Le Chant des Ames

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					Le chant des âmes                                                              The Song of Souls:
                                                                               an Indian Sequence

Le chant des âmes                                                              The Song of Souls:
                                                                               an Indian Sequence
Textes et photographies de Jérôme THIRRIOT
                                                                               Texts and photographs by Jérôme THIRRIOT
Traduction de Bertrand MATHIEU
                                                                               Translations from the French by Bertrand MATHIEU

Remerciements                                                                  Thanks

A mon frère de cœur et d’esprit, Bertrand Mathieu,                             To my friend and soul-brother, Bertrand Mathieu,
et à mon ami Christophe Loiseau, photographe et tireur de mes photographies.   and to my friend, Christophe Loiseau, photographer and printer of my own photographs.

Photographies prises au Leica M2, Leica M6 et Leica CL.                        Photographs taken with a Leica M2, a Leica M6 and a Leica CL.
Objectifs 50 et 35 mm.                                                         Objectives 50 and 35 mm.
Pour Annie, ma muse,   For Annie, my muse,
à la fois              my Radha, my Sita,
ma Radha, ma Sita,     my Parvati,
ma Parvati.            all in one.
                                             JEROME THIRRIOT


                                             Jérôme Thirriot could well be called a man of light. Light has been a consistent preoccupation throughout his life,
                                             from his earliest childhood to the present – as poet, as photographer, as film professional, and more recently as a
                                             world traveler with a special devotion to India.

                                             To begin with, he was born in Paris, a city which the whole world has learned to refer to as “the City of Light”
                                             (“Ville-Lumière” in French). It was on July 15th, 1955, that he was born there to a family that had been intimately
                                             involved in film and movie-theaters for generations. His father, his paternal grandfather, his maternal grandfather
                                             and his maternal great-grandfather were all adepts of the cinema world in France.

                                             In fact, his great-grandfather, Ferdinand Jean, had been a man of theater and a pioneer in the film world who be-
                                             came acquainted with the renowned brothers Lumière (whose family name means “light”), Auguste-Nicolas (1862-
                                             1954) and Louis-Jean (1864-1948), the inventors of cinema and of film-making technique whose first public dem-
                                             onstration of their “cinématographe” in 1895 is now regarded as the birthday of cinema.

                                             As a child, Jérôme often heard of the illustrious brothers Lumière. He was also told that as a consequence of his
                                             great-grandfather’s meeting with these two “men of light”, his ancestor had built one of the first movie-houses in
                                             France. No surprise, then, that Jérôme himself should now be the co-director with his twin brother François of the
                                             vast and impressively modern METROPOLIS in Charleville-Mézières, a multiplex movie palace that seats 2,000
                                             spectators in ten different projection halls – and where, in addition, art-lovers in the Ardennes can be treated to fre-
                                             quent exhibits of paintings and art-photos in the theater’s many-windowed and light-filled lobby.

                                             Jérôme studied as a youngster in Neuilly-sur-Seine and in Nanterre, but he later settled in Rimbaud’s Ardennes
                                             where he has been living since with his muse-in-residence and professional collaborator, Annie Bissarette. As an ad-
                                             olescent, he had loved Rimbaud and Apollinaire as well as the films of Jean Renoir and Satyagit Ray – all of them
                                             “men of light” – and he lists high among his favorite writers Ernst Jünger, Knut Hamsun, Henry Miller, and Ken-
                                             neth White – visionaries and light-bearers, each in his fashion. But a first trip to India in 1977, at the age of 22, was
                                             destined to enlarge Jérôme’s spiritual horizons in a dramatic and surprising way. As a boy, he had often had mysteri-
                                             ous recurrent dreams about strange, exotic, bearded figures in turban-like headgear who seemed to incarnate an es-
                                             sential kind of wisdom, always in a luminous and distinctive setting which he wasn’t able to place. He was puzzled
                                             by these night-visitors. What did they want? What did they mean? Where did they come from? The landscapes of
                                             these dreams eventually became oddly “familiar”.

