The House Surrounded


The mountain hesitates outside my window:
"How can I come in, if I am a mountain,
Extending as I do upwards, with rocks and pebbles,
A piece of the Earth, and changing under the Sky?"
The foliage of woods surrounds my house:
"What have the woods to say about all this?
Our world spread out in branches, leafy world,
What can it do in that room with its white bed,
Where a candlestick is burning at its peak,
Close to that flower sipping from a glass?
What can it do for that man who leans on his arm,
For a hand which writes in the shelter of four walls?
Let us take counsel from our fragile roots,
He hasn't seen us, he searches within himself
For trees which understand what he has to say."
And the river: "This is no concern of mine;
For myself alone I flow and know nothing of men.
Wherever they find me I have already gone,
Always ahead of myself, I fear to linger.
Who care for people who walk away on their legs–
They leave and they will return the way they came."
But the star says, "Trembling I hang by a thread;
I cease to exist if no one thinks of me."


                               French; trans Patricia Terry


Jules Supervielle, French, trans. Patricia Terry, Les Amis Innconnus, Editions Gallimard, 1934.