André du Bouchet

This Surface
June 12, 2014 du Bouchet André

This Surface


Of the earth,

I know nothing but the surface.

I have embraced it.



I have made my brow

out of this destruction


the cold

the summer revolving on it


from the day


this frayed wall

like a tongue that rasps


before it falls.



The lamp

is a cold fire,

then the cold comes out in the darkness.


While the gusts of cold enter the room, I am

still prey to this step, everywhere I find the earth that comes before me and after me.



Warmer than I, the straw that envelopes our step emerging from the

earth    ―    our step like this dawning

in the body


of earth.



Translator: Paul Auster’s novels have won him numerous awards, as have his films, memoirs, essays, and poetry. But he is also an authority on French literature and a noted translator from the French. In 1982 he edited The Random House Book of Twentieth-Century French Poetry, and he has published translations of Joubert, Mallarmé, Sartre, Blanchot, Dupin, and many other authors. His translations of du Bouchet date from the years 1967-1971; they were first published in book form by Living Hand in 1976. He has revised them for a new edition: Openworks. Paul Auster lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Siri Hustvedt.

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.