‘Hiatus irrationalis’: A Poem by Jacques Lacan in Translation

by Simon McNamee

Below is a translation of a poem by Jacques Lacan, ‘Hiatus irrationalis,’ by me.
            Lacan’s poem first appeared in the surrealist magazine Le phare de Neuilly (issue 3), a monthly revue edited by Lise Deharme lasting four issues, in 1933; it was again published in 1977 in Magazine littéraire II (1977): 121. I have included a transcription of the version that appears in the latter below, following my translation.[1]
            It is very much a creative and poetic translation rather than a literal one and is a rendering of the work in a new, or at least different, manner (even going as far as not retaining the Latin title); with this, it is obviously formally different and veers from what might be considered a ‘direct’ translation. I have attempted to retain the ‘spirit’ of the text but in as much as it is mediated by my poetic sensibilities, it should not be taken to be, strictly speaking, a representation of Lacan, but simply a partial representation together with a presentation of the translator – but then, how could translation be anything else?


Gisèle Prassinos - Chevelure arrogante


the yawn of nonsense


things in you the flow of sweat or sap
forms in you born of furnace or blood
your stream my dream more dense

and if my desire ceaseless incessant
does not defeat nor devour you

I wade your water to reach the shore
lured by the weight of my δαίμων
alone I fall upon your soil         being rises
evil deaf and blind   god deprived of sense

and in an instant
all words perish

things in you born of blood or furnace
nature        I lose myself in its flux

that which burns sickly in me raises you
forms in you the flow of sweat or sap
for you my love is a fire eternal

(trans. simonmcnamee)


Hiatus irrationalis


Choses, que coule en vous la sueur ou la sève,
Formes, que vous naissiez de la forge ou du sang,
Votre torrent n’est pas plus dense que mon rêve;
Et si je ne vous bats d’un désir incessant,

Je traverse votre eau, je tombre vers la grève
Où m’attire le poids de mon demon pensant.
Seul, il heurte au sol dur sur quoi l’être s’élève,
Aus mal aveugle et sourd, au dieu privé de sens,

Mais, sitôt que tout verbe a péri dans ma gorge,
Choses, que vous naissiez du sang ou de la forge,
Nature,—je me erds au flux d’un élément:

Celui qui couve en moi, le même vous soulève,
Formes, que coulee n vous la sueur ou la sève,
C’est le feu qui me fait votre immortel amant.

(in Allaigre-Duny, 29)


The original publication can be viewed online here: [https://monoskop.org/images/8/80/Le_Phare_de_Neuilly_3-4_1933.pdf]. A comparison of the two published versions, noting the changes that have been made, can be viewed here: [http://aejcpp.free.fr/lacan/1929-08-06.htm].

The first image is ‘Chevelure arrogante’ by Gisèle Prassinos. The second image is of Anna Karina, taken from Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou.