Another Explanation of the Mystery

I can no longer see anything
in the sky but a large white dog
devouring the moon.
This dog is not a cloud.
If it doesn’t belong to anyone it will leave.
And day will return.
But what if this dog belongs to
that man who leans on the
mountain in order to watch and
mock us?
The moon pauses; night lingers.
We are on the verge
of going another round.

Poetry is in everything, everywhere, say those who, basically, are incapable of identifying where it actually is. But it is perfectly obvious that it is instead an absence, a lack in the human heart or more precisely what the poet has the gift of putting in place of this absence, of this lack. Real poetry is only where this void—which utterly cannot be filled by any other activity or real matter of life—has been filled.

http://pensum.ca/2011/08/306/

He is in good enough health to ponder death with serenity.

http://pensum.ca/2011/08/304/

to be simple

To be simple is not so simple.

Is poetry a lie?

Neither “lie” nor “truth” is the proper term to define Art or Poetry. Fiction is not a lie. Though it is not a true story, a fable is a true fable. Truth is not dependent upon reality. Reality however is always true, but the lie often trumps it. No one has ever been asked to believe that the dawn has rosy fingers. Yet to have said so has made the dawn more beautiful in the eyes of many people who have been unable to qualify such a statement. In art as in poetry, it is not a question of things being true—only that they are appropriate [juste]. It is this appropriateness [justesse] that makes them acceptable to the mind which, at any rate, needs to be shown things other than as they are and for which things stand out all the more when one, justifiably [avec justesses], describes them other than as they are. What stands out, what draws the attention is not the obvious. The mind easily grasps the obvious aspects of things, instead it is the unapparent that needs to be brought to light. For certain people reality quickly appears as a total con, a rather ingenious swindle, they clearly see that it is abundantly garnished with excellent and tasty treats which, however, they can neither reach nor taste. If they have nothing, they are consumed by desire; if they have everything, they don’t know what to do. For them nothing is simply available or ready for consumption. Between the world and such people there is a kind of refracting glass. They only need to place their hand on it for the object that they desire to appear elsewhere. Whereas all that they do succeed in acquiring turns to lead. Then, they begin to imagine and to enjoy fantasies ceaselessly sized and resized to their ever more convenient limits. On the other hand, because it is nothing more than the need and means to express oneself, art is a truth—assuming that it does not attempt to present itself as something other than it is—as a goal and not a means—if it does not try to fool us or to pull the wool over our eyes.

It is a question of knowing whether these things, which by an imperious need have been especially conceived and expressed, please you, touch you, move you or not. All the rest is on another plane—the one where putting into play entirely different kinds of forces and ruses has, for better or worse, immediate consequences that are inarguably less gratuitous. Nevertheless, like us, the poet is caught, indecisive and tempted, between the bitter, yet appetizing, lie of life and the sublime, but always somewhat hollow, truth of art.

(Les Cahiers du Journal des Poètes, No.70, November 15, 1939)

afterword from Flaques de verre

Among those things that are considered worthless and useless, poetry is quite certainly one of the most impressive. How explain that it is the very seam that man dreams of mining during the first stirrings of his impetuous youth? While on the other hand how contemplate without a sad smile the notion that one grows old while chewing on verse? Poets must be struck, with much more force than our loathsome generals, by the limits of age. There are far more vain things in life than these beauties which we once esteemed above all else. After having crossed, without weakening, the age of dreams, the age of the image and that of thoughts, one reaches the golden age then the stone age. Other people are now carefully labeled in folders and stuffed in boxes. These boxes are nailed shut, hermetically sealed, and shipped far away. They are loaded onto boats that set sail and a pale horizon snaps them up in its ambiguous smile. I no longer see the boats, I no longer see the people, I no longer see the boxes. I no longer see the poetry between the lines. It is no longer for me, it has never been for me in books. It drifts through the streets, in the sky, within the grimy studios, over the city. It floats majestically above this life which, occasionally, distorts it. And this sky, tempestuous and constantly changing, that is reflected on the barely sketched roads of the future, in the puddles, this sky that draws our hands towards it, this silky sky, caressed over and over like fine sheets–behind broken windows, poetry, free of words and ideas, is revealed.

(1929)

conversion

Conversion is a form of suicide. Except that it has the major advantage that one reaches the other side alive.

ambition

Being an artist is particularly dangerous because being one rarely goes without ambition and this ambition binds us to the earth not only while we are here, but also later, when we no longer exist. We intend to survive here, to still matter and shine, of course, whereas it is necessary to work to humble oneself and destroy all the bonds that tie us to this world.

We cannot claim to do so if we remain attached to a state that fatally stokes the desire to shine, to rise, to excel and persist both in this world and the next, after death has taken us.

an infinite wall

A mystery exists for believer and unbeliever alike, for earthly life is the same for them both. An infinite wall of which neither the ends nor the top nor the bottom can be seen.

Except, this wall, for the unbeliever, is an obstacle against which he vainly strikes his head.

While for the believer, it is a support, against which he leans to look back at life and ponder all its illogicality with more depth, power and certainty.

saints

Nothing is easier, when supported by a little grace, than to imitate a saint.

Once, a day, two weeks or six months. But throughout one’s entire life, without fail, that’s the stumbling-block. Yet that is what saints do. For saints imitate each other as well.

the mysterious power

There comes a time when one feels that people cannot do anything for you nor you for them, that is when one discovers the mysterious power of prayer.

the secret

The secret of religion, of faith is this: that man ceases to live on the illusion of his own power. That he sees his actual weakness and immediately another power arises within him, a true power, founded on reality and which will not fail him.

bowing

Some say, “You bow and you are on the side of those who want to lower themselves.” Yes, I bow, but I know that I am bowing and why.

That is the difference between me and you who bow without knowing it, who want to make others bow without realizing it and without knowing exactly why. All you offer them is the adventure. And we already know how all adventures end.

prayer

Prayer must go further than any request, praise or worship. It must include the offering of oneself. For to adore is to forget oneself and lose oneself within the beloved. And what is prayer if not an act of adoration?

unconfessable

Only confessing what is unconfessable has any benefit.

enslavement

You will always be a slave, if only due to this unruly and painful need to not be one.

***

He who believes himself to be free has simply not measured the length of his tether.

instinct

Do not confuse instincts with (obscure) desires.

***

Instinct is a hidden, unrevealed force, neither cloudy nor obscure.

It is reason that clouds instinct. In a being deprived of reason instinct is a firm and sure guide.

divorcing the world

When divorcing the world, one must assume all the blame.

the ladder of reason

Climbing the ladder of reason, I no longer believe in anything, especially reason.

heroism

There is a dreadful heroism, a rather difficult decision to make: to bear all that occurs without ever being a hero.

An adventure yarn in an unlit room.