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Now available in print ~

Henri Michaux / Louise Landes Levi. Toward Totality I (Vers La Completude) & Toward Totality II (Vers La Completude) . Longhouse, 2006. First edition. Fold out accordion booklets. New. Limited editions. $10 per booklet plus $2 s/h.Now online -

Also Online - Henri Michaux / Louise Landes Levi. Toward Totality I (Vers La Completude)


Toward Totality II



  A monotonous noise does not necessarily calm. The drill calms
no one, except perhaps the driller...Nevertheless, it is in monotonous
sounds that one has the greatest chance of finding calm.
  What is agreeable in the sound of wind blowing through a forest
of pine is that this sound has no edge, it is round. But there is nothing
of the gloomy. (Or does it calm by inducing us to imagine an eminent
and debonair being, unable to definitely unhinge itself?)
  However, one must not look too much to the top of the pines
being blown by strong wind. For if one begins to imagine oneself
seated on their apex, in such a balancing act, one could, and even
more naturally than if one were to find oneself on a swing (or in
an elevator), due to the strange and superb movement up there, feel
oneself carried away, and, although forcing oneself not to think about
it, certainly far from wanting to meditate on this balancing, one is
ceaselessly, occupied with it, one feels oneself always at the vacillating
top of a pine, one can no longer return to earth.


  It is also necessary to pay great attention to the sea. Stormy days,
one is accustomed to walking on the cliffs. And however full the sea
is of menaces, and despite the coming and going of its forces that
seem to grow at each instant, the spectacle is beautiful and all in all
truly comforting, because this great excitation and these enormous
packets of water, packets to overturn a train, all this only gets you a
little bit wet.
  However, if there is a cove where the violences of the sea,
perhaps less strong, but coming from several directions, unite in a
mixed trouble, it might not be to good to look, for while the greatest
violence did not succeed in demoralizing you, to the contrary, this
surface without horizontally without bottom, basin of a rising water,
descending, hesitant as if it is suffering, as if it, itself, had difficulty
(its movements have become slow and embarrassed and as if
calculated), this water will make you feel in yourself the absence of a
true base that in any case can serve, and even the floor, following the
movement of your spirit seems to give away beneath your feet.

  That which I know, that which is mine, is the indefinite sea.
  At twenty one I escaped the life of the cities, enlisted, became a
sailor. There was work on board. I was amazed. I had thought that
on a ship one watched the sea, that one endlessly watched the sea.
  The boats were laid up. It was the beginning of a standstill for
the people of the sea.
  Turning my back, I left. I said nothing. I had the sea within me,
the sea eternally around me.
Which sea? This is something I would be unable to state precisely.



  I heard the crowd of the spanked speaking of pride, says the
Master of Ho. And I did not laugh.
  New laws have been prepared. New laws have come. The laws
accumulate says the Master of Ho. But it is still the edict of the old
dwarf, scattered leaves of an already uprooted tree.
  Calm, says the Master.
  Calm and worry. These are the peregrinations of the doe and
the panther until finally they meet. O moment! O extraordinary
moment! and everything becomes so simple, so simple.

  Calm, says the Master of Ho.


Labyrinth, life, labyrinth, death
Labyrinth without end, says the Master of Ho.

Everything buries, nothing frees,
The one who suicides is reborn to a new suffering.

The prison opens onto a prison.
The corridor opens another corridor:

He who believes he unwinds the thread of his life
Unwinds nothing at all.

Nothing leads nowhere,
The centuries also live underground, says the Master of Ho.


  Everything falls, says the Master of Ho. Everything falls, already
you wander in the ruins of tomorrow.
  The man who talks to you is Sphinx. The man who you were,
the father that you had, was Sphinx. And then,
what did you understand of the Sphinx who made you submit?
  He who does not dissolve the one who comes to him, a Sphinx,
grows there and it is from this Sphinx that one dies.

