Notes on The Galloping Hour

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NOTE ON THE EDITION

by Patricio Ferrari, editor of The Galloping Hour

Download a PDF version of these notes.

The Galloping Hour: French Poems is the first edition in book form (and most complete to date) of Alejandra Pizarnik’s French poems and art work. For this edition, I consulted the entire Pizarnik archive held at Princeton University, two small private collections (the Miriam Pizarnik Collection and the Ivonne Bordelois Collection) in Buenos Aireas, and part of Pizarnik’s personal library housed at the Biblioteca Nacional de Maestros [National Library of Teachers] in Buenos Aires.

The earliest reference to the poemas franceses [French Poems] as an integral part of the Pizarnik Papers dates from 2008 (Patricia Venti, Bibliografía Completa de Alejandra Pizarnik, Madrid, Del Centro Editores, p. 29). In April 2009, at Princeton, I transcribed the then unpublished poemas franceses and other French materials I located in the archive. On May 25, 2010, invited to the seminar Bilinguisme, double culture, littératures at the University of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, I presented a paper in which I argued that it was necessary for these materials to be published (Ferrari, “Pour une édition critique des poèmes français de Fernando Pessoa et d’Alejandra Pizarnik,” Traversées poétiques des littératures et des langues, Maria Cristina Pîrvu, Béatrice Bonhomme, and Dumitra Baron, orgs., Paris, L’Harmattan, 2013, pp. 423-50). Prior to this event, I shared my research with Cristina Piña, who, shortly thereafter, was commissioned by La Revue de Belles-Lettres in Switzerland to introduce and publish the thirteen French texts included in Part I of the present edition (Piña, “Los poemas franceses,” La Revue de Belles-Lettres, vol. 2, Lausanne, 2011, pp. 93-117). Except for the etching (reproduced in facsimile by Mariana Di Ció, Une Calligraphie des ombres. Les manuscrits d’Alejandra Pizarnik, Saint-Denis, PUV, 2014, pp. 102-103), the French texts in part II and the drawings have never been published before.

Since this isn’t a critical edition, neither signed variants nor editorial interventions are indicated. The same applies to discrepancies with Piña’s transcriptions. The punctuation of the original texts has not been altered.

The section of notes below includes the archive call number of each document, the type of document (manuscript [ms.], typescript [typ.], or mixed), the number assigned by the author, and date or approximate date [circa] of the document. The notes also include the archive location of Pizarnik’s Spanish translations of eight of her French texts, a few source texts of the French originals, and some cross-references in her published and unpublished poems.

I. POÈMES FRANÇAIS | FRENCH POEMS

1. Et quoi penser du silence? | And What to Think of Silence?

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, numbered “1” by the author. This folder contains Spanish self-translation titled “Desfundación” [Disfoundation] (circa 14 June 1967). An eponymous poem included in Extracción de la piedra de locura [Extracting the Stone of Madness] (1968) may be traceable to this French text.

2. Si pour une fois de nouveau | If for Once Again

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, numbered “2” by the author. This folder contains Spanish self-translation titled “Para volver a hallarte” [To Find You Again] (circa 14 June 1967).

3. Tout le long du jour | All Day Long

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, numbered “3” by the author. “Tu pleuves sur moi” [You rain over me] may be deliberate or result from an hispanism (the French verb “pleuvoir” [to rain] is generally conjugated in the third person singular or plural). This folder contains Spanish self-translation titled “L’Obscurité des eaux” [Obscurity of Waters] (circa 14 June 1967) (cf. Ferrari, 2013, pp. 446-447).  An eponymous poem included in El infierno musical [The Musical Hell] (1971) is traceable to this French text. In one of Pizarnik’s personal copies of El infierno musical, under the poem “L’Obscurité des eaux” (p. 47), we read the following autograph note: “escrito originalmente en francés” [originally written in French] (Myriam Pizarnik Collection). Previously included––with same reference printed in footnote––in Nombres y figuras: aproximaciones [Names and Figures: approximations] (1969, p. 12). Pizarnik extracted the title “L’Obscurité des eaux” from a passage in Artaud’s “Le Théâre alchimique” [The Alchemical Theater], an essay from 1938 collected in Le Théâtre et son double [The Theater and its Double] (Paris, Gallimard, 1966). Another source text for “L’Obscurité des eaux” is Joyce’s “Chamber Music,” a poem Pizarnik read in Neruda’s translation, as attests her cahier vert [green notebook] (p. 51) (Ivonne Bordelois Private Collection).

4. Toute la nuit | All Night

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, numbered “4” by the author. This folder contains two Spanish self-translations. The latest one reproduced in facsimile by Di Ció (2014, p. 288). A third (earlier draft) of the self-translation figures in a diary entry dated 14 June 1967 (Box 2 Folder 5). This entry serves to date the period during which Pizarnik returned to her French poems. Along with this draft we find other earlier self-translation drafts of texts no. 7, 8, and 10 (Box 2 Folder 5, pp. 1-3). “Linterna sorda” [Deaf Lantern], included in Extracción de la piedra de locura [Extracting the Stone of Madness] (1968), and “Sous la nuit” [Under the Night] (French title in the Spanish text), posthumously collected in Textos de sombra y últimos poemas [Shadow Texts and Last Poems] (1982), can be traced to this French text.

