Friday, September 26, 2008

Poetry Reading VI: From Daumal to Pradal

Rene' Daumal was no minor fellow: in his brief life he managed to be a mountain climber, a writer, an orientalist, a poet, and most important of all, a Truth Seeker.

Recently I have found a small poem of his which left an indelible impression when I first read it, years ago. Here it is:

Je suis mort parce que je n’ai pas de désir,

Je n’ai pas de désir parce que je crois posséder,

Je crois posséder parce que je n’essaye pas de donner.

Essayant de donner, on voit qu’on n’a rien,

Voyant qu’on n’a rien, on essaye de se donner,

Essayant de se donner, on voit qu’on n’est rien,

Voyant qu’on n’est rien, on désire devenir,

Désirant devenir, on vit..."


I have died because I do not have desires,

I do not have desires because I think that I own,

I think that I own because I do not try to give.

Trying to give, one see that one has nothing,

Seeing that one has nothing, on tries to give oneself,

Trying to give oneself, one seer that he is nothing,

Seeing that he is nothing, one desires to become,

Desiring to become, one lives...

(poor translation is mine)


Now comes the funny part: after I posted it somewhere on the Social Web, Caroline Pradal, a french artist and a contributing member of AristoKracy, wrote this small poem in reply (she of course retains the copyright of this delicious creature), which I found witty and lovely (and I am sure Daumal, were he still alive, would forget her little "impertinence"):

Je suis en vie parce que je n'ai que des désirs,

J'ai des désirs parce que je les possède,

Je les possède parce que je les donne.

Essayant de donner, on voit que l'on a tout,

Voyant qu'on a tout, on essaye de ne rien donner,

Essayant de ne rien donner, on voit que l'on est Tout.

Voyant que l'on est Tout, on ne désire plus Etre,

Désirant ne plus Etre, on meurt...


I am alive because I have only desires,

I have desires because I own them,

They are mine because I give them.

Trying to give, you see that you have everything

Seeing that you have everything, you try not to give

Trying not to give, you see that you are All.

Seeing that you are All, it no longer wants to Be,

Desiring not to Be, you die ...

(translation by Caroline Pradal, all rights reserved)


Anonymous said...

Aye, and if you live, mayhap you learn to die, and if you are dying often you understand how life went wrong. And very seldom you can stare your life and feel it was a worthwile one. Airone

Polymathicus said...

Yes Mighty Airone, very seldom indeed. However, if you keep death at close quarters, your life will take on quite a different meaning:

You only live twice
Once when you're born,
And once when you look
death in the face

Anonymous said...

Hi Dirk,

Great verses! Glad to stumble over your blog! I remember fondly of our time at Northumbria!