Jean Genet knows just what you mean about “choice” Ben. When you’re in love you have none.
Translation by Mark Spitzer Un Chant d’amour
by Jean Genet
To Lucien Sénémaud
SHEPHERD, descend from the sky
of your sleeping ewes!
(beautiful Winter, I surrender you
to the down of a shepherd)
If your sex is still frosted beneath my breath
dawn undoes it from this fragile dress.
Is it a question of loving at sunrise?
Their songs still sleep in the throats of herdsmen.
Let’s open our curtains on this marble decor:
Your dumbstruck face
sprinkled with sleep.
Oh your grace overwhelms me, I’m blacking out
beautiful vessel dressed for the wedding of the Isles
and the evening. High yardarm! Hard insult
oh my black continent, my dress
of vast grief!
Angry golden clusters, an instant out of God
(He breathes and falls asleep)
lightened from returning you.
Aided by your hand, I believe the sky descends
and tenderly lays its white gloves
on our eyes.
Its softness, above all, isolates you
and scatters this November rain
on your delicate brow.
Twilight of dawn
what shadow, what Africa
envelops your members
where a serpent dwells?
Leaf, waltz in reverse. Fogs, stray.
To what tree do you tie this scarf
flower of the wind?
My finger breaks the frost
on the wood of your harp
Girl of the rushes
standing, hair parted.
On the brim of my cap
a sprig of hazel hung awry
tickles my ear. In your neck
I hear a sputtering bird.
My horses sleep upright
in the path.
Caressing the shoulder of the sea
my eye distracted (my sandal wet
with the wing unstitched)
I feel my swollen hand
on your mossy heat
fill with white flocks
unseen in the air.
From your hip to your neck, my lambs go to graze
to browse through fine grass burnt from the sun
flowering acacias roll in your voice
the bee will steal the honey
of their echoes.
But the green flag of the prowlers of death
must watch over somewhere
and catch itself in the poles
and shake the night, the azure
while dusting your shoulders and
piercing your sand-buried feet
with streams of air.
In order for me to climb again
naked on blue stairways
solemn and sinking in these dream-waves
weary of perishing forever
inches from my lips
the horizon fell asleep
in your folded arms.
Your naked arms will whinny, quartering my night.
Damien, these dark horses disembowel deep water.
Centaurs born from the belly
take me galloping away.
But if sleep flees me
the arms of a dying negro.
I have adorned their horse nostrils
with roses, with ribbons
and the hair of stripped girls
I have wanted to caress their sunlit dresses
my arm outstretched above the stream:
Your stubborn shoulder has rejected my hand:
it dries up deserted on my docile wrist:
the hastening hand chopped off in vain
(five fingers of a thief with carmine nails)
is now more agile.
So many hands on the edges of paths and woods!
Close to your neck, the heel of my hand
loved living naked
but hardly became
a monster to your eyes
I will kiss your fingers
Shot at by surprise
a soldier smiles at me
with a trellis of blood on the whitewashed wall.
The shred of a discourse caught in the branches
and in the grass a hand
on rotting toes.
I speak of a country flayed to the bone.
France, with perfumed eyes, you are our image
as sweet as her nights, maybe even more
oh France, and like them
wounded by words
to the sound of twenty muffled drums.
Nude cadavers paraded through the town.
Beneath the moon a brass band files by
at the time of plowing
in our wooded vales.
Poor hand bound to melt!
You still leap in the grass.
From a wound or the blood of stones?
Who can be born, what page and what angel
of ivy chokes me?
What soldier bearing
your dead nails?
Should I lay myself at these feet uncurling the sea?
Beautiful love story: a child of the village
saves the errant sentinel on the beach
where the amber of my hand
attracts an iron lad!
In his torso, asleep — in a strange way
creamy almond star, oh curled up little girl
— This tolling of the blood in the path’s azure
is the evening’s bare foot
sounding on my lawn.
This form that keeps you so pure
is of a rose. Preserve it.
The evening already reveals you
and you appear to me (all clothes removed)
wrapped in your sheets
or standing against
At the edge of this badly shaken brimming petal
my lip dares to gather a falling tear
its milk swells my neck like a flight of doves.
oh remain a rose
with a pearl
on the petal.
Spiny fruit of the sea, your rays flay me
but the fine nail of the evening can split your rind.
My pink tongue drinks at these edges full force.
If my heart inside the gold of a false chignon
should founder while anchored alive
without being able to vomit itself
into a sea of bile
harnessed to your sex
then I wander motionless in great strides
this world without kindness
where you see me sleep.
I roll beneath the sea
and your wave above
twisted by your storms
yet I will go far
for the sky at work
with the thread of the horizon
has sewn me in a sheet.
Around your house I prowl without hope.
My sad whip hangs from my neck.
I watch through the shutters your beautiful eyes
those arbors, those palaces
of foliage where evening
Whistle dirty songs
strut around looking tough!
Your brood-crushing heel in the rushes
carves the April morning air
with gilded shells in the wind
flogging the azure.
But see that it doesn’t plummet and shed at your feet
oh star, my bright supporter in the most fragile nights
between the lace and snow of these isles:
your shoulders gold
the finger of
Clearly the good doctor is speaking from personal experience — right boys?