5. Le sexe, la nuit | Sex, Night

(Box 6 Folder 28). Mixed. Dated December 1961, signed, and numbered “5” by the author. This folder contains a previous ms. version (only four passages exhibit slight differences) dated “Samedi 22 décembre” [Saturday 22 December]. This, and other material evidence in one of Pizarnik’s diaries, indicates that the text dates from December 1962. Folder contains Spanish self-translation titled “Le sexe, la nuit” [Sex, Night]. There exists an earlier version of the self-translation titled “La nohce blanca” [Nuit blanche] with the following inscription: “S[ain]t-P[aul]-de-Vence, 1962” (Box 7 Folder 29). The poem “Alguien” [Someone] included in Textos de sombra y últimos poemas [Shadow Texts and Last Poems] (1982) is traceable to the opening of this French text. Lines 3-4 of poem 14 in Árbol de Diana [Diana’s Tree] (1962) echo a passage from this French text.

6. alexandra et arta | alexandra and arta

(Box 6 Folder 28). Mixed. Dated 2 September 1963, numbered “6” by the author. The French quote was extracted from “Dans un pays d’enfance…” [In a Country of Childhood…], poem by Oscar Vladislas de Lubicz Milosz (1877-1939), Lithuanian-French poet, playwright, and essayist (born in Mogilev; today Belarus) (Poèmes, Paris, Fourcade, 1929, pp. 17-18). This and other lines from Poèmes are copied in Pizarnik’s green notebook (pp. 6-8). Pizarnik penciled the first syllable of her name (“Al”) next to lines 1-2, 7-8, 19, 20-23 and the four syllables (“A-le-jan-dra”) next to lines 11-14 to indicate which ones she authored. The name Jeannine may refer to Marie-Jeanne Noirot, who Pizarnik befriended in Paris between the end of 1961 and the beginning of 1962 and with whom she kept a correspondence after returning to Buenos Aires in 1964. Arta may be a pseudonym used by Noirot. In a letter to Pizarnik from April 1965, Noirot excuses herself for employing “paroles brutales qui sont plutôt le style de Harta” [brutal words in the style of Harta] and that Alejandra, as she writes in the missive, does not seem to appreciate (Box 9 Folder 3). In 1968 Pizarnik dedicated to Noirot “En un otõno antiguo” [In a Distant Fall], a poem included in Extracción de la piedra de locura [Extracting the Stone of Madness] (1968).

7. Paroles du vent | Words of the Wind

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, with autograph rubric “Poemas franceses” and sequence letter “b.” This folder contains Spanish self-translation titled “Palabras del viento” [Words of the wind] (post 14 June 1967). An earlier version of the self-translation, datable to 14 June 1967, figures in the same diary along with other early self-translation drafts of texts n.o 4, 8, and 10 (Box 2 Folder 5, pp. 6-7). Lines 3-4 of poem 14 in Árbol de Diana [Diana’s Tree] (1962) echo a passage from this French text. The only text marked “a,” extant in this folder and that opens “Un gesto, una sombra” [A gesture, a shadow], is likely a ms. Spanish self-translation of a French text “a” which I have not located in any of the Pizarnik archives. Interestingly, a later ms. of the Spanish version labeled “a” exhibits the following note: “Escrito en francés en 1962” [Written in French in 1962] (Box 3 Folder 8, pp. 9-10). This Spanish text “a” contains echoes from Germain Nouveau’s “Le Baiser (III)” [The Kiss] in Valentines et autres vers, Paris, A. Messein, 1922 [1885]); the missing French text is at the origin of “Signos” [Signs], a poem included in El infierno musical [The Musical Hell] (1971). Pizarnik copied lines of this poem by Nouveau into her green notebook (p. 3).

8. Nue | Naked

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, marked “c” by the author. This folder contains a Spanish self-translation titled “Desnuda” [Naked] (circa 14 June 1967). A previous ms. version of the self-translation, datable to 14 June 1967, figures in the same diary as an early self-translation draft of texts n.o 4, 7, and 10 in this edition (Box 2 Folder 5, p. c.). There exist two other ms. versions in Box 7 Folder 29 and two in Box 3 Folder 8 (pp. 14-15) with the autograph note “Traducido del francés” [Translated from French]. “Memorial fantasma” [Ghostly Memorial], published in the Spanish Review Papeles de Son Armadans (n.o CLXX, Madrid-Palma de Mallorca, May 1970), and included in the posthumous collection Textos de sombra y últimos poemas [Shadow Texts and Last Poems] (1982), can be traced to this French text.

9. A toi | To You

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa. 1962, written below the previous poem in this edition.

