Jean Portante in Numéro Cinq

The General Indifference of Sand: Poems — Jean Portante Translated by Pierre JorisThe first poem begins:



Le désert compta ses rides et l’aigle et le
faucon répandirent, aussitôt la nouvelle.

— Edmond Jabès

it is due to the general indifference of
the grains of sand
that the desert came about
but also because the sand
knew how to remain gregarious


to know that all the grains of sand
of all the deserts sleep in me
does not reassure me
like them every night
I get underway
searching for a dry dream
a dream which in order to defend us
would brave the meanders of humidity


I went to station myself
on the line separating one desert from the other
to watch the grains of sand
getting married in secret
before crossing the border


(ctd. here)

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Comment on “Jean Portante in Numéro Cinq”

  1. It reminds me of that great line from Albert Camus in L’Etranger, “the benign indifference of the universe.” Prose and poetry to live by.

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