am – which by the way shouldn’t surprise anybody, as I haven’t the remotest idea what I’m talking about, indeed I don’t even know that I don’t know, which makes it highly probable that somebody else is doing the talking and I’m only an arrangement of pipes and bellows.
I know longer know what to say.
I was always at ease when I watched her or when she leaned her head on me that way.
I had broken the bond of birth – the fetters of light.
I will row you well.
I, however, inwardly repelled by so many importunate glances turned on me, bemused by the dream-like sensation of being in a highly vulnerable and defenceless position, seemed to myself to be alone, cut off from every relationship, nameless, ageless, floating free and pure in empty space, a sensation I have preserved in memory as not only not disagreeable but actually precious.
I shall accompany you, I shall stand at your side.
I never in my life thought that such a totally hideous, filthy feeling could even exist, except perhaps in hell.
I would warn you not to feel all too sure of me.
I have not ceased to feel troubled about her since I lost her.
I, and other people like me, work hard all our lives to swindle our consciences into feeling pleased and satisfied.
I give the information for what it may be worth.
I cannot, I will not endure it.
I could hear nothing but my own steps and the murmur of fountains.
I have no idea why it should be that of late all the life has been drained from the time we spend together and the looks we exchange.
I am entirely transposed into time; it irradiates me.
I was far from appreciating the extent of my ineptitude.
I speak in the name of many people.
I should like now to propose to you a more immediate question, a question that is somewhat more modest, somewhat less far-reaching, but that has, it seems to me, more chance of receiving an answer.
I turn my eyes ever to the ground.
I want to say something about stone.
I am but a man.
I have grown.
I saw this vision in my sleep.
I think.
I myself have seen it sodden with rain and looking like the mud of a slaughter-house, a swamp of blood.
I should like to express my gratitude.
I have spent endless profitable and pleasurable hours.
I cry Love! Love! Love! happy happy Love!
I trembled in my virgin fears.
I see these lineaments of ungratified desire.
I converse daily and hourly in the spirit.
I feel certain that what I shall see there in a garden of tones and colors more than of flowers is a garden less the old florist garden than a colorist garden, if I may call it that, of flowers arranged in a whole that is not entirely that of nature, since they have been planted in such a way that only those flowers blossom together whose shades match, harmonize infinitely in a blue or pink expanse, and which this powerfully revealed intention on the part of the painter has dematerialized, in a way, from all that is not color.
I recognized just as clearly that she was furious, and not at all the relaxed voluptuous beauty, often undressed, whom I remembered.
I have adhered closely to chronological order in laying out the catalog.
I have thought of making an anaglyph (red and green) apropos of a Spanish chimney.
I would dream of a far-off grassy plain that nobody had yet explored.
I avoided artistic movements.
I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body.
I think, for example, of how my first reading of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, seized me with a joy and a faith in literature again.
I was inescapably taken by the profound dimension added by the simple notion of making street garments transparent.
I raise my hand and hail the eternal human law.
I have no right to sleep in the comfort of darkness.
I was told that a translation had been made for English readers, but that it was so full of obscenities that it could not be printed.
I take no chances.
I was curious as to whether the words had a meaning.
I listened to calls to the station houses about peeping Toms on the rooftops and fire escapes of nurses’ dormitories.
I never quite understood it.
I wanted to see.
I am not a visual person.
I try to write the most embarrassing thing I can think of.
I cannot see how we could do anything more important than to be interested in the education of our feelings.
I have a knowledge of things that can’t be found.
I became concerned with the paradox of romantic fantasy and harsher reality.
I made my luck.
I myself do not know what this means.
I used to worry about being like this.
I pored over each line, each word.
I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse.
I am my world.
I have a shadow of the sensation of pain.
I would like it if some day you were able to read what I am writing now.
I have been thinking so intensely and so exclusively of this figment of my brain, that I cannot now expel it.