  Everything hardens, says the Master of Ho, everything hardens
and returns to the skull. The incomplete gesture, the faltering of
the heart, the remark that strikes the ear is him, it is he himself, not
understood, who will wound you and who, in time, will obstruct
you, endlessly, with hard rocks.

  Everything sediments. Everything turns into stone, says the
Master of Ho. From the lip to the stone, from the ray to the ruin.


  He whose destiny it is to die must be born. Alas, a thousand
times alas for the births, says the Master of Ho. It is an enlacing
which is an interlacing.
  One loses in gaining. One retreats in approaching. The girl with
the tight yoni, however great her heart, has a fault.
Many fine things have them.

  Take from me the scholar, says the Master of Ho. The coffin of
knowing has limited his thought. O! Liberty says the Master. Take
from me he who sits down to think.
  Speak first. Speak and you will not be ignorant. First attain, and
then you will approach.
  Everything flows, says the Master of Ho. Everything overflows.
Everything is there.

  A look with the wings of a dragonfly poses itself on the loved
one and rhymes the World without the knowledge of he who must
sing of it.

Unhappiness whistled to his little ones and designated me.
  “It’s him, he said to them, don’t leave him alone anymore.”
And they no longer left me alone.

Unhappiness whistled to his little ones,
  “It’s him, he said to them, don’t leave him alone anymore.”
They have no longer left me alone.


But You, when will you come?
One day, stretching out Your hand
In the quarter where I live,
in the mature moment when I truly despair;
in a second of thunder,
uprooting me with terror and sovereignty,
from my body and from the scabbed body,
from my thoughts-images, ridiculous universe;
leaving in me Your horrible probe,
the dreadful drill of Your presence,
raising itself up in an instant on my diarrhea
Your great and insurmountable cathedral,
projecting me not like a man
but like a mortar shell in the vertical path

You will come, if you exist,
attracted by my waste,
my odious autonomy.
Coming from Ether, from it doesn’t matter where, from beneath
  my overwhelmed self, perhaps;
throwing my match in Your immeasurableness,
and goodbye, Michaux.

And then, what?
Never? No?
Say, Great fortune, where then do you wish to fall?

Translations by Louise Landes Levi

Most of these poems were translated in Bombay
& Udaipur, India, 1970-1971. They & other works
were revised with the author in Paris, France, 1976-1977.

When asked in an interview, what poets he read —
“I read, above all, those archaic texts of
foreign peoples for whom poetry is not
something isolated, it comes spontaneously,
one doesn’t know how.”
~ Henri Michaux.

Toward Totality I, Henri Michaux translated by Louise Landes Levi


Now available in print ~

Henri Michaux / Louise Landes Levi. Toward Totality I (Vers La Completude) & Toward Totality II (Vers La Completude) . Longhouse, 2006. First edition. Fold out accordion booklets. New. Limited editions. The set $15.95 (+ $2 s/h) / Individually, booklets are $10 each.

As an act of goodwill and for poetry - Longhouse is sending out each month complete publications - online - of one poet (or more) we have published in booklet, broadside or postcard form for everyone to share. It's a way of giving back to many of you who have sent to us poems, letters, purchases and the same goodwill over the years. The series will fly in under the banner of our Woodburners We Recommend. It should also be felt as a certain warmth in memory to all our close and dear poetry comrades passed along - each one becoming more of a loss. Each monthly booklet will also be available for purchase from Longhouse. Issued in a very limited keepsake edition of 50 copies. Starting in 2006 we will begin to reissue and present past issues from Longhouse of select poets. For those readers that travel back as far as 1972 when Longhouse began, you know poetry was released like bandits by the day, by the week, by the month, and always free. We have never taken on grants and meant poetry to be seen & heard & on poetry terms. From 2006, into the Infinite, and within the universal cyber cosmos, we would like to share multiple poets with you....and only ask that you share them further.


© February 2006 by Louise Landes Levi

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