René Char

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I believe in the magic and authority of words.
A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.

René Char (14 June 190719 February 1988), born René-Émile Char, was a 20th century French poet, and a member of the French Resistance forces of World War II.

Quotes[edit]

  • I believe in the magic and authority of words.
    • Message as a member of the French resistance, to his superiors in London, insisting that certain codewords "The library is on fire" be changed after a disastrous parachute drop which set a forest on fire and alerted the Gestapo to the location of his group of Maquis fighters, as quoted in René Char : This Smoke That Carried Us : Selected Poems (2004) edited by Susanne Dubroff
  • Why did I become a writer? A bird's feather on my windowpane in winter and all at once there arose in my heart a battle of embers never to subside again.
    • A statement written soon after the end of World War II, as quoted in René Char : This Smoke That Carried Us : Selected Poems (2004) edited by Susanne Dubroff
  • Un poète doit laisser des traces de son passage, non des preuves. Seules les traces font rêver.
    • A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.
      • As quoted in The French-American Review (1976) by Texas Christian University, p. 132
    • Variant translation: A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Only traces bring about dreams.
      • As quoted in Popular Dissent, Human Agency, and Global Politics (2000) by Roland Bleiker, p. 50
  • With my teeth
    I have seized life
    Upon the knife of my youth.

    With my lips today,
    With my lips alone…
    • "Mute Game", as translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson in Guernica : a magazine of art & politics (June 2007)

Quotes about Char[edit]

Char embodies the ideal of the poet fighting for the nobility of the world — the leader of a small resistance group dedicated to honoring the ten thousand things of the universe … Illumination was his theme, his method… ~ Susanne Dubroff
For me lightning lasts
René Char you are a poet who believes in the power of beauty to right all wrongs.
I believe it also.
With invention and courage we shall surpass the pitiful dumb beasts, let all men believe it, as you have taught me also to believe it. ~ William Carlos Williams
  • Char embodies the ideal of the poet fighting for the nobility of the world — the leader of a small resistance group dedicated to honoring the ten thousand things of the universe. Mountains and rivers, flowers and vipers, meteors and rain — everything teems with meaning for this poet. … Illumination was his theme, his method — "For me lightning lasts," Char declared. His work is an essay in revelation.
    • Susanne Dubroff, in René Char : This Smoke That Carried Us : Selected Poems (2004)
  • A tour de force into the ineffable.
    • Martin Heidegger, on Char's poetry, as quoted in Martin Heidegger : Between Good and Evil‎ (1999) by Rüdiger Safranski
  • I think
    of the poetry
    of René Char
    and all he must have seen
    and suffered
    that has brought him
    to speak only of
    sedgy rivers,
    of daffodils and tulips
    whose roots they water
    ,
    even to the free-flowing river
    that laves the rootlets
    of those sweet-scented flowers
    that people the
    milky
    way
  • The cries of a dying dog
    are to be blotted out
    as best I can.
    René Char
    you are a poet who believes
    in the power of beauty
    to right all wrongs.
    I believe it also.
    With invention and courage
    we shall surpass
    the pitiful dumb beasts,
    let all men believe it,
    as you have taught me also
    to believe it. 

External links[edit]

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