Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Valery Larbaud - "the gift of oneself"

i offer myself to each as his reward; 
here it is, even before you deserved it.
there is something in me,
in the deepest part of me, at the center of me, 
something infinitely barren 
like the tops of the highest mountains;
something comparable to the blind spot in the retina,
and with no echo, 
and yet which sees and hears; 
a being with a life of it's own, which nonetheless 
lives my whole life, and listens, impassive, 
to all the chitchat of my consciousness.

a being made of nothing, if that's possible, 
insensitive to my physical suffering,
that doesn't weep when i weep,
that doesn't laugh when i laugh, 
that doesn't blush when i do something shameful,
and that doesn't moan when my heart is aching;
that doesn't make a move and gives no advice,
but seems to say eternally: "i'm here, indifferent to everything."

maybe it is as empty as emptiness is, 
but so big that good and evil together do not fill it.
where hatred dies of suffocation and the greatest love never penetrates.

so take all of me: the meaning of these poems, 
not what can be read, but what comes across in spite of me:
take, take, you have nothing. 
wherever i go, in the whole world, 
i always meet, 
around me as in me, 
the unfillable void,
the unconquerable nothing.

— " the gift of oneself" by valery larbaud
translated from the french by ron padgett & bill zavatsky
for the random house book of twentieth century french poetry

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