André du Bouchet

Dawn Without Sun & Mist Gently Smothers Sight
July 19, 2019 du Bouchet André

André du Bouchet
Poems and Notebook Entries
A selection of new translations by Hoyt Rogers
For Plume


‘Dawn without sun…’

Dawn without sun
white straightaway.
From the cliff : an immense trampling of clouds suspended above the flow of the Seine. This white chain cracks open above the island like a needle’s eye.
Magical fields, like a beach of cuttlefish and kelp newly abandoned by the sea. Colors still preserved — sharp fishbones, lace of thistles bright as window-panes — awakening of yellow and purple dots before they’ve stirred.
At dawn : everything that’s worn becomes both new and worn. Worn objects — brand-new — not yet tired out by day — like the stones of the path that glow.

Here is the unending spring we’re steeped in as we sleep — that we can glimpse when we’re awakened toward the end of night : we catch sight of night’s mists.

The body of mist spreads underfoot like the trampling of clouds. The sun rises in our chest even before it appears on the room’s horizon; between the black casements, the black knoll standing out against the light, dawn plows us.
The head shoots up in its field, its tethers suddenly cut— it wouldn’t take much for us to crow like roosters.


‘Mist gently smothers sight…’

Mist gently smothers sight
reduced to the clear-cut circles of the bushes
and the path that hums.
Starting from the shoulder, the earth slopes on the trail and
rolls as powder through the air under the grass patch
above the tufts —

the sky hermetically white below.
above —
between two valves — we still cling —

The grass where the cows graze is tender and soft, like

André du Bouchet lived in France until 1941, when his family left occupied Europe for the U.S. After the war he returned to France, befriending the poets Pierre Reverdy, René Char, Francis Ponge and the artists Pierre Tal-Coat and Alberto Giacometti. In 1966, with Yves Bonnefoy, Jacques Dupin, Louis-René des Forêts, and Gaëton Picon, he founded the cultural review L’Ephémère. In 1961, du Bouchet’s first major poetry collection, Dans la chaleur vacante, was published to critical acclaim, and he won the Critic’s prize for that year. In 1983, he received the National Poetry Prize or “Prix national de la poésie”. André du Bouchet died in 2001 at the age of 76, in Truinas, Drôme.