                                             In 1977 came the answers. On an impulsive one-way trip to Delhi, the youthful Jérôme met and fell under the spell
                                             of a captivating young Hindu dancer. She lost no time in informing him that his destiny was “waiting” for him in
                                             Kashmir – just like that! There was something oracular in her tone, something sybilline. Jérôme didn’t hesitate. He
                                             left immediately for Kashmir and, in Benares, soon after he arrived, he “recognized” the landscape of his childhood
                                             dreams! There it was, at last. Quite soon he found himself assiduously studying Hindu classical music under the
                                             guidance of the distinguished tabla player, Sri Chhote Lal Misra, who, it appears, had been quietly “awaiting” his
                                             arrival at the Music School of the University of Benares.

                                             On subsequent visits to India, it was not only his passion for Hindu music that drove Jérôme but also an earlier
                                             interest in photography which revived. The remarkable photos that accompany Jérôme’s poems in this issue of
                                             DOUBLE ROOM testify abundantly to the etymological meaning of the word “photography” – from Greek roots
                                             which signify “writing with light”. Anyone who scrutinizes these photos attentively will plainly see that between
                                             the lenses of Jérôme Thirriot’s camera and the ancient dream-landscapes of old Benares, there is an intricate dance
Jérôme Thirriot and Annie Bissarette, 2005
being danced before his or her eyes – the dance of Shiva!

But why Benares? Why indeed is it that Jérôme and Annie seem to be “called” again and again to Benares? Benares
is said to be the oldest city in human civilization. Our own Mark Twain called it “twice as old as tradition”! Jérôme
himself says he loves it because it seems to him to be the continuation of a life-long waking dream of his. It seems
to be “in time and beyond time (at once)”. It seems to him to be the Past perennially flowing, like the sacred river
Ganges, into the Present. In the Hindu religious tradition, Benares is seen to be a mystical rose born of the light of
the sun and the waters of Ganges. Each morning, numberless devotees descend to the banks of the Ganges to wash
away their sins, to adore the life-giving light of the sun – but also to die and be cremated!

Jérôme is struck by the enigmatic daily encounter here between life and death, between time and eternity, between
darkness and light. But there is seemingly no despair here. Hinduism has always seen light as a force that has
dominion, ultimately, over darkness. And that is what Jérôme Thirriot seeks to capture in both the faces and the
apparently inert objects which he photographs in Benares: the triumph of light. With him, one is almost tempted to
consider it a quasi-mystical calling. It came as no surprise to Jérôme the Dream-Beckoned when he learned, well
after his first visit to Benares, that Benares was formely called KASAI, a name which means “shining with divine

Bertrand MATHIEU
August 24, 2006.
Table des Matières                        Table of Contents

PROLOGUE :                                PROLOGUE :

Ram Nam Satya hai, le regard de Vishnou   Ram Nam Satya hai, the Glance of Vishnu
par                                       by
Bertrand Mathieu                          Bertrand Mathieu

Alaknanda                                 Alaknanda
La petite ramasseuse de feuilles           The Little Leaf-Gatherer
La ronde du premier jour                  Rondo of the First Day
Le maître de lutte                        The Wrestling Master
Le lutteur                                The Wrestler
Jay Ganga Maiki, Jay                      Jay Ganga Maiki, Jay
Magie noire                               Black Magic
Le petit mendiant                         The Little Beggar
L’initiation                              The Initiation
La fille du Gange                         Daughter of the Ganges
L’icône                                   The Icon
Puja                                      Puja
Le dormeur                                The Sleeper
Elle                                      She
Mrignayani                                Mrignayani
L’abandon                                 Giving Up
Le colosse aux pieds d’argile             The Colossus with Feet of Clay
Ram Nam Satya hai, le chant des âmes       Ram Nam Satya hai, the Song of Souls
PROLOGUE :                                                PROLOGUE :

Ram Nam Satya hai*, le regard de Vishnou                  Ram Nam Satya hai*, the Glance of Vishnu

par                                                       by
Bertrand Mathieu                                           Bertrand Mathieu

Elle n’est pas là entièrement seule.                      She isn’t there entirely alone.

Elle a des yeux qui le proclament.                        She has eyes that proclaim this.

