Un citadin / A City Dweller

By Jacques Réda b. 1929 Jacques Reda

Translated By Andrew Shields

The street I walk along I often see   
As if I'd long since left the moving surface   
Of the world for the endless other side that disperses   
Us all some day without return but free   

Of care. I apply myself so well to this fragile proceeding   
That very quickly my gaze ceases to be   
Part of the cloudy clump of hope and memory   
I'll have given my name to. But for this to succeed,   

A feeling of absolute happiness has to make   
Itself felt, as if from outside me, so much   
That at that moment the very street has a hunch   
That it, the entire city, and its uncertain space   

Have become one with the mobile but faithful pattern   
Of phrases written by our steps when we move about.   
I no longer know who's walking and marking out   
The ground, bit by bit, to the corner. My gaze then patterns   

Itself on tomorrow's unknown eyes, which will shine   
When from the roofs, posthumous and vague, mine glow,   
And my invisible trace on the asphalt below   
Might guide the élan of hardier passersby.   

Will they know what I sometimes suspect: what appears   
To be the distracted gaze with which we see   
The world is the world itself?—It sees and hears   
Itself through the thin transparency of our screens.

Source: Poetry (October 2000).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2000 issue of Poetry magazine

 Jacques  Réda


Jacques Réda is an eminent literary figure in Europe and especially in his home country of France. The author of both poetry and prose, he focuses much of his writing on the banality of life. He also has written extensively in both forms about jazz. Réda is widely known for his observations of the life around him as he travels throughout urban and suburban environments, especially those of Paris. One of his most highly . . .

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Poems by Jacques Réda

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Living, Cities & Urban Life, Philosophy, Social Commentaries


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