Three Poems by Pierre Jean Jouve
(from 'Nuptials' — 1924)

There's no need to be a king riding on a donkey
Everyone has his own conscience
We all wait; we travel endlessly
Without purpose.

We ourselves invented the machines or our own destruction
We should not complain of the outcome
As they smash everything in sight
Even the sun's rays fragment.

See how impotent I have become
How my anxieties have increased
How unstable I seem
I can barely hold myself together
I don't act my age
I'm all over the place

My old trouble's back with a vengeance
Human blood's the one colour
Death is final whatever its guise
The walls are closing in
Nothing I can say alters reality
I dare do nothing more.


When I was young I loved time
But I couldn't bear to he the youngest in the family
How loved the grass heavy with seed
The trees delighting in the sound
Of their own sighing branches.

When I was young I loved old things
Now I follow my shadow
As it tilts towards death
I've tasted time for too long
Perhaps with old age
Calm will come.


How many mistakes we make when we love so foolishly
In pursuit of some dubious ecstasy
The smell, the taste, the touch of a woman
Her suppleness, her deceit
Her in whose soft pearly skin
Smiles death itself who knows so well
The grief love ends in.