Alexis Bernaut

Le chien (Dog), Dieu (God), L’ombre qui boite (The Limping Shadow); Une mésange (A Chickadee): Alexis Bernaut

Le chien

Le chien aboie à l’écho de la montagne
qu’il lui rende son aboiement –

Tu sais, le chien
moi aussi j’ai aboyé
à mes rêves, à mes amis, mes quatre murs
et même mes dieux, si j’en avais eu
je leur aurais aboyé dessus –

J’ai aboyé à la vie
dans l’espoir qu’elle me rende
l’écho de mon premier cri

J’ai aboyé
moi aussi

The Dog

The dog barks at the mountain’s echo
– my barking! give it back

Dog, let me tell you
I’ve been barking too
at my dreams, at my friends, my walls

and had I had any
I would have barked at my gods, too

I’ve barked at life hoping
it would give me back
the echo of my first scream

I’ve been barking


est le plus ancien prisonnier politique
des Etats-Unis d’Amérique


was the first political prisoner
of the United States of America

L’ombre qui boite

À supposer

Que je sème du verre pilé
sous mes pieds pour savoir
si mon ombre elle aussi
s’y blesserait –

mon ombre
désunie de ma chair
sa route sans moi ?

Ou bien accepterait-elle
la blessure
pour prix d’être mon ombre ?

The Limping Shadow


I scatter crushed glass
under my feet
to find out whether or not
my shadow would also get wounded

Would my shadow
break free from my flesh and move on

Or would it accept the wound
as the price to pay
for being my shadow?

Une mésange

Une mésange est venue
toquer du bec sur la vitre

Interrogeant le son
la résistance
elle insistait

L’oiseau sans doute
ne sait-il rien du verre

Mais nous aussi nous connaissons
ces transparences
qui nous interdisent

A chickadee

A chickadee has come
tapping with its beak on the window pane

It checked both sound
and resistance

Birds are very likely
unaware of the glass

But like them we encounter
those transparencies
which arrest us

Alexis Bernaut is a poet, translator, and musician, born in Paris in 1977. His poetry has been published in several reviews and anthologies in France and abroad, and translated into English, Korean, Hebrew, and Rumanian. In 2016, he was invited to the Seoul International Writers Festival. He is the translator of, among others, US poet Sam Hamill, and Trinidadian novelist Earl Lovelace. His first collection of poetry, Au matin suspendu, was published in December 2012. His latest book, Un miroir au coeur du brasier, was published in May 2020.