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Translated from the French by Geoffrey Gardener
Published: Fri Oct 15 1976
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

Translated from the French by Geoffrey Gardener_

“This is a soul speaking,
Listen as hard as you can.
I used to be ashamed
Of my body that would come
Everywhere with me, wrapping
Me inside its clothed flesh.
I used to find it so gross
With its bones and its blood
That often I would curse it
Over land and over sea.
I dreamed of drowning it
In the depths of the river,
And now here I find myself
Kneeling without any knees
On the ground where it’s laid out,
Knowing nothing’s left to me
Of it but its memories
That, anxiously, come and go,
From the absence of my head
To the absence of my feet
Like a sorrowful tide
That would flow into the sea.
I am a bird in the air
Not knowing where to perch,
My only tree’s been felled
Even the ground is vanishing,
Agh! what kind of land is this
Where no one ever answers
Where no one knows how to listen
To a persuasive voice.”

See what's inside AGNI 5 and 6

Jules Supervielle was a French poet, dramatist, and short story writer born in Uruguay. His Selected Poems and Reflections on the Art of Poetry was published posthumously by Sun in 1986. (updated 6/2010)

Geoffrey Gardener’s poems and translations have appeared in Bleb, AGNI, Cottonwood Review, _New Letter_s, Skywriting, and APR. (1975)


AGNI has published the following translations:

Untitled by Jules Supervielle
Crews by Jules Supervielle
The Morning of the World by Jules Supervielle


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