I believe that this will enable us to come very close to an understanding of paranoia.
I cannot thwart you.
I am angry, with an anger that has no beginning and no end.
I muse on what horrible things might still happen tonight.
I was not informed, it is not my fault.
I don’t want to pry into secrets.
I barely know what I have been telling you.
I wouldn’t mind being a lift-boy.
I am witnessing your incomprehensible stubbornness.
I was unable to think of any answer to your question, partly for the very reason that I am afraid of you, and partly because an explanation of the grounds for this fear would mean going into far more details than I could even approximately keep in mind while talking.
I will no longer mutilate and destroy myself.
I began having a great many dreams again as I had done during my childhood.
I should not have had that fear of death when I wished for it all the same.
I stood and listened, enchanted, and at the same time strangely moved.
I want to work, and show you what I really am, so that then you can judge for yourself if you think me worth saving from the gallows.
I already knew the answer, and that no change could be made in our relationship towards each other.
I fell in love with pretty, young girls, but what I felt was a kind of melancholy envy: it never went deep enough.
I have not forgotten the lexicon.
I could not help being just a little proud that some woman should love me.
I remembered my vows to be good.
I feel as if I spent all my years here asleep, happy enough, to be sure, but unconscious.
I write all these lines mostly in the evening, by the lamplight, at the big school table.
I stood there motionless, not understanding anything anymore.
I, too, without question, am trembling.
I will forget how strange I feel.
I felt as depressed as if cats were scratching my soul.
I had to find the magic bridges, all of them, myself.
I am trying in vain to see in my dream a city which I have never seen in my waking life.
I want nothing so much as for you to take me seriously.
I kissed her on the cheek, where a line of tears was flowing.
I felt on me the breath of a wide open space.
I do admire a lady who rides sidesaddle.
I did not therefore venture to air my sighs and to play the guitar until after the street had been abandoned and there were no longer any witnesses to my audacity.
I realized that all was lost, and that we were rapidly approaching what I feared most, the reign of insanity, total and complete.
I can tell my majestic colleagues who write for humanity, and in the name of humanity, that I have never written a single word other than for a selfish purpose; but each time, the work betrayed me and escaped from me.
I was glad that the room was warm with breath.
I am going away for a long while; and though, as you will allow, I’m by no means a very soft creature, it would be anything but cheerful for me to carry away with me the idea that you remember me with repugnance.
I went through the wearisome ritual of repeating everything I remembered from books and everything I had invented myself.
I punish myself and my life.
I have a venomous character, I confess, I confess!
I was simply incapable of dreaming for longer than three months at a time.
I awakened with a pounding heart.
I must explain my feelings to you, those that have guided me and those that will guide me, so that you will not be mistaken regarding me.
I was steadily walking down a mountain, and thinking I was climbing it.
I am afraid that my way of thinking in regard to the whole theory of the universe is so opposed to yours that we shall not understand one another.
I am now quite without hope in the world.
I am leaving this life with the consciousness that I have lost all that was given me.
I am rather tired but I will go on with it.
I read, but in the night my head is empty, there are some sort of shadows instead of thoughts.
I may say of myself now that the Evil One has led me astray.
I can’t gaze on either one of you indifferently.
I be you, I implore you, at least once in your life, out of curiosity, just as a surprise or a practical joke, gather your strength and suddenly think up something witty, brilliant, at least say something outrageous or obscene, so long as it’s funny and original.
I look at love first of all as a need of my organism.
I don’t have to run from anything because I don’t believe in anything.
I will act nobly with body, voice, and mind.
I made a mistake and let that scoundrel beguile me.
I dressed in your armor.
I want to enter that dream again.
I have a little trouble on my mind.
I have a letter of introduction, but first let’s have some wine.
I said we get our education in all manner of ways.

17 January, 2008



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07 January, 2008


Mental problems

It's a tough game
7 January 2007
Source: Marc Calcavecchia, as quoted by by Doug Ferguson