Edouard Glissant (1928-2011)

from: The Restless Earth
“Promenade of Solitary Death”

The sad boy has not moved
On a lake of roses, strewn
With pale bodies in the rosebushes
Funereal bay it has remained

The shore hesitates the sea passes
The boars are water scourers
Black is the sand, the color
Is evident in this place

The birds here cloak the murky sky
with the gray of their takeoffs
Such evidence has rendered mad
The first wave run aground

Waves from madness to madness
Pale and wan the others have followed
The rosebushes have kept the alms
Of suicides upon their surplice

The white race of frigate birds
Never comes to this repasts
They go to sound other death knells
Where the wind wears no gloves

Here there move only the flutter
Of memory and this high cry
That was heard one August noon
On the cliff and its flock

A cry of earth that deploys
The nervures of its foliage
Because love shall have searched it
Or because the rain is pleasing

A cry of woman torn open
At the edge of the fallows
Her nubile breasts divided
Between misery and moss

Cry of deadbolt and cry of osprey
And the people was asleep
The bird of prey makes its nest
Upon the living ash of the tree

And there still loves only milk
Of seaweeds this smell,
Death vivifies death
Funereal bay it has remained

But sad it has not moved
Upon its lake of hatreds, strewn
With pale bodies in the thickets
Who pardon you, O rosebushes.

translated by Jeff Humphries with Melissa Manolas
in: The Collected Poems of Edouard Glissant,
University of Minnesota Press 2005
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1 Response

  1. A great loss! I am teaching Glissant this week. Now I mourn.

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