Elle a des yeux qui sont une étrange noirceur,            She has eyes that are a strange, plasmic, nascent dark-
plasmique, naissante. Néanmoins son front émet            ness. Yet her forehead emits light, a lovely effluence
de la lumière, une belle effluence de lumière. Les        of light. The two form a troubled unison, a commin-
deux forment un unisson troublé, un mélange aussi         gling which is as soundless as the soul. Before it, the
silencieux que l’âme. Devant lequel la lumière du         daylight recoils!
jour a un mouvement de recul !
                                                          She seems intent.
Elle a l’air résolue.
                                                          She seems to hear, like distant reverberations of her
Elle a l’air d’entendre, comme des réverbérations         country’s indigent landscapes, a voice speaking not of
distantes des paysages indigents de son pays,             flight away from intolerable temporal conditions but
une voix qui parle non pas de la fuite très loin          towards a new light, a new realm of light. She knows,
de conditions temporelles intolérables mais vers          though, that this is no journey for feet like hers. Look
une nouvelle lumière, un nouveau domaine de               into yourself, the voice seems to be repeating.
lumière. Elle sait, pourtant, que ceci n’est pas un
voyage pour des pieds comme les siens. Regarde à          Perhaps all things have issued from fire. Or is it from
l’intérieur de toi, la voix semble lui répéter.           water? Perhaps they have sprung from Mind, cloth-
                                                          ing one fire with another fire. But night, she knows
Peut-être que toutes choses sont issues du feu ? Ou       perfectly well, closes in on every fire. Light is it own
est-ce de l’eau ? Peut- être qu’elles ont bondi de        abyss.
l’Esprit, revêtant un feu avec un autre feu. Mais la
nuit, et elle le sait parfaitement bien, cerne tous les   Perhaps this is a gaze by no means innocent but rather
feux. La lumière est son propre abîme.                    that of a brave child looking across a gulf and fixing it
                                                          with her own intentness.
Peut-être que ceci est un regard en aucune façon
innocent mais plutôt celui d’un brave enfant qui          She seems to understand that she is much less than the
regarde en travers d’un gouffre et qui le fixe avec       rain. She is a girl as fragile as a leaf. Perhaps when
sa propre détermination?                                  the wind blows and uncovers the hidden veil of her
                                                          glance, later on, there will be no one there to see it.
Elle a l’air de comprendre parfaitement qu’elle
est moindre que la pluie. Elle est une fille fragile      She’ll be there entirely alone.
comme une feuille. Peut être que quand le vent
soufflera et découvrira le voile caché de son re-         She lets the eyes of all those other girls gaze in the
gard, plus tard, personne ne sera là pour le voir.        opposite direction, into the limitations of the real, up
                                                          ahead – beyond the camera’s range.
Elle sera là entièrement seule.
                                                          She alone turns. She alone. And for a fleeting instant,
Elle laisse les yeux de toutes ces autres filles          we see the sun of Vishnu casting a glance at her.
regarder dans la direction opposée, dans les limita-
tions du réel, là-devant – hors du champ visuel de
l’appareil photo.

Elle seule se retourne. Elle seule. Et pour un court
instant, on voit le soleil de Vishnou qui jette un
coup d’œil sur elle.

* “Dieu existe, c’est la vérité.”                      * “God exists, that’s the truth.”
__________________                                     __________________

Hardiwar, Garhwal Himalaya, novembre 2004.             Hardiwar, Garhwal Himalaya. November 2004.
Photographie Jérôme Thirriot.                          Photograph Jérôme Thirriot.
Alaknanda                                          Alaknanda

Alaknanda                                          Alaknanda
sur ta rive                                        on your shore
je suis chair de nuage                             I am pulp of cloud
sur le fleuve du ciel                              on the stream of the skies –
terre de ciel                                      earth of sky,
ciel de terre                                      sky of earth –
dans ce temple d’après le déluge                   in this postdiluvial temple,
par la voix des dieux                              where by edict of the gods
se terre l’idole des flots furieux                 the idol of the raging torrent is impounded in earth.
- cloches, sonnez haut !                           – bells, bells, bells, ring loud !

