Poetry by Alain Suied

From Le Pays Perdu



The light which traverses us, has it burned
the casing of a diamond,
the trace of a memory,
useless bark
or the living fruit?
Can it transmit
the contours and warmth
of forgotten moments
or the tears of our
vanished shadows?
The light which
pierces us
beats at the heart
of an amorous star.



In your gaze there are
generations of pain,
storerooms of silence,
a wolf’s hunger.
In your gaze there is
the language-less cry
of a wounded child.
In your gaze there is the
dark center of our renunciations.
In your gaze there is
a forgotten birth.
In your gaze there is
the trace of endlessness,
the secret form of that
which is not,
the patience of light.



The world breaths and waits
while the nudity
of the poem’s being
unveils itself.
You must act, you must respond
to the earth which ties the trees
to the river in flight from their summits.
You must choose to love nothing
other than the inward truth
of beings, never their faceless masks.
The world breaths and waits
while you set in motion and reveal
the poem’s rainbow.

From Face au mur de la loi


The Reign of the Heart

Still warm, lace
marked your skin
with an unknown sign.

It was like the naked flight
of a bird’s wings
upon a sparkling green sky.


[Human society has perhaps betrayed language]

Human society has perhaps betrayed language.
But wrapped in love
some men and women can
give to others
a gift received in childhood:
the golden stream of a warm gaze,
the precious stones of laughter,
the secret alchemy of dreams.

Human society has perhaps lost the message
of existence.
But seized by its ambiguities
some men and women compose anew
a cry shattered against the wall of the Infinite
the first cry
the animal cry of death
where language exhausts itself.

From Actes de presence



All my other lives surmount
the wall around my slumber:
if I open my eyes
I recognize them.
They have the diffuse form
of my impossible meetings
of my unforseen delays.
They have the uncertain horizon
of my renunciations
of my forgotten dreams.
They know how to trace
a melancholy sign
in order to draw me towards their mirage.
They know how to efface themselves
and return to nothingness
if I take but one step towards their image.

All my other lives
surmount the wall around my awakening:
if I open my eyes
they know how to disappear.
They have the indistinct form
of my interrupted elan,
of my involuntary silence.
They have the fluid horizon
of my lost wanderings,
of my aborted dreams.
They know how to foreshadow
my tragic sigh
in order to propel me in their wake.
They know how to impose themselves,
bringing me back my abyss
if I make but one motion towards their visage.


Alain Suied

Alain Suied was born in 1951 in Tunis where his family could trace many generations of ancestry, perhaps going back to the Iberian expulsion or even earlier. His family immigrated to Paris in 1959.  Suied attended the Lycee Henri IV, and when he was 17 the poet Andre du Bouchet read some of his poems, liked them a great deal, and had several published in the prestigious review L'Ephemere. This immediately led to the publication in 1970 of Suied's first volume of poems, Le Silence, followed three years later by C'est la langue. Over the next four decades Suied brought forth 21 more books of poetry always sparkling, sagacious, and fresh, and always sounding the innermost vibratos of our living, our affections, our truths. Notable works include L'Influence invisible (1985); Sur les ailes du devenir (1987); La lumiere de l'origine (l988)which won the Verlaine Prize; Le corps parle (1989); Face au mur de la loi (1991); Ce qui ecoute en nous (1993); Le premier regard (1995)which won the Charles Vildrac Prize; Le pays perdu (1997);  L'Ouvert, L'Imprononcable (1998); Rester humain (2001); L'Eveillee (2004); Laisser Partir (2007); and Sur le seuil invisible (2013), a posthumous collection featuring the poems written in his last year.

Erudite in many fields including music, and a wise reader of the philosophers of the Frankfurt School and thinkers in the psychoanalytic tradition, Suied wrote superb essays on poetics, including the essays on kindred poet Paul Celan that were collected in Kaddish pour Paul Celan (1989). Moreover, Suied was an award-winning translator of English-language poetry, including works by Thomas, Blake, Keats, Pound, Updike, Faulkner, and Muir.

Steve Light

Steve Light, a basketball point guard following upon Nate Archibald, Pete Maravich, and Willie Somerset--and akin as well to Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and Earl Boykins--is also a philosopher and poet. His translations from the Italian and Friulian of Pasolini, Solmi, Saba, and Ungaretti, the French of Jean-Baptiste Para and Alain Suied, and the German of Rilke, have appeared in reviews in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. His translation of French philosopher Jean Grenier's volume of lyrical essays, Les Iles (Islands: Lyrical Essays), appeared in 2005. His own writings have been published in the U.S., Jamaica, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Japan, France, Russia, Turkey, and Italy.

Copyright (c) Editions Arfuyen, 1991, 1997, 1999. English translation copyright (c) Steve Light, 2015.