A New Risset Poem

Umberto Todini, Jacqueline Risset‘s widower, sent me this poem. Unpublished in her lifetime, French and Italian versions appeared in the French magazine Poesie after her death (thanks to Todini).  “Look” showcases some of the recurrent themes of Risset’s poetic and intellectual work: the desire to collapse the distances between self and other and between thought and feeling, as well as her tendency to spatialize the mind through metaphor.

Here’s my English version:

Look

I feel the features
one could say arrows
rails
that come here
from the shining point
picked for this action
which gilds
and goes on

That which I want
desire
is your act
to surprise the act
gesture
by what
you bring
that which you see
elsewhere (in me)
in the heart

a protected space
where you hold
yourself
and live
look
I want to enter
your body’s gesture
to see myself
seeing
from out of your eyes
governed by this
heart
which escapes me

—Jaqueline Risset (from 14 Poems, New and Old)