__________________                                 __________________

Temple de Dhari Devi Kaliasur. Sources du Gange,   Temple of Dhari Devi Kaliasur. Sources of the Gan-
Garhwal Himalaya , novembre 2004.                  ges.
                                                   Garhwal Himalaya , November 2004.
La petite ramasseuse de feuilles                The Little Leaf-Gatherer

Elle habite la très haute montagne,             She lives on that high mountain,
centre et origine du monde,                     center and origin of the world ,
où le dieu Shiva courba la nuque                where the god Shiva bent the back of his neck
pour apaiser la rage des flots                  to appease the raging flood-tide
de la déesse Ganga descendue sur terre.         of the goddess Ganga descended on earth.
Elle habite le village                          She inhabits the village
où Shiva s’unit à Parvati,                      where Shiva was joined with Parvati,
fille de l’Himalaya.                            daughter of the Himalaya.

Au détour d’un virage,                          At the turn of the curve,
elle apparut dans la lumière                    she appeared amidst light
filtrée par les grands arbres,                  filtered by huge trees,
ramassant avec sa sœur                          gathering with her sister
les feuilles tombées de l’automne.              the autumn’s fallen leaves.
Je fis arrêter la voiture,                      I had the car halted
et m’approchant d’elle,                         and, easing up to her,
je la photographiai                             I caught her in a photo
alors que son étrange regard                    while her outlandish glance
me transperçait.                                harrowed me.

__________________                              __________________________

Village de Triyugi Narayan. Sources du Gange.   Village of Triyugi Narayan. Sources of the Ganges.
Garhwal Himalaya, novembre 2004.                Garhwal Himalaya, November 2004.
La ronde du premier jour            Rondo of the First Day

Au petit matin                      At the crack of dawn,
vibre le son de la conque           there vibrates the sound of the conch
au souffle puissant d’un sadhou     from the potent breath of a sadhu
célébrant le dieu Shiva.            celebrating the god Shiva.
Plus tard, à la pointe du jour,     Later on, as the day breaks,
vision du ballet tournoyant         vision of the whirling ballet
des oiseaux sur la barque           of the birds above the boat
au bord du Gange.                   on the bank of the Ganges.
Danse primordiale,                  Primeval dance,
ronde du premier jour.              rondo of the first day.
Instant suspendu de l’aube,         Instant suspended there at dawn,
alors que s’élève l’astre solaire   while the solar orb ascends –
que l’on peut encore regarder       a sun we’re able still
droit dans les yeux.                to look straight in the eye.

__________________                  __________________

Bénarès, février 2002.              Benares, February 2002.
Le maître de lutte                            The Wrestling Master

Je suis le maître du gymnase sacré.           I am the master of the sacred gymnasium.
Ici, je vis, je prie, je dors.                Here I live, I pray, I sleep.
Je suis le maître qui enseigne la lutte       I am the master who teaches wrestling
et apprend la vie.                            and learns how to live.
Adorateur du dieu Vishnou                     Worshipper of the god Vishnu
et du dieu singe Hanuman,                     and of the monkey god Hanuman,
par mon être et ma présence,                  by my being and my presence,
jour après jour,                              day after day,
nuit après nuit,                              night after night –
- corps et âme - ,                            body and soul –
je suis celui qui transmet la Connaissance.   I am he who transmits knowledge.
Maître de la sagesse,                         Master of wisdom,
j’entretiens le feu de la vie.                I sustain the fire of life.

__________________                            __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                       Benares, November 2004.
Le lutteur                                        The Wrestler

« Moi, je suis Hanuman aux bras infatigables.     « Myself, I am Hanuman of the indefatigable arms.
Ma force n’a d’égale qu’elle-même ! » *           My strength has no equal but itself ! » *

Chaque matin depuis mon enfance                   Every morning since my childhood,
je viens entraîner mon corps,                     I come to train my body,
forger mon esprit,                                to forge my spirit,
recevoir l’enseignement de mon maître de con-     to receive instruction from my master of knowledge
science et de lutte.                              and wrestling.
Hanuman, le dieu singe est mon modèle.            Hanuman, the monkey god, is my model.

Que sa force soit mienne                          May his strength be mine
lorsque j’affronterai les champions de l’arène.   when I face the champions of the arena.
Contenant le souffle dans ma poitrine,            Holding my breath in my thorax,
pieds fermement appuyés sur le sol,               feet firmly planted on the ground,
étirant mon buste et mes bras,                    stretching my chest and my arms,
je suis prêt à me lancer                          I am ready to hurl myself
dans le ciel.                                     to high heaven.

