No. 6. — Songs of Solitary Selves
Just when it looked like summer had settled in for good, August delivered a bit of rain. And just when I thought I had pretty well wrapped up this set of Rambles, I found my casual browsing through the anarchist individualist literature yielding a remarkable number of writings focused on the notion of solitude. So it seems appropriate to supplement No. 5, which was without new translations, with this collection, drawn from a considerably larger body of poems and short reflections, of working translations featuring a variety of perspectives on what we have been calling self-separation.
Far from the petty duties and faithful respect
That force too-weak knees to bend,
If you want to be strong, build your fortress
On the proud peaks where the eagle has its home.
On the azure summit where each new dawn
Sees the rose bloom and the wild rose flower,
Poet, for your self alone, on your immortal lyre,
Sing your ideal, in the shadow of the path.
Flee the crowd’s procession and the riot’s storm,
Since your soul is proud and scorns the feast,
The joys and clamors of the noisy cities.
Solitude is sweet and exile is a dream
To the sage, whose aim, without respite and without truce,
Is to give life to their soul, where their deities are.
Pendant la Mêlée 1 no. 2 (5 Décember 1915): 2.
The Lonely Alley.
Leave the street to those whose souls are troubled.
As for you, breathe in, like a clandestine treasure,
The lily of solitude on your lofty balcony,
And play with the blonde locks of Fortune.
Heaps of the hungry crowded at the common table,
Leave to others their hasty portion of the feast;
And let your verses, secrets as well as your destiny,
Ascend like a jet of water toward the moon.
In the heart of the sanctuary hear the divine art
Prophesy your soul, and towards the divine Work
Lift your heart like a ciborium of fine gold.
Think, dominate the Age, and breath in Space.
Do not hope; Hope is a rapacious bird.
See, if you can, the eternal in the hour that passes.
Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 4 (15 Janvier 1916): 2.
Alone, superbly alone; here is my pride.
Thank you, I have no need of your compassion.
I love the high summits where the icy winds sting.
Narrowed horizons do not intoxicate my soul;
I hate the confused noises of the public square,
I like to acclimate myself where you could not live.
Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 5 (26 Janvier 1916): 2.
“Live your life:”… To live one’s life is just the opposite of spreading it out on a platter. How can you claim to live your life when you are unable to keep your secret to yourself?… To live your life is not to live for those close to you, not even for the closest, but to live for yourself.
Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 22 (mi Janvier 1917): 1.
To the Superman
You alone, and that is enough. The herd that we are,
Since, for better or worse, we remain human,
Interests your superhuman pride nor more
Than the blood spilled on the roadside flowers.
You live on the summits, like an austere hermit,
Nobly detached from the things of the earth,
And it is not to you that some grotesque joker,
Might say, if you came here: “What’s it to you?”
You drink in the pleasure from a naked kiss
Averting your eyes, haughtily, from naked women,
And your deep disgust for what we love
Deprives our air of access to your lungs.
To eat is good for we who possess a belly
With the appetites of a wild cat in its den!
Your own kindness, for the birds in the sky,
Leaves drops of honey in the hearts of the flowers!
Mortal indifferent to the evil that tortures us,
May your felicity reign in nature;
But if at your feet the world kneels,
Wait until I am dead to mock us!
Par-delà la Mêlée 1 no. 7 (8 Mars 1916): 2.
In the depths of the attic where I live alone
I dream of racing and wandering the arth,
Or, naked, stretching out in the shadows of tall trees.
I dream of a new, different, future life,
Where, finally free, as children of nature,
Humans will frolic, without morals and without laws.
It is free women, having broken their shackles,
Their infamous yoke, that I dream and not slaves
Subject to the male, to his brutal pleasure.
I dream of milieus where harmony reigns
Where under a loving sky, of infinite sweetness,
Beings without remores satisfy their desires.
In the depths of my attic, where I live alone,
I dream of embracing a naked body on earth
Covered with grass in the shadows of tall trees.
To lull our movement, I hear a soft murmur,
Song of liberated beings, children of nature.
Nothing but a dream… and yet, the dream of one outside the laws.
L’en dehors 12 no. 250-251 (mi-Mars 1933): 69.
Solitude and Imagination.
The thinker is much less alone in solitude than in the crowd.
In solitude, we can give free flow to our imagination, which takes responsibility for surrounding us with individuals with the most diverse mentalities, with whom we talk and debate, persecute and protect.
Are we in a bad mood? We have the satisfaction of discharging it on one or more of these beings created by our imagination. Are we in a good mood? We pass it on to these characters with whom we divert ourselves. Are you besotted with sweetness? Immediately, an ideally beautiful woman comes, softly, to wrap you in her frail and fragrant arms.
Do we wish to make music? As soon as we seat ourselves at the piano, or take up our violin, we become a virtuoso without equal, although in real life we do not know how to play these instruments.
Imagination! But it is the manifestation of life itself. What is our real life beside that of our imagination! What misery would the life of man be without it!
But what am I saying — without it? But is it conceivable that an individual could make the least little reflection without addressing themselves to imaginary beings?
We want to stand aside from the enslaved crowd,
To live off our land like the primitives.
We want to be good and naive, without regrets;
We want to live alone, in order to know life!
We want the sea and the horizon before us,
The hills, the woods, the magnificent rocks,
Everything, finally, that pleases our peaceful hearts.
Happy, we live far from the wretched prison…
To have our share of false liberties,
We must stifle dreams and joys;
Before too much happiness, hatred exerts itself:
Men, you would mercilessly mow down our pride!
We are not born to nourish remorse,
And your counsels are pure, divine Solitude.
We give our time to Love, to Study,
We await Age and Death without fear!
L’en dehors 17 no 318-319 (Mai-Juin 1938): 49.
Out in the fields, the sun has returned and the brief reign of the field clover seems to have come to an end. Thick, course grass, of the sort that remains green despite the ongoing drought, is having its day, and in some places the hillside looks like a particularly unkempt lawn.
The hawks seem to have abandoned the neighboring property, at least for now, and the crows have their pick of treelines in which to congregate.
With the days getting shorter again, I am more and more likely to make my rounds at dusk and, while the contours of the land are not always conducive to the viewing of sunsets, sometimes atmospheric conditions conspire to put on a very pretty show, which can be viewed from the cool spaces at the bottom of the hill — an appropriately solitary kind of space in which to finally really end this arc.