By Pierre Chappuis

Translated by John Taylor

from Issue 21


“Are there two of us
or am I solitary”
-P. Éluard

      Everything, right now!

      Dizzying obsession with joy (choirs and brass instruments of May) until it turns into the ritornello of anguish.


      For the time being, breathtaking chilliness and transparency.
      To go, over random paths, like someone on the lookout for an echo, through the forest assailed by a thousand flame tips.

      These flying sparks! These songs blended with the eddies of solemn fleeting waters! These sparkles! These trills, a lofty turnstile whose streamers unfurl on treetops!

      Headed off like me onto forest roads, into other places perhaps (my breathing nonetheless to the same rhythm as his), who is this Other also prey to impatience, whose pulse I can all but hear beating?


      Today’s elation! Ah, on the lips of the wind (dead-nettle leaves and labials), mumbling on and on!

      Getting through shadow! These cold zones between two fits of tenderness, and these hot flashes during a solitary hike—simple and double—that is fervent, unbridled, unaware of the goal!

      May this hike neither end nor my thirst be quenched as long as (noon and its fanfares everywhere in the foliage), as long as all promises have not be kept.


      The Other, the unknown man—or woman—, he who I was perhaps, our paths stone-paved once again with the help of the same words.

Pierre Chappuis, was born in Tavannes (Canton Bern), Switzerland, in 1930. He is an essential French-language poet in a generation that includes Philippe Jaccottet, Yves Bonnefoy, André du Bouchet, Jacques Dupin, and Jacques Réda. His many published works include collections of critical essays, poetic prose, and poetry. Among his most recent books, all published by the Éditions José Corti, are Dans la foulée (2007), Comme un léger sommeil (2009), and Muettes emergences (2011). Distance aveugle (2000) and À la portée de la voix (2002), also brought out by Corti, are collections of short poetic prose. For his writing, he has won two prestigious Swiss literary prizes: the Schiller Prize in 1997 and the Grand Prix C.F. Ramuz in 2005. He lives in Neuchâtel.

John Taylor has recently translated books by Jacques Dupin (Of Flies and Monkeys, Bitter Oleander Press), Philippe Jaccottet (And, Nonetheless, Chelsea), and Pierre-Albert Jourdan (The Straw Sandals, Chelsea). His most recent collection of personal writings is If Night is Falling, published by the Bitter Oleander Press in 2012. He is also the author of the three-volume essay collection, Paths to Contemporary French Literature (Transaction), and Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction). Born in Des Moines in 1952, Taylor has lived in France since 1977.

Original text: Pierre Chappuis. Noir de l’été. Geneva: Éditions La Dogana, 2002.

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