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fleuve qui s'éveille' (76; I have all the confusion of a river awakening).
Through language reinvigorated by the river's silt ('limon'), the poet is
able to transcend the river as a source of inspiration to become the river,
flowing irrevocably out to sea - 'Je suis une source en marche vers la
mer / Et la mer remonte en moi comme un fleuve' (I am a spring flow-
ing towards the sea /And the sea rises in me like a river). The sea, the
vast transnational waters lying beyond the land-bound river, where
the poet's nation, formerly turned back on itself, turns out towards the
world - 'Mon pays chante dans toutes les langues / Je vois le monde
entier dans un visage / Je pèse dans un mot le poids du monde' (78-9;
My country sings in all languages / I see the entire world in a face / I
weigh in a word the weight of the world) - a determined expansion
marked by the alliteration of v 's, p 's, and m 's.
This movement of expansion seems to again foster a contraction back
towards the centre, as the poet reorients his country, himself, and his
work through the river ('Dans mon pays il y a un grand fleuve,' 79; In
my country there is a great river), which again inspires his language to
become a universal hymn - 'Je dis les eaux … Je dis ces mots … Je lance-
rai un chant dans l'univers/Je dispose couleurs et formes/J'unis et
j'agrandis j'abrège et je dénude / Je me construis un abri ici-bas' (I say
the waters … I say these words … I'll cast a song into the universe / I
make use of colours and shapes / I unite and I enlarge I shorten and I
strip / I construct myself a shelter here below). The repeated allusions
to communication ('je dis'), to poetry ('un chant'), to the poet's manipu-
lation of language ('Je dispose,' 'J'unis,' 'j'agrandis,' 'j'abrège,' 'je dé-
nude'), and to the poem itself as a sheltered place ('un arbi'), which the
poet has not regained but constructed by constructing himself ('Je me
construis'), mark these verses as the most intense metacritical moment
in the poem, especially falling as they do at the end of this canto.
But what are these words ('ces mots'), this name ('ce nom') that the
poet alludes to throughout this canto, and that he continues to seek in
the short canto five and well into the next, the poem's longest at eight
pages - 'En secret j'écoute bouger le nom nouveau' (81; In secret I listen
to the stirring of the new name)? Again it becomes clear that if he is to
find the name, to define identity, he must construct it: 'Et j'ai dessein
d'organiser/Ordonner afin de ne pas mourir' (81; I intend to orga-
nize / To order so as not to die). And once again it is nature, in the form
of the river, that summons him - 'Et le haut fleuve me prit par la main'
(82; And the high river took me by the hand). From its sludge ('vase'),
he creates a song - 'Je chante le plein air de l'homme / J'augure la neuve
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