Home > Poetry > The Arrival of the Voyagers
Translated from the French by Ira Sadoff
Published: Wed Oct 15 1975
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 4 Home Aging Journeys
The Arrival of the Voyagers

Translated from the French by Ira Sadoff

They ran up at the first sign. Their enthusiasm scattered little varnished flags on the marble slabs of the summits. Alone, one indifferent…

By a miracle, the strongest became powerless. He mechanically rolled up the ribbons of his fingers with the branches of towers and distress, swore to be quiet, appreciated the cries of children, his hunger, his thirst and his money. In the spring he cultivated his own garden, armed with a vase…

In the asylum the old people, crying, embraced their companions in captivity, their lascivious brothers. With the house full of sable, the window broke and they had no one to close the shutters.

One still asks oneself who told them not to worry any longer about the rest.


Paul Éluard “revealed,” with Max Ernst, Les Malheurs des immortels, from which this poem is taken.

Ira Sadoff’s first book, Settling Down, will be issued by Houghton Mifflin this spring. (1975)

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Paul Éluard needs no introduction from us. (1975)


Ira Sadoff is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently True Faith (BOA Editions, 2012); a novel; a book of critical essays; and The Ira Sadoff Reader (Middlebury College Press, 1992), an anthology of stories, poems, and essays. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The New Yorker, AGNI, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he lives in Ulster County, New York. (updated 10/2018)

Sadoff’s AGNI poem “Self-Portrait with Critic” was chosen for The Best American Poetry 2002.

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