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The Way barred, Translation of Pierre Emmanuel's Le sens clos by T Wignesan

The Way barred, Translation of Pierre Emmanuel’s Le sens clos by T. Wignesan

Every man has to confront his own night
If he wants to continue on his journey.
But Death takes it upon itself to meet him 
At the hour and the place it chooses
(The moment when sometimes this man’s most at peace
Making him forget the profoundness of being at ease.)

There’s this look which suddenly arrests him
This wall against which he collides headlong.
There’s this arrow-like fixedness focussing ahead
Visible in his pupils. There’s this stiffness
Of the nape through which the soul is reached.
There’s this man’s expression of utter surrender
Yet he takes the step into the impenetrable void.

Yet this obscure hardness is an invitation
To force the impenetrable door through dire anxiety.
It being convenient to defer to terror
The way one dons a wedding dress. As long as God
Does not imbue with madness those who love Him
He’s not loved as He would have wished.

Just the way the Patriarchs the Prophets
Train their sights towards this wine. And the face
Gaping at the first to arrive on the road 
To take him back home. Someone fills it up
Like one does a cup : this passer-by becomes Jacob
Unable to control God in his veins,
And the over-abundance frothing in his eyes.

He who assails the invisible (perhaps you)
Little does it matter if he’s petrified
Or if his limbs flail in the emptiness. He equally
Experiences the misery of such venerable persons
Who mask their vacant selves with such gestures
Their atrocious trances with such stillness.

If every man must on his own open the door of his night
That’s just so as to reveal what’s meant for all mankind.
No Jacob will ever stop clasping at God
Nor await Abraham’s Justice
Nor keep silent under Isaac’s knife.
Nor for the Adam in every one of us to provoke
The echo of the void at the portals of paradise.

(Jacob, O.C. t. II, p. 147)

© T. Wignesan – Paris, October 19, 2014

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