Ten texts from Debout sur la langue, by Antoine Wauters,
translated into English by Ricardo Domeneck.
It all stems from a rush of blood, from a red
calling to the body. From a need to cross,
being crossed, trespassed over the field. From a
need of listening more than of speech. It all
stems from a bellowing from below, babbling
or devilish, dense into the bowels.
Tout part d’un coup de sang, d’un appel
rouge au corps. D’un besoin de passer,
d’être passé, traversé sur-le-champ. D’un
besoin d’entendre plus que de parler. Tout
part d’un cri éclair venu d’en bas, babil
ou diable, dense aux entrailles.
It all stems from a muffled beat, persistent
as a breath of night, primordial as
the soil. From a song predating language
and upon which all scree rests, settles,
our tongues in the grindstone, hundredfold.
Tout part d’un battement sourd, régulier
comme un souffle de nuit, primitif comme
la terre. D’un chant précédent le langage
et sur lequel pose, repose tout l’éboulis :
nos langues cent fois moulues.
Speech is no more than a crossroad,
a crossing, a pressure vessel between
earth´s ear and the ear to the guts, mud
seeking to filter, infiltrate the living,
the blue opening of the drysuit, body
or tongue, our night.
Parler n’est qu’un passage, un passer, un
sas de décompression entre l’oreille de
terre et l’oreille de bas-ventre, une boue
cherchant à filtrer, infiltrer le vivant,
l’ajour bleu du scaphandre, corps ou
langue, notre nuit.
The feet outstretched, the head within the hands
under the soil, stepping on a fleeting world where
dense and oval the call, dense and oval the song,
I earthen myself. The body is a ear, a rock,
hammering on. It speaks to us, it severs us,
undoing, undermining. Spoken, severed,
it is also broken, undone through a call. It listens.
Pieds à plat, tête en mains dans le sol,
foulant un monde enfoui dont dense et
rond l’appel, dense et rond le chanté,
je me terre. Le corps est une oreille, un
rocher martelant. Il nous parle et nous
fend, nous déchire et nous mine. Parlé,
fendu, il est aussi rompu, déchiré d’un
appel. Il entend.
The tongue as a scene where a voice
awakens. Mad. Wild. Which is the first
voice, breath before the word, mute
or long beating. A noise. Of noise. One
endlessly more beautiful than our
La langue comme une scène où déboule
une voix. Folle. Sauvage. Qui est la voix
première, parole d’avant le mot, muette
ou battant longue. Un bruit. Du bruit. Un
infiniment plus beau que nos musiques
Not on the shale, clay just found,
not throbbing over it all, the sky
and the pontoons, to the saliva, the drool,
on the colour of the teeth. Not slowly
pushed, taken by the voice contained
in the soil, contained in the pulse,
troubled song of the prompter.
Pas dans la marne, l’argile dès qu’ils la
trouvent, pas qui vibrent sur tout, le ciel
et les pontons, aux salives, à la bave,
dans la couleur des dents. Pas lentement
poussés, emmenés par la voix retenue
dans la terre, contenue dans le pouls,
chants troubles du souffleur.
My tongue is sand where all tongues
dance, the wise song of all times.
At dawn, it is the vortex ring
passed to the finger, to the wrist
of water and ear.
Ma langue est le sable où dansent toutes
les langues, le chant su de tous temps.
À la fraîche, elle est l’anneau de souffle
passé au doigt, au poing d’eau de l’ouïe.
This of which I speak comes from the earth as much
as from the sea. From the bowels of the earth
and from the sea of bowels. Day and night,
restless, words are placed on the temple, blue,
delicate, of earth crust. When I say I write,
maybe it would suffice to hear nothing
other than I bow, stretch my hand, gather
rocks and boulders of sound.
Ce que je dis vient de la terre autant que
de la mer. Du ventre de terre et de la mer
de ventre. Jour et nuit sans repos, les mots
sont posés sur la tempe, bleue, fragile, de
la croûte terrestre. Lorsque je dis j’écris,
peut-être ne faut-il rien entendre d’autre
que je me penche, tends la main, ramasse
rocs et rochers sonores.
The words sprayed on the paper are
an auburn swing of soil before they
are seen, read, undressed. Muffled beats
the body receives, immerged medium.
Les mots giclés sur le papier sont, avant
d’être vus, lus, dévêtus, simples roulis
brun terre. Battements sourds reçus par
le corps, le médium immergé.
The body is a dive into clay
which is in depth fire, flowing
red water, souverain. Here,
on this alliance emmerged from
the bowels, which hand in hand,
combined, found space and time. Here
the body becomes once again
the world´s ear and with a muffled
beating of blood, bears the voices.
Le corps est plongé dans la glaise qui,
tout au fond, est du feu, de l’eau filant
rouge, souveraine. C’est là, dans cette
alliance montée au ventre, qu’ensemble,
main dans la main, fondent l’espace et le
temps. Là que le corps redevient l’oreille
du monde et, battant sourd le sang, en
accouche les voix.
Antoine Wauters was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1981. He has studied philosophy, with a work based on Nietzsche, Foucault and Bioethics. He has published the collections Os (2008), La Bouche en quatre (2008) and Debout sur la Langue, from which these ten fragments have been selected and translated. Debout sur la Langue (2008) received in 2009 the Emile Polak prize, given by the Académie royale de langue et littérature françaises de Belgique. A bilingual edition of Debout sur la Langue , translated into Portuguese by Juliana Bratfisch, will be released by Lumme Editor later in 2010. His most recent poetry collection is titled Ali si on veut and will be released in France by Cheyne Editeur. He has authored two novels, Un homme ulcéré and Césarine de nuit, and the play Les animaux de paroles. He has read in several festivals and is a member of a collective called RéEvolution Poétique. He is coeditor with Ben Arès and David Besschops of the magazine Matières à poésie, and his texts have been published in various magazines in Belgium, France, Canada and Germany. The poet lives in Liège, where he teaches philosophy and writes screenplays. He is also the editor of langue vive.
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