Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Gift of Oneself (by Valery Larbaud 1881-1957)

I offer myself to each and everyone by way of reward;
It's yours even before you have come to deserve it.

There is something in me,
In the depths of me, at the centre of me,
Something infinitely arid
Like the summit of the highest mountains;
Something that could be likened to the blind spot on the retina,
And echoless,
Which none the less can see and hear;

A being who leads a decent life, who lives, however,
Everything I do, and listens impassively
To all the mutterings of my conscience.

A being made of nothing, if that's possible,
Who does not feel my aches and pains,
Who does not weep when I weep,
Who does not laugh when I laugh,
And who does not blush when I commit some shameful act,
And who does not whine when my heart is wounded;
Who stays still and keeps his own counsel
But who seems to eternally say:
"I am here, indifferent to all".

Perhaps it is made of void as is the void,
But so big that Good and Evil together
Do not fill it.
Hatred dies of suffocation there
And the greatest love can never find a way in.

So take all from me: the meaning of these poems,
Not what one reads, but what comes through in spite of myself:
Take it, take it, you have nothing.
And wherever I go, in the whole universe,
I always meet, outside me as in me,
The unfillable void,
The unconquerable Nothing.

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