5 poems by Rene Daumal

by Φ


When the word was written
for the first time,
clarified air no longer weighed heavy in our heads,
and the multitude was thirsty.
All the seeds were dead, dead in their progeny,
the chaff was their tomb,
the mountain ended its bloodletting,
and the bloody earth became stone,
and the bloody water became sea,
and the bloody fire became lightning.

The old ones, covered with rust, groaned:
“…return to the wheel, O breath of mine!
go and with your heavy step dance around the
planets throughout the cavernous night.
My children have no thoughts!
My beautiful children have empty heads.
Life is easy but they live no longer…”
and the old ones died between the mountain’s teeth,
their faces veined its marble,
under the flint slept those who were buried
deeper than the depths of their bones.

Under a bird’s thorax, an emptiness without edges stopped buzzing.
A thousand blind wolves in this closet!
and here I am out of breath.

I have since recovered it.


The church doorkeeper was leading his goats to pasture down the empty avenue. A few children were dying or were drying out in the windows — it was springtime and men’s hands were outstretched under the sun, offering to all bread from their palms, bread that their children had not gobbled up.

On terraces, people found themselves between heaven and earth; there were broken heads on that day, heads of the young who wanted to fly above the gardens.

Seagulls and handkerchiefs flapped in the air and broke up the blue through windows, and crystal streamers sailed away under the clouds.

When evening came, it was the old folk’s turn; they invaded the streets, seated on fat wooden stools, they charmed pigeons and drank hot milk.
The sky was a bit darker and higher.

Trees stretched out in the park and extended their snares to the moths; the doorkeeper has returned to the church and the goats are asleep in the crypt.
Suddenly, women howl like a pack of wolves because in the outskirts, a man from the country was seen creeping about, bare and white.


The sun is excessively hot.
Men run to buy handkerchiefs, but not to wipe their brows.
Last resort: the eclipse, celestial acrobatics.
In the cosmic carnival, this man takes seriously his planetary role.
They are burning the sun in effigy, irony of fate, the slaves’ peasantry.
Let’s not laugh too hard over it. The slaves are now walking around the millstone which grinds on the void. The stars become drunk with their sweat, the potbellied sun drags through the dust of the streets, a hollow eye opens in the heavens and the slaves laugh, their shoulders glistening.


A child gazes stupidly at a crack in a window. The man who is behind the glass is turning a little brass wheel. the window shakes, the crack gives way, and the child’s head is split open.
The man had the child brought into his large empty workshop. A bull reduced by heaven-knows-what means to the size of a mouse was galloping wildly in the white dust that had settled on the floor. In a corner, an old rooster was gobbling up nuts.
“This is my child!” cried a woman, slithering down the sidewalk. She had a wet, pink snout like that of a young lamb.
The man had the brass wheel turned backwards one full turn, tapped his fingers against his brass temples and gave the child back to the woman.
The child crawled upon his mother’s back and went throughout the city shouting: “Glassmaker.”


Silence aggravated the loss of a friend,
the flames of candles froze into white flowers,
and with my finger, I pointed at myself in the mirror.

Drawers opened by themselves in the morning breeze,
a flattened sun slipped into my hand,
slobbering, I made some stupid calculations.

A woman with white ivory eyes entered,
she held out her arms and smiled,
where her teeth should have been hung pieces of red skin.