Saint-John Perse

Programming / Poetry

In the middle of the battle, everything goes wrong, everything collapses, too bad, what can we do?

Saint John Perse wrote Winds in 1945 – it was not a time for tenderness or love of men – on the contrary.
All that in us is cretinous, petty, small, shabby, fearful, all that has been ignobly spread out for too many years.

And here we are, we humans, swept away by the Winds summoned by Saint John Perse:

… They were very great winds on the land of men – very great winds at work among us,

That sang to us the horror of living, and sang to us the honor of living, ah! sang to us and sang to us at the highest peak of peril,

And on the wild flutes of woe led us, new men, to our new ways (…)

And the mischief of the soul under the flesh long keep it out of breath – a man still in the memory of the wind, a man still in love with the wind, as with a wine…

Like a man who has drunk from a jug of white earth: and the attachment is still on his lip

O you whom the storm refreshes, the living strength and the new idea will refresh your layer of living, the fetid smell of the misfortune will not infect any more the linen of your women.

Taken back to the gods your face, to the fires of the forges your brightness, you will hear, and the Year which passes, the acclamation of the things to be reborn on the debris of shells.

And you can put back to the fire the big blades color of liver under the oil. We will make of it irons of ploughing, we will know again the ground opened for the love, the moving ground, under the love, of a movement more serious than the pitch.

Sing, sweetness, to the last palpitation of the evening and the breeze, like an appeasement of exauced beasts.

And it is the end this evening of very big wind. The night fans out to other peaks. And the earth in the distance tells us its seas.

The gods, taken of drink, do they still stray on the earth of the men? And will our great themes of nativity be discussed among the learned?

Messengers will still go to the daughters of the earth, and will still make them daughters to dress for the delight of the poet.

And our poems will still go on the road of men, bearing seed and fruit in the line of men of another age –

A new race among the men of my race, a new race among the daughters of my race, and my cry of living on the road of men, from near to near, and from man to man,

To the distant shores where death deserts!….

Saint-John Perse – Winds – IV, 6

These are not nice texts
They are not easy poems – neither to write nor to hear
That’s right.

But literature is not a lukewarm water that you use to wash your conscience.
And when an author comes to put under our noses, in a pictorial way, how we are insignificant in the world, insignificant but cruel, greedy, pompous, well… it’s difficult to ear – but that, sometimes, he said, there are some, among us, who do not fly away with the debris of the wind – but on the contrary who remain there, standing, really human, living human – then we must listen to this author.

So that we don’t get swept away in these cyclones of hate, stupidity, fears – gentleness, beauty, love, do not survive very well in the cyclones of hate – they wait for their time to come back.

And then – as this text is very pictorial – if all is not clear, frankly…. in original French either – but – so – as this text is very pictorial, very powerful, obviously, it is part of these texts which have their place in real – in voices, in sounds, in musics.
Should I add that Winds is not a poem but a whole set of texts from which you can pick and choose to obtain a real, beautiful and powerful show?

& then, more and more frankly, what a magnificent display of insolence – yes a theatre for the dirty geeks, yes yes, the filthy, the lousy, the nasty ones – yes and the only theatre in the world that programs staged poetry – and poetry that has something to do with games, et toc.
Now that’s class.

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Featured Image : by Priit Vesilind for National Geographic

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