Henry Bataille (Nîmes 1872 – Rueil-Malmaison, 1922)

A poet and a playwright. Buried at the cemetery of Moux, in a Renaissance fountain-shaped tomb: “Yes, I have lived with the idea of death for a long time. I have considered the world which surrounds me to be a burning fire which will go out eventually. This certainty has not disappeared with the regained certainty that I am still alive. I know that all this, which surrounds me, will perish. What is ill, is not in me, but in the world to which I belong, which turns and drags me along. And it is this world which will disappear. And that is the tragedy I am expressing, and that tragedy is my theatre and my life.”

Il y a de grands soirs où les villages meurent
Après que les pigeons sont rentrés se coucher
Ils meurent doucement, avec de bruit de l’heure
Et le cri bleu des hirondelles au clocher.
Alors, pour les veiller, des lumières s’allument,
Vieilles petites lumières de bonnes sœurs,
Et les lanternes passent, là-bas, dans la brume
Au loin le chemin gris chemine avec douceur........
Les fleurs dans les jardins se sont pelotonnées
Pour écouter mourir leur village d’antan,
Car elles savent que c’est là qu’elles sont nées
Puis les lumières s’éteignent, cependant
Que les vieux murs habituels ont rendu l’âme,
Tout doux, tout bonnement, comme de vieilles femmes.
 
There are those intense evenings when villages die
After the pigeons have returned home to rest
They die slow deaths, with the sound of the hour that chimes
And the blue call of the swallows in the bell-tower.
Therefore, to watch over them, lights are being lit,
Ancient and feeble lights like those in the hands of nuns,
And the lanterns go by, far off, in the mist
In the distance, the grey path gently makes its way...
The flowers in the gardens have snuggled up
And listen to the dying breath of their ancient village,
For they know that it is there that they were born,
Then the lights go out, while
The old familiar walls have passed away,
Gently, quite simply, just like old women.