* Ramayana                                        * Ramayana
__________________                                __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                           Benares, November 2004.
Jay Ganga Maiki, Jay                               Jay Ganga Maiki, Jay
“Gloire à notre mère Ganga”                        “Glory to our Mother Ganges”

Retour à Bénarès                                   Return to Benares
dans mon fief d’Asi Ghat                           to my fiefdom of Asi Ghat
où le sable du fleuve                              where the sands of the river
recouvre les marches                               cover up the stone steps
de la plus vieille ville du monde.                 of the oldest city in the world.
En fin d’après-midi, je descends vers le fleuve.   At afternoon’s end, as I go down towards the river,
Me croise Gandhi réincarné.                        I come across Gandhi reincarnate.
Porteur de l’eau sacrée,                           Carrying the consecrated water,
il se dirige vers son temple                       he advances towards his temple
pour adorer les dieux tout puissants               to adore the all-powerful gods
et conjurer ses démons intérieurs.                 and conjure with his inner demons.

__________________                                 __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                            Benares, November 2004.
Magie noire                                Black Magic

Au pied des marches                        At the bottom of the steps
sur le Gange                               on the Ganges
un homme à l’antique beauté,               a man of pristine beauty,
joyeux et menaçant,                        joyful as well as threatening,
le rire démoniaque,                        laughing demonically,
parle à haute voix avec les dieux.         speaks out loud to the gods.
Kâli la Noire,                             Kali the Dark One,
déesse dévorante et grimaçante,            the ravenous and grimacing goddess,
ornée de son collier de têtes décapitées   adorned with her crown of decapitated heads,
semble le posséder.                        seems to have him in her power.
Peut-être a-t-il cru boire                 Perhaps he believes he’s sipped
à la coupe d’immortalité,                  from the vial of immortality –
ayant vendu son âme au diable,             having sold his soul to the devil,
et mangé la cervelle d’un cadavre          having eaten the brain of a cadaver
sur le lit de crémation.                   on the litter of cremation.

__________________                         __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                    Benares, November 2004.
Le petit mendiant                              The Little Beggar-Boy

C’est jour de grande fête.                     Today is a great feast day.
A l’aurore baignée de brume                    In a dawn bathed in haziness,
glisse la foule                                the crowd glides
vers le grand fleuve sacré qui la purifiera.   towards the great sacred river that will purify it.

Sur le chemin, un petit mendiant,              In the road, a little beggar,
tête rasée, tend la main                       his head shaved, puts out his hand
pour recevoir dans son écuelle                 to obtain in his mess-tin
le riz qui nourrira sa famille.                the rice that will feed his family.
C’était il y a mille ans,                      This was a thousand years ago,
               cent ans,                                  a hundred years,
               dix ans…                                   a decade...

           – maintenant!                          – right now!

__________________                             __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                        Benares, November 2004.
L’initiation                 The Initiation

Il fait froid.               It’s cold.
L’eau est glacée             The water is icy
… mais sacrée.               – but sacred.
Y accéder, c’est accomplir   By reaching it, I accomplish
ma destinée,                 my destiny.
perpétuer la tradition.      I perpetuate tradition.
Il fait froid,               It’s cold, I’m almost naked,
je suis presque nue,         the shore is steep,
la rive est pentue,          slippery with the silt
glissante du limon           of murky clay.
de glaise humide.            My two older sisters
Mes deux grandes sœurs       take me by the hand,
me tiennent par la main,     and into the Ganges
et dans le Gange             I will merge myself
je vais me fondre            before the sun
avant que le soleil          has pierced the haze.
ait percé la brume.

__________________           __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.      Benares, November 2004.
La fille du Gange                 Daughter of the Ganges

Elle surgit de l’onde.            Emerging from the waters – this sudden apparition.
C’est une apparition.             Goddess and daughter of the Ganges,
Déesse et fille du Gange,         each of her movements is grace absolute!
chacun de ses gestes              She lightly skims the slippery silt,
est grâce absolue.                not quite off balance – her arms are wings.
Elle frôle le limon glissant,     Tightrope-walker on an invisible wire,
presqu’en déséquilibre.           lightly swaying – she dances.
Ses bras sont des ailes.          She’s twenty years old.
Funambule sur un fil invisible,   She’s a hundred.
ondoyante,                        She’s beauty everlasting.
elle danse.
Elle a vingt ans,
elle a mille ans.
Elle est l’éternelle beauté.

