Deux Poésies

de Georges Schehadé

I can never repeat too often how much my taste in poetry – a certain kind of poetry – is indebted to Georges Schehadé. After a childhood carpeted with Victor Hugo’s alexandrines, and an adolescence initially idolizing, like most others, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Apollinaire, I suddenly discovered that a language freed from meter and rhyme and rid of the glitter of rare words (which, with the followers of Mallarmé, are often no more than fake jewels), could sing higher, more accurately and, without fearing reality, continuously embellish it. The surreal is something else: a parallel world, created through mysterious sleight-of-hand. I came to it at almost the same time, playing on purposely precarious verses, impossible assemblages, and sly (albeit delightful) breaks. No, Schehadé wants solely to make us remember, up to the limits of memory, the salty hemline of the sea, the heady scent of the apple orchard, the whisperings of the spring and foliage. And if he is skilful at collages, just like anyone else, this is never without regard for the simple laws that govern the universe. What universe? The only one that counts, the only one worthy of our being born and dying in it, made up of tenderness and compassion, wisdom, and humour: a world where smiles and tears are reversible, and where ‘time is innocent of things’.

Please excuse this lengthy couplet. After the Cinq of 1976 and the Trois of 1987, which echo each other, these ‘Two’ songs might seem superfluous. I composed them only three years after the publication of the collection they come from – Schehadé’s last – and the title of which resembles no one but him: Le Nageur d’un seul amour (The Swimmer of a Sole Love). These are serious texts, fully misty with farewells. I would like the reader to be sensitive to this unambiguous promise of eternity: that of childhood, which death only puts to sleep; and that of poetry, which, in the hereafter, will continue to celebrate the miracle of the tree and water…

Guy Sacre
(translation: John Tyler Tuttle)


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