louis aragon | I say the peace


by Louis Aragon

I say the peace pale and sudden
Like a happiness long dreamt of
Like a happiness you barely
Believe you’ve found

I say the peace like a woman
I’d open the door then all at once
Her two arms around my soul and
Around my neck

I say the peace an old window
That rattles on a fine morning
When the whole world has only the
Fragrance of thyme

I say the peace so it can light
Your steps during this new season
But like an ordinary thing
In any home

For the birds and for the brushes
Green and black above the waters
And for the busy little fish
In the rushes

I say the peace for all the stars
For every hour of the day
Every roof tile and for you
Shadow and love

I say the peace for childhood games
Where you run and jump, laugh and cry
Where you lose your train of thought on
The wide prairie

I say the peace but this is strange
This feeling of fear that I have
Because my heart itself changes
Lightly lightly

I say the peace howsoever
Precarious fragile voiceless
Because it’s like a bee who works
Though it’s unseen

Just a sudden breeze through the leaves
Just a simple hesitation
Ray of sunlight on the threshold
Of our passions

Peace falters as though uncertain
Like steps of a convalescent
Still attuned to disabling wounds
And how they bled

The war lets its tight reins go slack
The war has even lost its fight
What’s left is a dull silence
Poorly cushioned

Wagons that go to the barracks
Are still making a little noise
We will dance in the alfalfa
Until night falls

You will see tomorrow you will
The school children on the playgrounds
And lovely weather though not what
Was predicted

Now we will fight for a new youth
Of houses and some happy days
And for lovers who want to have
Lots of children

We will pull it back together
Through the burnt marvels of our world
Life will come around without your
Having to beg

Soon now you will want me to name
The new palaces we will make
The tunes in the people’s minds
And our pipedreams

And the immense laboratory
Where the miracles are human
And the pillars of history
Are in our hands

I know I know it’s all to do
In this century where Death made camp
And to look for Peace at all
Is so far out

Brief scattered fires die dully down
One can easily see how it is
Someone always offers the wolf
A place to live

Someone somewhere always dreams of
Being the fist on the table
And thus beneath the cloth of truce
Nothing happens

I know I know what one can say
And the risk of falling asleep
How man at his best and his worst
Is the problem

I know but it’s the Peace even so
The monster retreats before us
This that I defend that I love
Lives forever

It’s the Peace people know about
Vaguely everything more or less
Against the master for the slave
To be witness

It’s the Peace of the people
Deaf from roar of deepest liberty
It’s a silence of drumbeats
When May’s begun

It’s the Peace hued by evidence
Where the murderer left his name
To whom the veil of the widow
Cries out her No!

It’s the Peace that forces murder
Down to its knees for confession
And that cries out with the victims
Stop the killing!

Translation by Sylvia Manning, Glover, Vermont, October 2006 from Chant de la Paix in Les Yeux et la Mémoire by Louis Aragon, published by Gallimard, Paris, 1954.

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