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Prophecy

by Jules Supervielle

translated from the French by William Louis-Dreyfus and Molly Peacock


One day the Earth will be
Only a blind space turning
Confounding night and day.
Under the huge Andes sky
It will no longer have mountains,
Not even the smallest ravine.

Of all the world’s houses
Nothing but a balcony remains
And of all human hemispheres
Only a sorrow without ceiling.
Of the late Atlantic Ocean
A slight taste of salt in the air,
A magical flying fish
Knowing nothing of the sea.

From a 1905 Coupe
(The four wheels but no road!)
Three young girls of the time
Stilled in their vaporized state
Look out the carriage door
Thinking that Paris isn’t far
And have nothing but the smell
Of the sky that grips you by the throat.

And from where the woods once stood
A bird’s song will rise
That no one will identify,
Or place, or even hear
Except God who, listening,
Will say, “It’s a gold finch.”

 

Jules Supervielle was born in Montevideo in 1884, the son of French parents who resettled in South America. First published in 1900, he continued to write his entire life until his death in the 1960’s. First noticed by Gide and Valéry, he is today recognized as one of the most important French poets of this century. (1994)


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