What else can we do
but garden our shadows
while far away
the universe burns and vanishes.
Andrée Chedid

The Final Poem

A forge burns in my heart.
I am redder than dawn,
Deeper than seaweed,
More distant than gulls,
More hollow than wells.
But I only give birth
To seeds and to shells.
My tongue becomes tangled in words:
I no longer speak white,
Nor utter black,
Nor whisper gray of a wind-worn cliff,
Barely do I glimpse a swallow,
A shadow’s brief glimmer,
Or guess at an iris.
Where are the words,
The undying fire,
The final poem?
The source of life?

The Voice

Where is the distant voice
That speaks like my soul?

Buried beneath daylight’s clamor
Gold and the seasons

Beneath groaning streets
And the ferment of cities

In my grave of care
And blond laughter

In what bare tomb must I lie
To summon the voice
That speaks like my soul?

The Ever-Patient Woman

In the flowing sap
In her growing fever
Parting her veils
Cracking out of her shells
Sliding out of her skins

The ever-patient woman
gives herself

In her volcanoes
In her orchards
Seeking solidity and measure
Clasping her most tender flesh
Straining every fine-honed fiber

The ever-patient woman
gives herself

Andrée Chedid

© Estate of Andrée Chedid


* On her site there’s a link to her “Creative Process.”  Interesting. Worth your time.

Bibliothèque Andrée-Chedid, 36 Émeriau Street (Paris), Photograph courtesy of Celette under CC BY-SA 4.0

Andrée Chedid (1920 – 2011) was an Egyptian-French poet and a novelist of Lebanese descent. She was of the Syriac Maronite Church. I believe she is better known for her fiction here in the States but I appreciate her generally spare style and think her poetry is not to be missed. She questions the human condition and asks what binds us to the world. Not unexpectedly the perfume of the orient wafts through her poems. She denounced the Lebanese Civil War.

Ms. Chedid moved to France post-WW II and remained there for the rest of her life. She was the recipient of many literary awards and was a Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour (2009). A public library was named for her in Paris (2012). Her Amazon Page U.S. is HERE. Her Amazon Page U.K. is HERE.

Jamie Dedes:

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