Around the Void

I

*

the void here conquered
by a void more
vast and more
lucid and full
launches its long
inhabited flight

*

as little
by little arises
into the eyes
of the child
sight

*

I’m used to seeing
through the gaps
in the iron railing
to listening against
the walls and the ground
to being the crystal
that encloses
the invisible

*

in the air with no
place or language
the absent words
of things

lean upon
the voice

*

whether I leave
for the most distant
land

whether I lose
the closest
image

I forsake
not the same
window

*

regularly
the circuit
that carries me off
prepares
for the final
race

*

again and again
I disengage myself

from the reflection
that the glass
hides

*

laying out
the cards
on the table

turning over
the changed
faces

*

a figure
on each
sheet

betokens
the number
of days

*

indecipherable signs
anemic bells
syllables dividing
the reflections from the surface
condemned to float
while the silent
breath of the gods
confirms the clear
assembled horizon

II

*

someone is measured
by the mask of day

a day that plays
with the night

a wavering game
crossed by irons
traversing the double
void

*

a fleeting
accidental trait

delivers
the subject
from the model

*

I can depart

my quest
is achieved

my lips
know
the name

*

the sidereal
trajectory
maintains
the initial
path

*

the steps attempt
to overtake
to interrupt
to correct
the resurgent
traces

*

as much as
the mark
is raised

tilts
the summit

*

a naked note
questions
the silent
ceiling

*

death takes place

because it
cuts the thread
of desire

*

a tornado from
nowhere
will tear up the roof
steal away the ground
shatter the hour
high southern
window

*

when the tongue reaches me
whose shore I fathom
from the other side of life
a magnetic expanse
unfurling the immensity
brings back to my eyes
the narrow band of sky
rustling over the alley
that leads to the house
of memory where
I wish to die

Bios

Silvia Baron Supervielle

Born in 1934 in Buenos Aires, Silvia Baron Supervielle is the descendant of French and Spanish immigrants to Uruguay and Argentina.¬† Raised largely by her paternal grandmother, who was first cousin to the Uruguayan-born French poet Jules Supervielle, she did not see herself as a writer until long after she settled in Paris in 1961–a move she regards as a mysterious process and which she considers a sort of return corresponding to the earlier migration of her ancestors.

Though her native tongue is Spanish, since the late 1960s she has written nearly all her work in French. Eventually, Hector Bianciotti brought her poems to Maurice Nadeau, who first published her in Les Lettres Nouvelles. Most of her writing–which includes many works of fiction and essays–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 became a translator as well; in this way Argentine poets she felt close to (Alejandra Pizarnik, Borges, Silvina Ocampo, Macedonio Fern√°ndez, Roberto Juarroz) might accompany her into French.

Jason Weiss

Jason Weiss is a writer, editor, and translator. Born and raised at the Jersey shore, schooled in Berkeley, he spent the decade of the 1980s in Paris and has lived in Brooklyn ever since. He has written extensively on literature and music, and published five books, most recently Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America (2012). Silvina Ocampo, his translation of the Argentine writer's selected poems, will soon be published by New York Review Books.

Autour du vide. Copyright (c) Arfuyen, Paris, 2008. English translation copyright (c) Jason Weiss, 2014.