Silvia Baron Supervielle, from Around the Void (2008)
   translated from the French by JASON WEISS


JASON WEISS has published several books, including The Lights of Home: A Century of Latin American Writers in Paris (2003) and Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America (forthcoming). He has also translated Luisa Futoransky's The Duration of the Voyage: selected poems (1997), from Spanish, and Marcel Cohen's stories, Mirrors (1998), from French.
These poems comprise the fourth of seven equal sections in Silvia Baron Supervielle's most recent book of poems, Autour du vide (Arfuyen, 2008; Around the Void).  Born and raised in Buenos Aires (her paternal grandmother was first cousin to the Uruguayan-born French poet Jules Supervielle), she settled in Paris in 1961 where she has lived ever since.  By the late 1960s she began to write in French; this change opened a new path for her, in the sense of obstacles posed by her adopted tongue, causing her to pare down her language (her poems are never longer than a page and always untitled). She published her first poems in the mid-1970s, in Maurice Nadeau's journal Les Lettres Nouvelles, and by now has published eight books of poetry, six of prose fiction, as well as several books of essays. Most of her writing involves an ongoing meditation on the passage from one shore to the other, from one language, one set of origins, to another. As part of her change of language, she also became a translator: in this way Argentine poets she felt close to (Alejandra Pizarnik, Borges, Silvina Ocampo, Macedonio Fernández, Roberto Juarroz) might accompany her into French; she has also translated Marguerite Yourcenar’s plays into Spanish.


une vague seule
s’élance le long
du vide

frappe le vent
qui heurte

propage le cri
convoité


a lone wave
bounds forth along
the void

slaps the knocking
wind

spreads the coveted
cry



des flammes
sans foyer
empêchent
la tombée
du jour


flames
without hearth
obstruct
the fall
of day



perdre la bataille
la main posée
sur la face
du rêve terminé
et de l’amour
vaincu


losing the battle
the hand at rest
on the face
of the finished dream
and of love
vanquished



les antennes
frémissantes
sur les toits
s’adressent
des messages
voilés


antennae
quivering
on the rooftops
exchange
veiled
messages



dans les caves
une pelle
sombre sonde
la possible
galerie


in the cellars
a somber
shovel sounds
the possible
gallery



la ligne indécise
sur l’eau invente
le verbe

entre crêtes
et creux crée
la distance
partagée


the indecisive line
upon the water invents
the verb

between crests
and craters creates
the distance
shared



ce n’est pas
moi qui
parle ou qui
ne parle
pas


it is not
I who
speak or who
does not
speak



la lumière
que diffuse
la vision
qui me hante
projette
l’infini


the light
diffused by
the vision
that haunts me
projects
the infinite


disparaître
dans le blanc
qui me lit

dans l’écran
qui me regarde

sur l’autel
du désir qui
m’attend


to disappear
into the white
that reads me

into the screen
that watches me

upon the altar
of desire that
awaits me


par égarement le vol
tourne dans la chambre
ébloui par les vitres
et par sursauts franchit
la fenêtre et se propulse
plus haut et plus loin
que les nuages arrêtés
et par échos descend
du nord au sud la mer
insonore en inclinant
sur la terre allongée
qui émerge son aile
au ras ouverte


off course the flock
flies about the room
dazzled by the glass
and by starts clears
the window and propels itself
higher and further
than the halted clouds
and by echoes descends
from north to south
the unsounding sea slanted
over the outstretched earth
nearly level its wing
opened wide