Jacques Dupin
(France, 1927–2012)   
 
 
 
Jacques  Dupin

It is important, I believe, to assess what contemporary French poetry owes to the writing of Jacques Dupin. Despite its intentions, Surrealist exaggeration – or emphasis – had left behind it only devastation and the rhetoric of a subliminal roar. It was not clear where to begin again, or to speak up, or whether anything could be done which was not merely a denial of the thunderclaps of yesteryear.

Dupin, close in spirit to René Char, was able to understand that there was a spring close by, from which he could drink for a moment. However, no matter how vigorous and comforting, it was not his own. Oracular formulae too speedily deciphered the dawn, which to Dupin retained all the mystery of the dark hours. He was to find other mountain trails for himself, a thirst which could only be quenched in faraway, persistent aridity. He encountered a number of companions, such as the incisive and tenacious André du Bouchet. Then came infinite space, complicity with flint, the sky which wounds at midday, the gash in the depths of the body. Climbing, no longer aware of what one was leaving below, or of what one might find on the mountaintop, relying only on the little breath one had. Dupin has not failed. When he trips, he does not blame what he calls his exhaustion; he picks himself up and walks all the better for his impoverishment. Deprived of all – or nothing, write: to get rid of one's self, in destitution, like Japanese calligraphers before their ink bowls, to believe that a few signs remain, ready to appear on the bark of paper, not to save man from his insignificance, but so that he may once more feel this additional step or gesture towards a fading hillside or a plume of smoke.

Harsh lessons in loneliness, fragments of a self torn to pieces and suffocating, Jacques Dupin's words are strange viatica. They cut rather than heal. They feed the increasing wound which can only end with us. Possibly in order to carry on in the daytime, in the desperate insistence of daytime. Despite the night.

© Claude Esteban


 



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