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Four Poems by René Char translated from the French by Eliot Cardinaux



The quarantined enclosure burned
You cloud move ahead

Cloud of resistance
Cloud of caverns
Towing hypnosis.





The crevice’s inventor
Tugs tumult’s rope

We gauge the depth
Along the riled contours of the thigh

The quiet blood that releases
Confuses the needles
Raises love without reading it.





As soon as he was certain
With a tightness in his throat
He facilitated the word

She played on the four-penny picture books

He spoke like one kills
The beast
Or pity

His fingers touched the other shore

But the sky tilted
So quickly
That the eagle on the mountain
Had its head cut off.




Because the sun was playing the peacock on the wall
Instead of traveling on treeback.



René Char (1907-1988) is a French poet who was a leader of the French Resistance during World War II. These poems are taken from his 1934 collection Le Marteau sans maître (The Hammer with No Master), and were written several years before he became active as part of the surrealist movement, from which he later distanced himself.


Eliot Cardinaux, born in Dayton, Ohio in 1984, is a poet, pianist, composer, and translator, working at the intersection of improvised music and experimental poetry. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from The New England Conservatory, and an MFA in poetry from The University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the founder of The Bodily Press, a small press and record label. Eliot performs and records along the East Coast and in Europe, most notably and recently in duo with Gary Fieldman, in trio with Will McEvoy and Max Goldman, and with the international ensemble Our Hearts as Thieves. His poems have been published in publications such as Jacket2, Café Review, Spectra Poets, Big Big Wednesday, Talisman, Caliban Online, and Bloodroot. His debut collection of poetry, On the Long Blue Night, is forthcoming from Dos Madres Press.


© Libraries José Corti, 1934 and 1945, for the poems of René Char


© Eliot Cardinaux, 2023, for the English translations



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