The White Century
Poets, what is your calling?
Often I dreamt of and believed in you.
Then I forgot about you: we do not voyage
In the same boat.
We are not dying the same death.
This century looks white? Is it white?
Very well then! Look at its forehead,
Consult it, as doctors do with patients.
I cannot hear you any longer. Everything is pink
And white. Am I dying of white, or dying of pink?
Shall we speak of the table laid out for supper?
Eating in order to eat.
But why does death step on me
Like a ladder?
Death dwells in this frame, and the table
And its cloth are my cerements.
Is my food death? Poets, what brings you to me?
Write and say what you please.
The sun is white, incandescent. So
Is the thought. Death passes lightly over it
Dissembling its violence with tenderness.
It is verily white, I say to you. It irks me
The way you speak about the death
Of an old man, the trailer of corn cobs
Tossed into the stove; about the man
With nothing on his table, and the king
Who is stupid, not drunk on his death-bed.
Why do you speak on? Leave me in peace.
Write and say what you please
But leave me at the oars of my boat undisturbed.