Bernard Noël (1930-2021): State of Air

Bernard Noël

States of Air
tr. Charles Bernstein
                       for Viera da Silva

we have just the view
the words of wind
this void the land

here the deepening reverses
making us leap into our eyes

always the go-and-come
the viewed and the not viewed
the graphing of not there
on that which is there

tantalizing passages
in ourselves opened
in ourselves passed
and the eye that travels
embroiled in the bait of air

each thing holds itself in that which it is
not the center
but central

all the body sees
and leaves behind the seen
like my back behind me

shimmers of air
strewn with pebbles of ink
the port that goes inside itself

mirror you are
our head inside itself
reentering home
by the pupil
this tiny black moon

in the sky of paper
air parts
pages for battlements
when thought volleys

blur of traces
blur among which
each returns to all

scales limp
under which planted with bone
the obscure

everywhere on the brink
just as in parting
the astonishment suffices
nothing arrests the open
save its surface

each limit calls
looking to pass
the head is over there
rejointing them

then in the ailing eye
the body sees itself come
in mental aeration

but here the Author in You in Himself
encounters affronted
the doubling of the world
a filter of air
the in finite

and this wall of nothing
where language is beheaded
next drowns itself in eyes

first published in 99 Poets / 1999:  An International Poetics Symposium (special issue of boundary 2: 26:1, 1999). the translation was for Bernard Noēl's visit to the Poetics Program at SUNY-Buffalo: reading and my introduction at PennSound.

See also Noēl's powerful contribution to L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E  (#7 , 1979),  from "The Outrage Against Words"