Sunday, June 26, 2011

when shall i be as the swallow and give up my silence?

Lettre du vingt-six juin

Que les oiseaux vous parlent désormais de notre vie.
Un homme en ferait trop d'histoires
et vous ne verriez plus à travers ses paroles
qu'une chambre de voyageur, une fenêtre
où la buée des larmes voile un bois brisé de pluie...

La nuit se fait. Vous entendez les voix sous les tilleuls:
la voix humaine brille comme au-dessus de la terre
Antarès qui est tantôt rouge et tantôt vert.


N'écoutez plus le bruit de nos soucis,
ne pensez plus à ce qui nous arrive,
oubliez même notre nom. Ecoutez-nous parler
avec la voix du jour, et laissez seulement
briller le jour. Quand nous serons défaits de toute crainte,
quand la mort ne sera pour nous que transparence,
quand elle sera claire comme l'air des nuits d'été
et quand nous volerons portés par la légèreté
à travers tous ces illusoires murs que le vent pousse,
vous n'entendrez plus que le bruit de la rivière
qui coule derrière la forêt; et vous ne verrez plus
qu'étinceler des yeux de nuit...


Lorsque nous parlerons avec la voix du rossignol….

Philippe Jaccottet

Letter of 26 June

From now on let our life be told to you by birds.
A man would churn out too many tales
and all you’d see through his words would be
a traveler’s lodgings, a window
where tears have misted a rain-shattered wood….

Night settles. You hear voices under the lime trees:
the human voice shines like the earthward gleam
of Antares which is sometimes red, sometimes green.


Don’t listen anymore to the din of our worries,
don’t think about what has happened to us,
forget our name, too. Listen as we speak
through the voice of day, and let there be only
daylight shining. When we come to be drained of all fear,
when death seems to us mere transparency,
when it is clear as the night air in summer
and we are carried by lightness, flying
through all these imagined walls the wind leans on,
all you will hear is the sound of the river
flowing behind the forest, all you will see
is night’s eyes as they gleam….


When we shall speak with the voice of the nightingale….

Translated by Jennie Feldman


  1. Love the photo James. I see you was on a riverwalk somewhere. Cute way to take a picture.

    Moving poem too!

    Giving up your silence isn't always easy

  2. what a unique perspective ...

  3. see, this is the state of grace of my naivety - i don't know who is speaking truly, Philippe Jaccottet, Jennie Feldman or James Owens. and it hardly matters. perhaps it is the nightingale that is speaking. but whatever or whoever, peace descended on me while reading and i am well.

    beautiful. and playful photograph. it is wonderful to see you in your world.


  4. musicwithinyou: Thank you. That is the west race in South Bend. Silence can become a part of you....

  5. Susan: Stumbled over by chance....

  6. erin: Naivety is a wonderful quality! I'm pretty sure the final longing of sophistication is to have it back....

    Who is speaking is an excellent question, though. I guess my first impulse would be to say that I am, since I chose the puppets -- but then I like the ambiguity better than I like that. And isn't that ambiguity prefigured in the image itself? Is this a portrait of he who peers into the mirror, or of he who stares back out? (I'm fooling around a bit :-)

  7. Yes James , silence can become a part of you just don't let it become all of you

  8. "From now on let our life be told to you by birds" - love this. And that picture is so playful it makes me smile!

  9. musicwithinyou: That's very good advice ....

  10. Marion: I'm glad I could make you smile :-)

  11. Very inspirational James.
    Hope all is well.
    Anna :)