In the service of blood by Michel Houellebecq

Translated by Delphine Grass and Timothy Mathews


I no longer go on trips, really,

Because I know the place

And I know my rights,

And I’ve lived through rage.

In the service of humanity,

In the middle of the estate,

I know my bedroom well

And feel the night descend.

Angels take flight

In the glory of heaven

They will find God;

And the women have fun.

Tied to the table,

Sat in the estate,

The slow intensity

Of the relentless night.

At night in the estate

The slow immensity,

The cruel vision

Torn off from the sky

Of a shape that moves

Pulsating and red.

In the service of blood

The sleepy disgust,

The cruel ends of love

The blown-up bits of the real;

And all that for what?

The idea of a vision

The end of a song

Men losing hope

Waiting for rage

For exploding bodies,

Squatting, wounded,

Hoping for carnage.

I bring the ingredient

Of the final hatred,

My teeth are grinding,

Evil seeps in.

I know the tricks

Of a crushed flesh

I overdo it, I’m told

But I feel exonerated

By human suffering,

By hopes dissatisfied

By the dense crushing

Of superfluous days.

I am not serene

But I am at home,

Angels are holding my hand

I can feel the night falling.


Taken from The Art of Struggle by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Delphine Grass and Timothy Mathews, published by Alma Books at £10.99 (


Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq lives in County Cork, Ireland. He is the bestselling author of Atomised, Platform, Whatever and The Possibility of an Island. He is also a poet, essayist and rap artist.

Delphine Grass has written a doctoral thesis entitled The Poetics of Humanity in the Novels of Michel Houellebecq at University College London. Her poetry has been published in various French and English-language journals. She is a member of the A Verse poetry group based in La Sorbonne, Paris.

Timothy Mathews is Professor of French and Comparative Criticism at University College London. He is author of Reading Apollinaire. Theories of Poetic Language (Manchester University Press 1987 and 1990), and Literature, Art and the Pursuit of Decay in Twentieth-Century France (Cambridge University Press 2000 and 2006).

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