Un panier de framboises BY NATALIE CLIFFORD BARNEY
Si tu veux que je reste auprès de toi
Disperse moins ta voix,
Prends le diapason
De l'intime durée
Et qu'on donne avec le thé
Un plus grand pot d'eau chaude.
If you want me to stay with you
Lower your voice,
To the intimate moments
And let us have a large pot
Of hot water with the tea.
Comme il y a des fruits de table, il y a des chairs prédestinées, des chairs "à couteau."
Like fruit for the table, there is flesh predestined "for the knife."
Il passera ses vacances comme d'habitude, sur une plage d'une platitude aveuglante, dans un édifice en pierre carré, nommé "palace," campé au niveau de la dernière vague, sentant la grue, la porte tournante, le billet de vanque et le radiateur éteint.
As usual, he will spend his vacation on a beach of blinding banality, in a building of stone blocks called a "palace," located at the level of the last wave, smelling of the prostitute, the revolving door, the bank note and the silent radiator.
"Vous avez de jolies épaules," me dit-elle, en remontant ma robe de façlon ce qu'on ne les vit plus.
"You have pretty shoulders," she told me, while lifting my dress so that one could no longer see them.
Il esquissa quelques gestes de galanterie fatiguée.
--Non dit-elle, "une robe de femme doit tomber, et non se relever."
He went through the motions of a weary politeness.
--"No," she said, "a woman's dress must fall, not to be lifted."
The third is born of a couple, he inherits this natural law: one and one make three. There are the third-born, predestined; fortuitous thirds--owing to chance and to circumstances; second-hand thirds--these do not remain the third: they pair off and forfeit themselves, while waiting for another third to dislodge them. Nearly everyone is a third of this sort--almost no one is a pure type of third. There are the united "III," the three sides of a triangle, and the shape of a heart, and of a clover and of a "triscele."
The third can be the first--and the first the third, these elements of the trinity are interchangeable. The best position, but the most difficult to maintain, is a trinity where no one is the third.
The couple, which is a struggle for the supremacy or the suppression of one over the other--occasionally accommodates the third, the insulator or hyphen between them (like between certain words which are found to be ennobling, for example: "bien-aime". . . ). But of all the balancing acts, the one of the trinity is the most perilous. Either the two approach to such an extent that the insulator is bothersome, or the hyphen is suppressed, crushed. . . reduced to its most simple expression: no longer leading to anything?
The function of the third is diverse: a beast of burden in the steep ascents--a restraint in the difficult descents--useless on level ground where all goes well thanks to momentum--but as the course which the couple undertakes is quite rough, the third is quickly called back to help.
We are only interested here in the exceptional third of exceptional cases.
The couple is a noose.--The couple tightens its bonds and here the third feels compelled to be inspired, to find reasons for being when they no longer exist--or else abandons the part.
In such a case the third, who sees himself becoming the last, cuts short his plight, leaves his solitude for which he no longer finds a use. . . or blends painlessly like water into all which is not an embrace.
The couple is Charybdis and Scylla: only water can surround these rocks which are fatal to anything consistent.
But how little they risk by it: one needs to be so gifted in immateriality.
The third, having become the last, is an indication of the moment of his removal--or his alliance. If he waits patiently, before long he will become the Intruder, or the Animator; because love is a heavy burden for two people and happiness is only monotony.
In leaving as the pure and simple leave, he destroys the chance of a threefold happiness--and the possibility of diversity. And diversity is the quality which best nourished this divine parasite.
Then, the element of Satan returns in the hand-to-hand struggle--which tempts and drives the couple from its Eden--and guides their straying. Thus the third, having been the Arrogant One, becomes the first.
Residents in a three-dimensional world of which we do not understand the Whole--we confront the solution and dissolution of continuity. Tenacious and possessive, like Paolo and Francesca, doomed to a Hell of Exclusiveness, or blended and in harmony like the Three Graces who become the Three Fates in old age--and pass at will among themselves the thread of destinies. They are equal. But could there be equal parts? Could the third have the best part?
To be a third, it is necessary to be the strongest of the three. . . the three which the third epitomizes.
But who will talk of the hell of the third and the violence of his passion. No concession, no respite: to always outdo oneself! Otherwise how could one be followed by the other two? The third, who always risks being the forsaken one, needs the coquetry of an angel.
Je l'attendais et elle n'est point venue, serais-je plus jeune que je ne le crois?
I waited for her and she did not come, could I be younger than I thought?
Tu es tellement plus belle que tout ce qui peut t'arriver.
You are so much more beautiful than anything that could happen to you.
Je voyage aussi mal qu'un panier de framboises.
I travel as poorly as a basket of raspberries.
Le blanc ne peut être porté que par celles qui en irradient.
White can only be worn by those who shed light.
--translated by Patrice Titterington
Excerpts included here appeared originally in three books by Barney: Eparpillements
(1910), Pensées d'une Amazone (1918), and Nouvelles Pensées d'une Amazone (1918)