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

a lone wave
bounds forth along
the void

slaps the knocking

spreads the coveted

des flammes
sans foyer
la tombée
du jour

without hearth
the fall
of day

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

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

les antennes
sur les toits
des messages

on the rooftops

dans les caves
une pelle
sombre sonde
la possible

in the cellars
a somber
shovel sounds
the possible

la ligne indécise
sur l’eau invente
le verbe

entre crêtes
et creux crée
la distance

the indecisive line
upon the water invents
the verb

between crests
and craters creates
the distance

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

it is not
I who
speak or who
does not

la lumière
que diffuse
la vision
qui me hante

the light
diffused by
the vision
that haunts me
the infinite

dans le blanc
qui me lit

dans l’écran
qui me regarde

sur l’autel
du désir qui

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