HOPKINS FOREST Poem by Yves Bonnefoy


Rating: 4.5

I had gone out
To get some water at the well by the trees,
And I was in the presence of another sky.
Disappeared was the constellations of a moment before,
Three quarters of the firmament was empty,
The most intense black reigned there alone,
But to the left, above the horizon,
Mixed with the top of the oaks,
There was a cluster of glowing stars
Like a blazing fire, from which even a cloud of smoke rose.

I went back in
And I re-opened the book on the table.
Page after page,
There were only indecipherable marks,
Aggregates of forms with no meaning
Although vaguely recurring,
And underneath a bottomless whiteness
As though what one calls the mind fell there, noiselessly,
Like snow.
I nevertheless turned the pages.

Many years before
In a train at the moment of daybreak
Between Princeton Junction and Newark,
That is, two accidental places for me.
Two arrows fallen to earth from nowhere,
The travellers were reading, silent
In the snow that was sweeping across the grey windows,
And suddenly,
In an open newspaper a couple of feet away from me,
A big photograph of Baudelaire,
A whole page
As the sky empties at the end of the world
To agree to the disorder of the words.

I drew together this dream and the memory
When I walked, first all one autumn
In woods where soon it was the snow
That triumphed, in many of those signs
That we receive, contradictorily,
From the world devastated by language.
The conflict of two principles came to an end,
It seemed to me, two lights mingled,
The edges of the wound healed.
The white mass of cold fell in bursts

Onto colour, but a roof in the distance, a painted
Plank leaning against a railing,
It was still colour, and mysterious,
Like one who would emerge from the tomb and, cheerful:
‘No, don't touch me,' he would say to the world.

I really owe a lot to Hopkins Forest,
I keep it on my horizon, in its part
That abandons the visible for the invisible
By the quivering of the blue of the distance.
I listen to it, through the noises, and sometimes even,
In the summer, scuffing the dead leaves
Of other years, vivid in the half-light
Of the oak trees that are too dense among the stones,
I stop, I think that this ground opens
To the infinite, that these leaves fall there
Without haste, or else go back up, the high, the low
No longer being, nor the noise, except the light
Whisper of the flakes that soon
Increase, get closer, join together,
- And then I see again all the other sky,
I enter for an instant into the big snow.

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