__________________                __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.           Benares, November 2004.
L’icône                         The Icon

C’est une icône,                She’s an icon.
Longs cils courbes,             Long curving eyelashes,
nuque légèrement fléchie,       nape of neck slightly flexed,
profil,                         in profile,
pommette, joue… douceurs.       cheekbone, cheek... so ingratiating!
La corolle de sa robe blanche   The corolla of her white dress
souligne la délicatesse         underscores the delicacy
et la grâce de ses gestes.      and the grace of her gestures.
Poésie de sa présence.          A presence of sheer poetry.
Méticuleusement,                She’s preparing with meticulous care
elle prépare les offrandes.     some offerings.
A la nuit tombée,               When night falls,
leurs flammes se mêleront       their flames will mingle with the waters of the Ganges
aux eaux du Gange               that the pilgrims
que les pèlerins                will dimly brush against.
doucement effleureront.

__________________              __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2005.         Benares, November 2004.
Puja                                             Puja

Promenade sur les Ghats                          This evening, a stroll on the ghats under the full
sous la pleine lune.                             moon.
Assises sur les marches,                         Sitting on the steps quite near the river,
tout près du fleuve,                             two little girls are preparing puja to do homage to the
deux fillettes préparent la puja                 gods.
pour célébrer les dieux.                         In the fissure of a stone coping, they’ve placed a stick
Dans la fissure d’une margelle de pierre,        of incense
elles ont piqué un bâton d’encens                and lit up the wick coated with butter,
et allumé la mèche enrobée de beurre             then molded the minuscule terracotta cup
moulé dans une minuscule coupe de terre cuite,   where they’ve placed some dry leaves on a saucer
qu’elles posent sur une soucoupe de feuilles     fashioned by hand
sèches,                                          on which lies a carnation, plump and orange.
modelée à la main, sur laquelle repose
un œillet orange et charnu.                      Then only do they recite the mantras and set down on
                                                 the Ganges
Alors elles récitent les mantras                 the luminous offering which undulates downstream
et déposent sur le Gange                         and bears away their most secret wishes.
l’offrande lumineuse
qui vacille au fil de l’eau
et emporte leurs vœux
les plus secrets.

__________________                               __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                          Benares, November 2004.
Le dormeur                                          The Sleeper

Toute la nuit,                                      All night long, the sacred chants have resonated from
les chants sacrés ont retenti                       the tent on the banks of the Ganges, where rich and
sous la tente au bord du Gange                      poor have foregathered. At the frenzied peak of the
où riches et pauvres se sont rassemblés.            festivities, as the pitter-pattering of the drums exalts
Au paroxysme de la fête,                            the voice of the master of the chants, an aged beggar
alors que le crépitement des tambours               is seized by a trance. He covers his head with the cloth
exalte la voix du maître de chant,                  around his shoulders and hurls himself into a self-tran-
un vieux mendiant est saisi par la transe.          scending dance.
Il se coiffe de l’étoffe qui couvre ses épaules     Suddenly, he pulls out a fifty-rupee bill – a real for-
et entre dans la danse qui le transcende.           tune for him – and places it at the feet of the chanter.
Soudain, il sort un billet de cinquante roupies     I’m astounded by the utter nobility of his gesture. A
- une fortune pour lui- et le dépose au pied du     lovely beggar-woman who has lost an arm joins him,
chanteur.                                           with every fiber of her being, in his dance. In the
Ce geste de grande noblesse me bouleverse.          crowd, great numbers of children pulsate in unison.
Une jolie mendiante qui a perdu un bras danse       At daybreak, with the festivities still in full swing,
avec lui                                            one of these kids (withdrawn into himself) has fallen
de toute la fibre de son être.                      asleep, half-buried in some cloth on the ground which
Dans la foule, les enfants, nombreux, vibrent à     serves him as a makeshift bed.

Au lever du jour, la fête bat toujours son plein.
Et l’un d’entre eux s’est endormi,
replié sur lui-même,
à demi enfoui dans les draps du sol
qui lui font un lit de fortune.

