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  • Black Salt*
  • Édouard Glissant
    Translated by Mary Ann Caws (bio)

Dedicated: to the sea

For the salt it signifies.Again the brilliance and the bitternessDistress of lights on its expanse. Profusion. The theme, as pure idea,knots itself with foam, with salting. Monotony: untiring sound the crysplits open.There is—on the delta—a river where the word builds up, the poem—and where the salt is purified.

Mary Ann Caws

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 ofFuror 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.


* “Black Salt,” 1960, was originally published in French in Sel noir (Paris: Gallimard, 1983). The English translation is published with permission from Gallimard. [End Page 848]



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