Monday, March 24, 2008

robert bresson, francis ponge, a correspondingly particular sound

ciment: do you like poets like francis ponge? your films remind one of him, and his le parti pris des choses.
bresson: yes. i no longer see ponge, unfortunately, as he has moved to the south. he wrote me some remarkable letters about my films and about cinema. i like his fondness for objects, for inanimate things.*


in the courtyard where i watch it fall
the rain is coming down in widely varied measure.
a filmy discontinuous screen (or tracery) at the center
it's an unrelenting shower
relatively slow but rather sparse
an endless light precipitation
fractional concentration of sheer liquid meteor.
close by the walls to the right and left
heavier individualized
the drops come louder in their fall.
nearby they seem the size of wheat grain
over there a pea elsewhere almost a marble.
on window frames and railings the rain scuds horizontally
while on the undersides it clings in rounded lozenges.
molding to the entire surface of a small tin roof
that's visible below
it trickles in a thing skim moiréd in eddies
from the imperceptible bumps and ripples of the metal sheet.
in the adjoining gutter
it sluices along with all the application of a shallow rivulet gently pitched
then plunges abruptly
an absolutely vertical strand rather loosely tressed
straight to the ground where it shatters
and dashes up in glittering bead-tipped needles.

each of its forms has its own particular pace
a correspondingly particular sound.
it all exists intensely
a complicated mechanism precise as it is fortuitous
like clockwork whose mainspring is the weight of a given
mass of vapor in precipitation.
the chiming of vertical strands against the ground
the gurgle of the gutters
the tiny gong tones
all proliferate and resound together in concert
with no monotony with delicacy.

when the main spring runs down
some few wheels churn on awhile
slower and slowerthen the whole mechanism comes to a halt.
at that point if the sun comes out again
everything soon vanishes
the glittering apparatus evaporates.
it has rained. **

* from i seek not description but vision: robert bresson on l'argent (interview with robert bresson by michel ciment) found in robert bresson edited by james quandt, cinematheque ontario, 1998

** francis ponge, le parti pris des choses, éditions gallimard, 1942
in english as the nature of things, red dust, 2000

1 comment:

the art of memory said...

"rain" poem also found in "selected poems" by francis ponge, a very nice little book,
and the bible: "the random house book of 20th century french poetry", edited by paul auster (lost this goddamn one years ago, keep wanting to get another copy, hard not having the bible in the house.)