Vermilion by Rene Char

translated by Lawrence Prett


                                    Response to a painter.

Whether she comes, as mistress, to your beckoning stair,
Or whether she calls out of the forest’s fog;
Whether she be in her room, knowing and pursued,
Wedded to her window, flame unnoticed;
Her hand, splitting the sea and caressing your fingers,
Moves from the permanence born of summer.

I hear you sing, the storm and the night,
From the iron walls the stones of Agrigento.

Maker, what frustration to be unable to draw from her beggar’s cave
The source, that is our own.




Réponse à un peintre.


Qu’elle vienne, maitresse, a ta marche inclinee,
Ou qu’elle appelle de la brume du bois;
Qu’en sa chambre elle soit prevenue et suivie,
Epouse a son carreau, fusee inapercue;
Sa main, fendant la mer et caressant tes doigts,
Deplace de l’ete la borne invariable.

La tempete et la nuit font chanter, je l’entnends,
Dans le fer de tes murs la galet d’Agrigente.

Fontainier, quel depit de ne pouvoir tirer de son caveau mesquin
La source, notre endroit!