__________________                                  __________________

Haridwar, Garhwal Himalaya, novembre 2004.          Haridwar, Garhwal Himalaya, November 2004.
Elle                                         She

Elle se campe,                               She plants herself there –
main sur la hanche                           one hand on her hip,
et me défie du regard.                       a look utterly defiant.
Elle est mendiante                           She’s begging
mais elle est libre.                         but she’s a free being
Et ses yeux me foudroient.                   and her eyes obliterate me.
Reine,                                       A Queen
        elle est.                                      – that’s what !

__________________                           __________________

Haridwar, Garhwal Himalaya, novembre 2004.   Haridwar, Garhwal Himalaya, November 2004.
Mrignayani                                             Mrignayani

Princesse effrontée,                                   Impudent princess in your raggedy dancehall gown,
dans ta robe de bal déchirée,                          you thumb your nose at the whole wide world.
tu es un pied de nez                                   Offhand and fragile, graceful and ungainly,
à la terre entière.                                    imperious and urchin-like, free spirit and skittish
Fragile et désinvolte,                                 beauty,
gauche et gracieuse,                                   you are of the seed of Mrignayani*.
impériale et va-nu-pieds,
esprit libre et beauté farouche,
tu es de la graine de Mrignayani *.

*Mrignayani – œil de biche – (XVème siècle),           * Mrignayani – doe-eyed – (15th century), the cow-
célèbre bouvière à la voix d’or qui subjugua le raja   herd with the golden voice who, with a simple wave
Man Singh, lorsqu’elle arrêta d’un geste de la main    of her hand, pacified two huge buffaloes locked in
le combat de deux grands buffles qui venaient de       combat under the eyes of the raja Man Singh as his
le faire rouler à terre après que son cheval se fut    horse, rearing up in terror, pitched him to the ground.
cabré de frayeur.                                      __________________
                                                       Orchha, November 2004.
Orchha, novembre 2004.
L’abandon                                    Giving Up

Tu es l’adorable petite brindille            You’re the adorable little twig
ballottée au gré des flots                   tossed about at the whim of the waters
du long pèlerinage                           on the tedious pilgrimage
vers les sources du Gange.                   towards the sources of the Ganges.

Alors que je te croise,                      As I pass you by,
tu dors profondément                         you’re soundly sleeping
sur l’épaule de ton père.                    on your father’s shoulder.

Et dans l’agitation de la rue,               And in the hubbub of the street,
je saisis un instant d’éternité.             I snap a bit of eternity.

__________________                           __________________

Haridwar, Garhwal Himalaya, novembre 2004.   Haridwar, Garhwal Himalaya, November 2004.
Le colosse aux pieds d’argile           The Colossus with Feet of Clay

C’est un symbole de Bénarès.            It’s one of Benares’ symbols.
Le grand temple de pierre ciselée       The great temple of chiseled stone
qui lentement se couche                 that’s slowly heeling over
au pied des Ghats,                      at the foot of the Gaths
sur la rive sableuse du fleuve          on the sandy shore of the river,
sapée par des décennies de crues.       undermined by decades of flooding.
Contre son flanc une barque renversée   Against its flank, an upturned boat
expose son ventre goudronné             exposes its tarry belly
soutenu par des étaies de bambou.       held up by bamboo props.
Equilibre fragile                       Delicate equilibrium –
du colosse aux pieds d’argile           a colossus with feet of clay
et de la barque de papier!              and a paper boat!

__________________                      __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                 Benares, November 2004.
Ram Nam Satya hai, le chant des âmes   Ram Nam Satya hai, the Song of Souls

En apesanteur                          In a state of weightlessness,
sept rames blanches                    seven white oars
sous la pleine lune                    under the full moon
discutent à bâtons rompus              discussing this, that, and the other
de l’air du temps.                     in a desultory fashion.
Ailes du Grand Moulin                  Wings of the great Windmill
battant, brassant, caressant           swinging, swaying, stroking
les flots célestes du fleuve           the celestial waters of the river which has
descendu sur terre                     come down upon earth
pour sauver l’humanité                 to save a humankind
si longtemps privée                    so long deprived
du souffle divin.                      of the divine afflatus.

Ram Nam Satya hai...                   Ram Nam Satya hai...
“Dieu existe, c’est la vérité.”        “God exists, that’s the truth.”

__________________                     __________________

Bénarès, novembre 2004.                Benares, November 2004.

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