From Henri Michaux’s sequence “Ravaged People”:
On a vast expanse of liquid plain, in a colossal, ponderous, Protestant canoe that has come down from the North, he stands, stiff and alone, alone as a man can be when he is not on the path to salvation, when, in the dark zone, he has forced his way through the forbidden passage. All around, the water: absolutely calm, neither moved nor loved, heavy water.
On this horizontal plane where his progress is painful, as if he were on an uphill climb, the man of withdrawal, hermit of the “Absolute,” shows only his back, straight as a wall.
He is inhabited by the seriousness of the one Idea. Serious against them all. Certain among them all. Nonetheless, a melancholy, a distress fit for the end of the world, an irreversible fatality inhabit the cold landscape through which he, who is so wrong about himself, is passing.
The heavy manoxylic pirogue is sinking slowly into the dead space.
Overcast sky. One-winged birds. Branchless trees.
Translated by David Ball in Darkness Moves: An Henri Michaux Anthology: 1927-1984 (University of California Press, 1994).