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Reviews, essays, and translations

Entries in Mallarmé (5)

Wednesday
Feb262014

Mallarmé, "Le sonneur"

A work ("The bell-ringer") by this French poet.  You can read the original here.

And while the bell awakes in clearest chime,  
Against the limpid, pure, deep morning air, 
A passing child will humor Sunday's care,       
By angelus in lavender and thyme.  
 
Grazed by the bird he lights, the ringer waits,   
In saddest wheeze of ancient Roman plots, 
Astride the stone that holds the layman's knots,              
And hears a faint and distant ring abate.   
 
I am that man.  Alas, from wanton night 
Comes the Ideal in cables black and blue,                        
And from cold sins there frolics plumage true.  
 
This hollow voice I hear in fragment's flight! 
One indistinct tired day, I'll yank the stone,   
And on the gallows, Satan, end my moan.

Saturday
Jan192013

Mallarmé, "Renouveau"

A work ("Spring-tide") by this French poet.  You can read the original here.

Serene-arted winter, lucid in its squall,   
The morbid spring has sadly chased away;
Yet in my blood, still bleakness holds its sway,     
As impotence into long yawns will sprawl.

Like coronals atop an old sad grave, 
White crepuscules above my skull grow warm;
Whilst I through vague and lovely dreams roam on ,
Through sap-strewn fields immense which prance and rave. 

Rankl'd, weary from the tree-borne scents, I swoon,  
And with my face, so dig my dream a pit, 
And bite warm earth that feeds the lilacs' bloom;

I sink in hope that this ennui will quit ...
The Azure laughs now at the waking hedge,  
And flower'd birds chirp at the sunlight's edge.   

Sunday
Sep302012

Mallarmé, "Dans le jardin"

A work ("In the garden") by this French poet.  You can read the original here.

The lady youth who walks upon the lawn,
In summer trim of apples and of charms,
Where noon eclipses twelve with both its arms, 
And stops her lovely steps amidst its brawn,

As tragic, forlorn spouse, one time did tell 
To Death, seducing then her poet: "Woe!
"You lie, O vain realm! Jealous am I so
"Of this false Eden sad where he shan't dwell."

'Tis why the deepest flowers of the earth, 
Love him with silence, mystery and lore,
While in their hearts the purest pollen sleeps;

And come the breeze, by these delights he keeps
A name for goblets to be drunk in mirth:
"Helène!" his feeble voice will always roar!

Wednesday
Feb232011

Mallarmé, "Las de l'amer repos..."

A work ("So weary of my bitter rest ...") by this French poet.  You can read the original here.

So weary of my bitter rest and sloth, 
What once as child I gloriously denied,
Adorable in woods of rosy froth, 
Beneath sky blue, far lazier am I

To cross in evening, as agreed, the void,
So new amidst my brain's cold hungry lands,
O merciless digger with sterile hands!
What would one say to Dawn and Dreams allòyed

To roses, when in fear of petals pale, 
This cemetery will join its empty moats?
I wish to leave this land's greedy ways
This cruel mockery of old reproach –

In short, my friends are genius and the past, 
My lamp who knows, truth told, my agony,
Like Chinese of clear mind and heartfelt glee, 
Whose purest joy remains our end to cast

On snowy cups beneath a gladsome moon
Of flower strange, perfuming limpid life, 
This flower grafted, found by child jejune,
Upon the soul's filigreed blue stripes.

And death becomes the sage's only dream, 
Serene amidst my choice of landscape new,
Which I, distrait, upon the cups would hue. 
If but a thin pale line of blue, it seems:

A lake beneath a naked porcelain sky,
This crescent now lost in the whiteness bare, 
Its placid horn adip ice waters' lie,
By three great emerald lashes, this reedy lair.

Sunday
Jan042009

Mallarmé, "Les fenêtres"

A work ("The windows") by this renowned French symbolist.  You can read the original here.

Fatigued by hospice bed and incense foul  
Aloft in plainest white against the drape,    
To empty wall's pale Cross of bulging shape,
The sly and dying man addressed his scowl.

He lurched, yet not to warm his coil's decay, 
But to behold the sun upon the stones, 
To press his body's thin white hairs and bones  
To sunbed windows of fierce browning ray.

Azure blue, hungry, hot, his mouth still young 
A treasure of past days anew breathed in,
And spoiled warm squares of gold, sweet virgin skin,
With long and bitter kisses now far-flung.

And drunk, forgetting fears of holy oils,
He finds the clock, his bed, the tisanes while
He coughs; and when the evening bleeds on tiles
His eye, gorged on horizon's brightness, toils.

He sees fine golden galleys there asleep,
A purple river's swans in perfume's haze,
The rich and tawny flash of their lines sways 
In unimportant waves of sights he'll keep.

Thus seized by horror for an austere soul,
Now wallowing in joy and met desires, 
I stubbornly pick through the refuse mires
To aid the woman suckling her young foal.

I flee and hang upon these windows bare    
From which I turn my back to life and news, 
In their glass blessed, washed with eternal dews
Which gild the chaste and endless morning glare.

Angelic in mirrors, I love and die
And may these panes be mystic or be art
To be reborn, a crown of dreams apart 
Where beauty blooms in tender bygone sky!

Alas, the earth is master here; its dread 
Will sicken me, safe from my nemesis, 
And foolish musings' impure emesis
Obliges me to hold my breath instead.

And I, whom bitterness knows well, should I
Then break the crystal, break the monster's toy
Escape on unplumed wings in search of joy,
And risk eternal fall in darkest sky?