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La Peira | (The Stone)


La peira

   Sabe pas si sagnan, las peiras. Si cridan, si udlan jos la rôda e la massa, e lo fiau dau coteu si las blessa, a plena charn, en las trauchar.

   Sabe, l’argiu que ne’n riula per cas, tan roge que siaja n’es pas que de sang.

   E diria res de lor tendresa, de peira a peira, de l’aiga a l’aer...

   Mas ço que sabe, que nòstre sang ven de la peira. E nòstra charn ven pas d’alhors, tòrna de peira que sem peira, que sem pouvera e fum de vent.

   Que nòstre sang es sang de peira, e nôstra chalor de solelh, e nòstra bramada lo crit de la peira, e nôstra arma lai paissa a plen còrs, que siagem l’arma de la peira—mas dijatz, la peira, ela qu’es peira—d’onte ven ?



The Stone

   I don’t know if they bleed, the stones. Or if they cry out, if they scream under the mace or the wheel, of the knife’s blade wounds them, deep in their flesh, slicing through them.

   I know that the loam that sometimes runs from them, no matter how red it be, is not blood.

   And I’ll say nothing of their tenderness, from stone to stone, from water to air.

   But what I know is that our blood comes from the stone. And our flesh comes from nowhere else, it turns from stone into the stone we are, we are dust and wind’s smoke.

   That our blood is blood of the stone, and our heat of sun, and our clamor the cry of the stone, through which our soul passes full-bodied, that we are the soul of the stone—but tell me, the stone, who is the stone—from where does it come?



The scream of the stones

When the stones start to howl, to howl like a sick dog, like a child lost in the night,
like the dogs at the moon,
like a woman in her pains,
have you heard them, the stones?

When the stones howl under the hammer and under the mace, when the stones jabber
under the steel’s edge,
have you heard them complain?

—Have you heard them sing?
When you hear it blow, the wind that goes & caresses the stone,
and that passes its hands through its hair, its fingers over the … glove of the stone,
listen to it sing…

Listen to it sleep, the stone. For so much time inside the blackness of time and of the stone.
Listen to it breathe.
So fully, of such a long and deep breath that never ends, you’ll listen to it’s respiration…

One on top of the other, one across the other one against the other, sand above, sand below, the earth is deep and the stones sleep in it.
Don’t you hear them sleep?



Marcela Delpastre

MARCELA DELPASTRE (1925 - 1998) was an immense poet, prose writer and gatherer of tales and songs, an Occitan ethnopoetics practitioner from the Corrèze region of the Limousin--or “occupied Occitania.” Though she studied philosophy and literature in high school and then decorative arts in Limoges, she gave it all up in 1945 to return to Germont, the small village where she was born and would die, to run the family farm. Writing both in Occitan and in French, she produced a massive oeuvre still in the process of being published (by Jan dau Melhau at Edicions Jan Chamin de Sant-Jaume). As one commentator put it: “She is as much of a literary genius as Manciet or Rouquette and yet in France she is accorded much less recognition, being considered a less-valued “peasant-poet.” A witness of the profound upheavals of the post-World War II era, she cultivated an ongoing absolute relationship to the--her--land and to her language(s), through conscious and reactive writing and persistent anger, both nourished by ethnography and a deep knowledge of ecosystems and of the human soul. This profound relation to the earth and the spiritual world it reveals, a quasi-shamanistic process visible in the poems here published, is compacted in the term she insisted on using to define herself: the low-Limousin word meaning ‘peasant,’ which is a homophone of the French word “paien,” meaning “pagan.” [Commentary excerpted from the forthcoming publictaion of the poems in Jerome Rothenberg’s revised and expanded edition of Technicians of the Sacred.]


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2016

All Issues