10. Je te cherche dans le vent | I Check for You in the Wind

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, marked “d” by the author and followed by a question mark indicating doubt, possibly regarding the order of the sequence. This folder contains a Spanish self-translation titled “La noche, la niebla, la infancia” [Night, Fog, Childhood] (circa 14 June 1967). A previous ms. version of the self-translation, datable to 14 June 1967, figures in the same diary as early draft self-translation of texts n.o 4, 7, and 8 in this edition (Box 2 Folder 5, p. d).

11. Souvenir près de l’oubli | Memory Near Oblivion

(Box 6 Folder 28). Ms. circa 1962, written in the verso of previous poem.

12. Le temps tombant | The Hour Sinking

(Box 6 Folder 28). Typ. circa 1962.

13. Votre amant | Your Lover

(Box 3 Folder 8, p. 23). Ms. circa 1970/1971 in notebook with sticker of Pizarnik’s last residence: “Alejandra Pizarnik | Montevideo 980 | Buenos Aires.” There exists an earlier, longer version of this French text entirely crossed out with the following autograph note: “Poemas franceses | 1963” [French Poems | 1963] (Box 6 Folder 28); partially transcribed in Piña (2013, pp. 116-117).

II. AUTRES POÈMES FRANÇAIS | OTHER FRENCH POEMS

14. La nuit respirer la nuit | Night Breathing the Night

(Box 6 Folder 39). Ms. dated August 1960.

15. La mort est ici | Death is Here

(Box 6 Folder 39). Ms. dated August 1960, written below previous poem.

16. Un sommeil radieux | A Radiant Sleep

(Box 6 Folder 29). Ms. datable to July 1963. Above the poem figures a list of French words in Pizarnik’s hand: “évasion   surgir   radieux | feu   mourir | poisson   blesser”  [escape   to appear   radiant | fire   to die  | fish   to hurt].

Another list of words employed in this French poem, penned on other half of cut-out paper where this French poem was written, but located in a different box in Pizarnik’s archive (Box 4 Folder 9, p. 138) reads:

Burgos |[drawing of windowsill with flower pot and the contour of two silhouettes in the distance] | Mesón del Cid – | Las niñas – una niña de neuf años – prisión – || [three illegible words] | mer    s’allonger   endormi | pont   rire [illegible crossed out word] | grille   regarder   morne | horizon   s’assombrir   triste | guitare   ensoleiller   épanoui | héros   réfléchir   argenté | troupeau   tinter   sordide | prison   tenter   poussière”

[Burgos |[drawing of windowsill with flower pot and the contour of two silhouettes in the distance] | Mesón del Cid – | The girls – a nine year old girl – prison – || [three illegible words]  |  sea    to lay down     asleep |

bridge   laughter [illegible crossed out word] | gate   to look    gloomy | horizon    to darken   sad | guitar

to brighten up    blooming | hero   to think   silvery | herd   to chime  sordid | prison   to try    dust]

This half is glued into a notebook under the note “Burgos [Spain], 1963.”

17. Je joue un air d’amour aux cordes de cristal | With crystal chords I play love’s very tune

(Box 6 Folder 44) Ms. post January 1964 in notecard headed “Fichero | Lluvia” [Notecard | Rain]. The French lines written in French alexandrines are followed by two separate two-line unpublished fragments in Spanish.

18. Et maintenant  | And Now

(Box 5 Folder 12). Ms. circa 1970/1971 in notebook with some unpublished Spanish texts dated 1971.

19. Oh la lengua en el lugar | oh Language Already Here

(Box 3 Folder 8, p. 37). Ms. circa 1970/1971 in notebook bearing a sticker of Pizarnik’s last address: “Alejandra Pizarnik | Montevideo 980 | Buenos Aires.” First three lines originally in Spanish.

III. ANNEX

DESSINS | DRAWINGS

20-21. Oiseau - parapluie ou petite fille poursuivie par une ombre | Bird - Umbrella or Little Girl Hounded by a Shadow
Jeune chienne
  | Young Hussy

(Box 1 Folder 8). Ms. with two separate drawings circa November 1960. Signed “Alejandra.”

22-23. Je me mange et je m’affole | Devouring Myself And Panicking
formes humiliées
| Humiliated Forms

(Box 1 Folder 8). Ms. with two separate drawings circa November 1960.

24. Jeune oiseau psychanalysé  | Psychoanalyzed Birdie

(Box 1 Folder 8). Ms. with drawing circa November 1960.

25. étrangement sexuel | Strangely Sexual

(Box 1 Folder 8). Ms. with drawing circa November 1960.

26. Une main amie | A Friendly Hand

(Box 1 Folder 8). Ms. with drawing circa November 1960.

27. La volonté de tristesse | The Will to Sadness

(Box 1 Folder 8). Ms. with drawing circa November 1960.

GRATTAGE | ETCHING

28 Je me rappelle le vent | I Recall the Wind

(Box 9 Folder 22). Etching with autographed French text underneath signed “Alejandra.” Circa January 1962. First reproduced by Di Ció (2014, pp. 102-103).