As one among the bright trees, reborn in the south wind,It’s the last night, tomorrow the stone on the stoneWill choose itself. And like one who sculpts a bone of blue sulfur.He was singing the bitter night open to the salt and a womanSadder than in the bonfire the nubile body of the sunWhen the fire of the sun, itself dying, is changingWithin the day and its burning.
Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is author of such works as The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter, Women of Bloomsbury: Virginia, Vanessa, and Carrington, Robert Motherwell: What Art Holds, Picasso’s Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar, Robert Motherwell with Pen and Brush, and is editor and translator of Approximate Man and Other Writings by Tristan Tzara, The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud by Jacques Derrida, and Ostinato by Louis-René des Forêts; the editor and co-translator of the HarperCollins World Reader, The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry, Capital of Pain by Paul Eluard, Essential Poems and Writings of Robert Desnos, Surrealist Painters and Poets, Surrealism, Surrealist Love Poems, and the co-editor and co-translator of Poems of André Breton and of Furor and Mystery and Other Writings of René Char. Recently, she has published Surprised in Translation, How Vita Matters, and Provençal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France. She is the recipient of fellowships from such institutions as Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, Getty, and Rockefeller, and is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
* “XII” was originally published in French in Sel noir (Paris: Gallimard, 1983). The English translation is published with permission from Gallimard. [End Page 852]