Translated by Mary Ann Caws
Once the grass, at the hour when the roads of earth were harmonious in their decline, lifted its blades tenderly and turned on its lights. The horsemen of the day were born in the look of their love and the castles of their beloveds contained as many windows as the abyss holds slight storms.
Once the grass knew a thousand devices not in contradiction. It was the providence of those faces bathed in tears. It enchanted the animals, lent shelter to error. Its expanse was comparable to the sky which has vanquished the fear of time and softened the suffering.
Once the grass was good to the madmen and hostile to the executioner. It was espousing the threshold of always. The games that it invented had wings to their smile (games absolved and just as fleeting). It was hard for none of those who, losing their way, hope to lose it forever.
Once the grass prescribed that night’s worth is less than its power, that springs don’t complicate their course for the fun of it, that seed kneeling down is already half in the bird’s beak. Once, earth and sky hated each other but earth and sky lived together.
The inexhaustible drought runs off. Man is a stranger to dawn. However , in pursuit of the life that can’t yet be imagined, there are wills vacillating, murmurs facing each other, and children safe and sound who are discovering.
René Char (1907-88) is one of the most important modern French poets.