Eyes, lakes of my simple passion to be reborn
Other than as the actor who gestures with his hand
As with a pen, and evokes the foul soot of the lamps,
Here’s a window in the walls of cloth I’ve torn.
With legs and arms a limpid treacherous swimmer
With endless leaps, disowning the sickness
Hamlet! It’s as if I began to build in the ocean depths
A thousand tombs: to vanish still virgin there.
Mirthful gold of a cymbal beaten with fists,
The sun all at once strikes the pure nakedness
That breathed itself out of my coolness of nacre,
Rancid night of the skin, when you swept over me,
Not knowing, ungrateful one, that it was, this make-up,
My whole anointing, drowned in ice-water perfidy.
Stéphane Mallarmé, The Clown Chastised
Hyperbole! From my memory
Triumphantly can’t you
Rise today, like sorcery
From an iron-bound book or two:
Since, through science, I inscribe
The hymn of hearts so spiritual
In my patient work, inside
Atlas, herbal, ritual.
We walked set our face
(We were two, I maintain)
Toward the many charms of place,
Compared them, Sister, to yours again.
The reign of authority’s troubled
If, without reason, we say
Of this south that our double
Thoughtlessness has in play
That its site, bed of a hundred irises,
(They know if it truly existed),
Bears no name the golden breath
Of the trumpet of summer cited.
Yes, on an isle the air charges
With sight and not with visions
Every flower showed itself larger
Without entering our discussions.
Such flowers, immense, that every one
Usually had as adornment
A clear contour, a lacuna done
To separate it from the garden.
Glories of long-held desire, Ideas
Were all exalted in me, to see
The Iris family appear
Rising to this new duty,
But the sister sensible and fond
Carried her look no further
Than a smile, and as if to understand
I continue my ancient labour.
Oh! Let the contentious spirit know
At this hour when we are silent
The stalks of multiple lilies grow
Far too tall for our reason
And not as the riverbank weeps
When its tedious game tells lies
Claiming abundance should reach
Into my first surprise
On hearing the whole sky and the map
Behind my steps, without end, bear witness
By the ebbing wave itself that
This country never existed.
The child so taught by the paths,
Resigns her ecstasy
Says the word: Anastasius!
Born for scrolls of eternity,
Before a tomb can laugh
Beneath any sky, her ancestor,
At bearing that name: Pulcheria!
Hidden by the too-high lily-flower.
Stéphane Mallarmé, Prose
To … Her
In winter we’ll travel in a little pink carriage
With cushions of blue.
We’ll be fine. A nest of mad kisses waits
In each corner too.
You’ll shut your eyes, not to see, through the glass,
Grimacing shadows of evening,
Those snarling monsters, a crowd going past
Of black wolves and black demons.
Then you’ll feel your cheek tickled quite hard…
A little kiss, like a maddened spider,
Will run over your neck…
And you’ll say: “Catch it!” bowing your head,
– And we’ll take our time finding that creature
– Who travels so far…
In the railway carriage, 7 October 70
Arthur Rimbaud, A winter dream
Graceful son of Pan! Round your brow crowned with flowers and berries your eyes, precious spheres, move. Stained with brown lees, your cheeks are hollow. Your eye-teeth gleam. Your breast is a cithara, chords chime in your pale arms. Your pulse beats in that belly where a double sex sleeps. Walk, at night, gently moving that thigh, that other thigh and that left leg.…
Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations 5 – AntiqueO my Good! O my Beauty! Atrocious fanfare in which I never falter! Enchanted easel! Hurrah for the unknown work and for the marvellous body, for the first time! It began in the laughter of children, it will finish so. This poison will linger in all our veins even when, the fanfare returning, we are delivered again to the old disharmony. Oh, we now so worthy of such tortures, let us fervently grasp this superhuman promise made to our created bodies and souls: this promise, this madness! Elegance, science, violence! They’ve promised the tree of good and evil will be buried in darkness, the tyrannical virtues will be deported, so we can bring here our love so pure. It began with certain disgusts and it ends – we being unable to seize this eternity all at once – it ends with a riot of perfumes.
Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, horror of the faces and objects here, hallowed be you by the memory of this vigil. It began with all boorishness, behold, it ends with angels of fire and ice.
Little drunken holy vigil! If only on account of the mask you’ve granted us. We endorse you, method! We’ve not forgotten that yesterday you glorified every century of ours. We have faith in poison. We know how to give our whole life every day.
This is the age of ASSASSINS.
Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations 11 – Drunken morning
It’s repose in the light, neither fever nor languor, on the bed or the field.
It’s the friend neither ardent nor weak. The friend.
It’s the beloved not tormented, and not tormenting. The beloved.
The air and the world unsought. Life.
– Was this it, then?
– And the dream cools.
The lighting returns to the centre-post. From the room’s two extremities, a stage-set of sorts, harmonic risers meet. The wall facing the watcher is a psychological succession of frieze-like intersections, atmospheric layers and geological undulations – Intense and rapid dream of deeply-felt groupings, with beings of all types in all perspectives.
The lamps and rugs of the vigil make the sound of waves, at night, beside the hull, around the rudder.
The sea of vigil like Amélie’s breasts.
The tapestries, half-way up, copses of lace tinted emerald, into which the turtledoves of the vigil dart.
The slab of black hearth, real suns of the beaches: ah, wells of magic; sole view of dawn, this once!
Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations 20 – Vigils
High over the ponds, high over the vales,
the mountains, clouds, woods and meres,
beyond the sun, beyond the ethereal veils,
beyond the confines of the starry spheres,
you ride, my spirit, ride with agility,
swooning with joy, at the wave, strong swimmer
and take your ineffable masculine pleasure,
cutting through that endless immensity.
Fly far away from this deathly miasma:
go, purify yourself in the upper air,
and drink like a pure and divine liquor,
what fills limpid space, that lucid fire.
Behind him the boredoms, the vast distress,
that imposes its weight on fog-bound beings,
happy the man, who on vigorous wings
mounts towards fields, serene and luminous!
He whose thoughts, like larks, go soaring,
flying freely towards dawn air, -
who glides above life: grasps, easily, there,
the language of flowers and silent Things!
Charles Baudelaire, Elevation
Great forests you frighten me, like vast cathedrals:
You roar like an organ, and in our condemned souls,
aisles of eternal mourning, where past death-rattles
sound, the echo of your De Profundis rolls.
I hate you, Ocean! My mind, in your tumultuous main,
sees itself: I hear the vast laughter of your seas,
the bitter laughter of defeated men,
filled with the sound of sobs and blasphemies.
How you would please me without your stars, O Night!
I know the language that their light employs!
Since I search for darkness, nakedness, the Void!
But the shadows themselves seem, to my sight
canvases, where thousands of lost beings, alive,
and with a familiar gaze, leap from my eyes.
Charles Baudelaire, Obsession
Images from: http://www.cytwombly.info/
Poetry from: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/