Jabès: over God in de eeuwen en de stilte

Edmond Jabès uit the Book of Questions: Truth – waarheid – over God, de stilte, de dialoog van eeuwen *


The Long Dialogue of Centuries

“All limits depend on light. Is God not the first, the original dark, in that case?

“And the first light to fathom the dark?”

“God is the all-embracing center. “

The other is the savage sense of the sun.

“The light shows many a kindness to the lie, yet truth is in the 


“The dark is dead passion, destroyed desire. Night loves the night with its radiance in mourning.”

“Silence is truth. Refusing to give, it gives us to see. 

“God is silence.”

“God does not see. He is entrenched behind what is seen.”

“God cannot be held back. He is the extreme of inconceivable sight.”

«And extreme darkness which gives us to ourselves in absence.”

”The invisible is both renunciation of the lie and the will to one only truth.”

“Mute melody of worn memories. Rust is fire on vacation. From the beginning, the hour has trusted the sea.”

«The hour in its darkness is a binary measure. We live in two times. Presence and absence take turns as its face.,,

“And neither face ever rules the other. So that the truth of the hour is a dizzying lack of being.”

” … an oblique opening.”

“So that man in his flesh and his thoughts exists where eternity leaves him behind.”

. where God is man’s Truth which He withdraws.”

. because death is life’s first blood.”

” … because death is the second life of God.”

“Thus the instant became the breath of the creature who bums and consumes himself in his breath.”

“Life continues beyond the day. Chased out of the garden in order to regain it (it will not be the same garden; it will only look the same) the instant, in every pulse beat of the world, is a rhythmic word.

“Thus the tree is aglow with a thousand similar words.”

“Truth often is rhythm. Man and universe participate in one joint existence.”

”The hour repudiates the hour, and eternity grows.”

“Margins are the lips of the well of time where death draws water.”

“Thus a river pushes at the weakest point of the bank. And the grass grows and bends with the same water, with long patience.”

“Thus flows time outside time.”

“Do we pay for the sin of knowledge by having our eyes torn out?

Appearance condemns us to appearance.,,

“Impossible truth. Invincible truth. The possible carries truth,

but outside its limits.”

“Going towards truth means going all the way. It means crossing all borders in order to look at them from the other side. Truth remains what is reached.”

“Worthy conquest of man where God takes refuge, rejected from His Creation.”

“God is not in the hand held out to another hand.”

“Grasping means accepting things as they appear, imposing and exchanging them in their conventional form, appreciating the latter as the only one or pretending to … “

“Reality is not in our hands. Touching a thing, our fingers and palms play at creating the illusion of a reality which can be caught in its still movement.,,

“How ingenious desire is in its forms and caresses.”

“Lies obey our touch. The senses have disqualified God and His essential insensibility, but have consecrated man without God.”

“The body remains a crossroad.”

‘”Cut off the hands,’ howls the fool year after year. ‘So the eyes can kindle.”‘

“What is not grasped has all the chances to become real.”

“We chat, waiting for time. Alas, we are only marking time.”

“Thus the word hardened as it lasted.”

“Thus the stone became flint.

“Anything expressed is above all a rose of sound. And the world will never fit in a word.”

“And God never stays One and the same as you approach.”

“Each for himself and both fused in the crystal of an idyllic mirror.

Seen, but not delivered.”

“Identity is distant. What is contemplated begins to contemplate.”

“Any fruit is an artificial star. You taste the manure of the abyss.

And soon the birds take off in fright.”

“Where are we when we fa ll silent? The word is the presence of a

forgotten presence.”

“. . . and the first gulp from the well and the course of the divide.”

“But what is promised soon grows dim here, as if the infinite were

a crowning feast.”

“But here the mirrors band together to reflect forever man’s last cry, his final cry for help. Here, the world in falling destroys the world.”

“Here man brings suit against the word on which he has thrown himself for the most beautiful love song.”

“Here man, with his soul in despair, leaves the word and shivers.”

“Distance is the truth of speech.”

“The wall with its coat of plaster is eaten by the sky. Thus glaciers rise in the whiteness of death.

“O harsh bed of snow, calm rind amazed by transparency.··

“Sheltered from the day, man faces his shadow.”

“We shall celebrate gardens. Spread mirrors. Glorify God.”

“God is at the back of the mirror and at the heart of the tree.”

”And the word, beseeched and denied, will be the axe man lifts against God…

“And man will perish by the axe.”

“O time of the Witness, red spider silence.”


Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions, Yaël, elya, Aely, Translated from the French by Rosmarie Waldrop, Middletown, Connecticut 1983, (Wesleyan University Press)

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