Michel Deguy (France, 1930)

Michel Deguy (France, 1930)

You Shall not Kill

You shall not kill
Your classmates, or your teachers
Nor your neighbors shall you kill
In Srebenica, Tel-Aviv or Yenín
Not because God is waiting for you drinking under the grapevine
Nor for your country or your ideas
You shall not kill
—“not” means
You shall not kill at all

You shall not kill the Érignac prefect
Under no pretext even that of Paoli’s forgotten glory
Not because God gave you your share of land
The next day after Genesis
Or because Mahomet and his ass
Took off from the terrace under the wings of an angel

You shall not kill for the baker woman’s cash register
Nor for the song of your acceleration at 3.5 alcohol grams
Or for the retired pimps’ beach under the Tropics
          You shall not kill for pleasure
                    Or to take revenge
Or because “you’re worth it”
          As L’Oréal drums into you
Being 300.000 years-old you’re too old
                              To try to be clever
Not because your neighbor’s odors cross over the floor
Or because the god in front has a horn

You shall not kill
Not because it was written on stone
But because you say it to yourself
                    Suddenly from the bottom of your heart
And because they say to you: it is better not to kill,
                                         believe us

You shall not even kill the hedgehog that slowly passes by
Not even the dove of St. Sulpice or
The hairy seal or the erotic rhinoceros
Nor the elephant that fills up the whole plaza
Or the gastronomical civet cat

You shall not kill
Because those that shouted to you to kill
Are more stupid that those that said no
You are at the age of reason to understand it
The age of disobedience according to Arendt
You will act by yourself and nothing good
                              Will command you to do so

Because there are no sub-men
                    There never were any
Because there is no longer a Voice falling from on high
Nor a scale with a pan for eternal life

Because death does not cry out for vengeance
And besides, doesn’t cry out anything for it no longer exists
Because you don’t need it to “say goodbye”
(that cliché full of Freudian remnants in TV)

Because one does not remake one’s life
Because you are not even another

Because you “don’t condescend to see anything”
To see nothing besides the vortex of the nebulae

Because it’s the first and the last And the only commandment

For Leo Ferré
July 14, 2003

Tranlated by Nicolás Suescún

Michel Deguy was born in Paris, France, in 1930. A poet, philosopher, critic and professor, he is one of the most notorious poets of contemporary French poetry. He is a professor at the University of Paris. Poetic work: Les Meurtrières (The murderers), 1959; Fragment du Cadastre (Fragment of the cadastre), 1960; Poémes de la presqu'ile (Poems of the peninsula), 1962 ; Biefs (Satins), 1964; Ouï-Dire (Rumor), 1966 ; Poémes (Poems 1960-1970); Poésie (Poetry), 1973 ; Interdictions du Séjour (Interdictions of the sojourn), 1975; Coupes (Cups), 1974); Essays: Actes (Acts), 1966; Figurations (Figurations), 1969; Tombeau de du Bellay (The Tomb of du Bellay), 1973; Reliefs (Reliefs), 1975; Le Monde de Thomas Mann (The World of Thomas Mann), 1962.
Última actualización: 28/06/2018