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« Fallen | Main | Une Vieille Maîtresse »
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?

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