Yves Bonnefoy Poems

Hit Title Date Added
Passer-By, These Are Words

Passer-by, these are words. But instead of reading
I want you to listen: to this frail
Voice like that of letters eaten by grass.

The house where I was born (01)

I woke up, it was the house where I was born,
Sea foam splashed against the rock,
Not a single bird, only the wind to open and close the wave,
Everywhere on the horizon the smell of ashes,
As if the hills were hiding a fire
That somewhere else was burning up a universe.
I went onto the veranda, the table was set,
The water knocked against the legs of the table, the sideboard.
And yet she had to come in, the faceless one,
The one I knew was shaking the door
In the hall, near the darkened staircase, but in vain,
So high had the water already risen in the room.
I took the handle, it was hard to turn,
I could almost hear the noises of the other shore,
The laughter of the children playing in the tall grass,
The games of the others, always the others, in their joy.

The house where I was born (02)

I woke up, it was the house where I was born.
It was raining softly in all the rooms,
I went from one to another, looking at
The water that shone on the mirrors
Piled up everywhere, some broken or even
Pushed between the furniture and the walls.
It was from these reflections that sometimes a face
Would emerge, laughing, of a gentleness
That was different from what the world is.
And, with a hesitant hand, I touched in the image
The tossled hair of the goddess,
Beneath the veil of the water
I could see the sad, distracted face of a little girl.
Bewilderment between being and not being,
Hand that is reluctant to touch the mist,
Then I listened as the laughter faded away
In the halls of the empty house.
Here nothing but forever the gift of the dream,
The outstretched hand that does not cross
The fast flowing water where memories vanish.

The house where I was born (03)

I woke up, it was the house where I was born,
It was night, trees were crowding
On all sides around our door,
I was alone on the doorstep in the cold wind,
No, not alone, for two huge beings
Were speaking to each other above me, through me.
One, behind, an old woman, stooped, mean,
The other standing upright outside like a lamp,
Beautiful, holding the cup that had been offered her,
Drinking greedily to calm her thirst.
Did I think to mock her, surely not,
Rather I let out a cry of love
But with the strangeness of despair,
And the poison ran throughout my body,
Ceres, mocked, broke the one who loved her.
Thus speaks the life walled up in life today.

The house where I was born (04)

Another time.
It was still night. Water slid
Silently on the black ground,
And I knew that my only task would be
To remember, and I laughed,
I bent down, I took from the mud
A pile of branches and leaves,
I lifted up the whole dripping mass
In arms I held close to my heart.
What to do with this wood where
The sound of color rose from so much absence,
It hardly mattered, I went in haste, looking for
At least some kind of shed, beneath the load
Of branches that were full of
Rough edges, stabbing pains, points, cries.

And voices that cast shadows on the road,
Or called to me, and, my heart beating fast,
I turned around to face the empty road.


Yesterday again
The clouds were passing
At the far dark end of the room.
But just now the mirror is empty.

The untangling of the sky.


Five o'clock. Snow again. I hear voices
In the front of the world.

A plough
Like a moon in the third quarter
Shines, but the night
Covers it with a layer of snow.

And this child
Has the whole house to himself, from now on. He goes
From one window to another. He presses
His fingers against the glass. He sees
Drops form where he stops
Pushing the mist towards the falling sky.


This snowflake
That alights on my hand, I wish
To fix it as eternal
In making of my life, my heat,
My past, these present days,
Simply a moment, this very moment, limitless.

But already it is only
A little bit of water getting lost
In the mist of the flakes going into the snow.


Fleeting on the scarf, on the glove
Like this illusion, the poppy,
In the hand that dreamed, last summer
On the road among the dry stones,
That the absolute is within reach of the world.

However, what promise
In the delicate touch of this water, for it was,
For an instant, the light! The summer sky
Has hardly any clouds to half open
A brighter way under dark vaults.

Under her pergola of shadows, the visionary,
Had no redder fruit.


All, now,
Nice and warm
Under your light cloak,
Almost nothing but mist and embroidery,
Madonna of mercy of the snow.

Against your body
Beings and things
Sleep, naked, and your fingers
Shade those closed eyelids from their light.

Error Success