Georges Bataille

translated by Rachelle Rahmé

I have nothing to do in this world

if not to burn

I love you to death

your lack of repose

a wild wind whistles in my head

you are sick with laughter

you run from me for a bitter void

it tears your heart out

tear me apart if you want

my eyes find you in the night

burns from fever


You take me right up to the end

the agony has begun

I no longer have anything to tell you

I speak of the dead’s house

and the dead are mute.


You are the nightmare

I love you as we moan

you are feeble as death

I love you as we rave

you know that my head dies

you are the fullness of fear

you are pretty as we kill

the heart excessive I’m losing breath

your belly is bare like the night.


Endless face

of God

this sir and

his lady


it kills me

and you.


I lay

the needle

of my heart

I cry


that I’ve forgotten

I open

the edge

of a tear

where the dawn




Starry sky

my sister

men accursed

star you are the death

a great chilling light

lightening’s solitude

absence of the man at last

I rid myself of memory

a deserted sun

erase the name

star I see her

her icy silence

it cries like a wolf

on its back I fall to earth

she kills me I divine her.

GEORGES BATAILLE (1897-1962) was a French philosopher who wrote prolifically on general economy, eroticism and aesthetics. He also experienced creatively rich periods that resulted in a sizeable corpus of transgressive literature and poetics. These translations are from the selection 27 Poems On Death (o-blēk editions, 2021), translated by Rachelle Rahmé. Comprised of poems written by Bataille during the Nazi occupation of France, 1940-1944, Rahmé too worked on these translations during the height of the Covid lockdown, among the sirens, and fascist Trump years. Bataille’s heightened poetic activity and need for ‘the impossible’ during this period can only be ascribed to an inner revolt and deep disdain for Vichy France, National Socialism and fascism, as well as the harrowing material pressures of wartime life and longing for an ecstatic freedom.

RACHELLE RAHMÉ is an independent scholar and poet. She is the author of Count Thereof Upon the Other’s Limbs (72 Press, 2019) and the chapbook Bataille’s Eggs (b l u s h, 2021), among others. She is the translator of 27 Poems On Death (o-blēk editions, 2021), a selection of Bataille’s Occupation poetry. Rahmé poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, the tiny, Fonograf, and The Recluse, among others. She is a St. Mark’s Poetry Project fellow for 2021-2022. She is a Lebanese-American born in Jounieh, based in Brooklyn, NY. She is @rr.rahme.