Crusoe Images


Old man with bare hands,
back among men, Crusoe!
you cried, I imagine, when from the Abbey towers, like ebbtide, a sob of bells poured over the City...
Poor wretch!
You cried to think of breakers under the moon; of whistles from more distant shores; of strange musics born and muted under night’s folded wing,
like the circle-chain that is a conch’s waves, the amplifying of undersea noisings...


Goat Parasol

It’s in the grayish smell of dust, in the attic cupboard. It’s under a three-legged table; between the sandbox for the cat and the hoopless barrel heaped with feathers.



Before the hissing hearth, chilled beneath your flowery greatcoat, you watch the gentle fins of flame waving—but a crackle breaks the singing darkness; it’s your bow, upon its nail, as it splits. And it opens the length of its secret fiber, like a dead pod in a warlike tree’s hands.



In a pot you buried it, the purple seed stuck to your goatskin wear.
It did not sprout.
And what complaining then on the hearth’s lips, an evening of long rain on march to the city, stirred up in your heart the dark birth of language:
“... Of a luminous exile—and farther gone already than the onrolling storm—how keep hold of the ways, my Lord! that you have given unto me?
“... Will you not leave me only this evening’s confusion—after you’ve, the livelong day, fed me with your solitude’s salt,
“witness of your silences, of your darkness and your great blasts of utterance?”

—Thus your complaint, in evening’s confusion.
But under the dark casement, before the expanse of wall opposite, since you were not able to revive the lost bedazzlement,
now, opening the Book,
you strolled a tired finger amongst the prophecies, then looking far away, you awaited the moment of departure, the great wind rising that would unseal you at one blow, like a typhoon, dividing the clouds before your eyes’ expectation.


Saint-John Perse