May none in tears or with reproach then slight
God's statement of His mastery,
Who, with majestic irony,
Gave me at once both these books and the night.
Of these books, now a city, lightless eyes
He made the owners; eyes, it seems,
Which in the libraries of dreams
Could only read some foolish tracts that tie
The sun-ups to their zeal. In vain the day
Upon them foists its endless tomes;
As toilsome as those ancient rolls
That once in Alexandria decayed.
From hunger and from thirst (says a Greek tale)
Near fonts and gardens dies a king;
Such confines I roam, tiring
Of this blind library, deep, blind, and pale.
Encyclopedias, atlases, the East,
The West, centuries, dynasties,
Cosmos, symbols, cosmogonies
Are fêted by these walls, if uselessly.
Slow in my shade, this hollow darkness free
With doubting cane I will entice;
I, who imagined Paradise
As being but a kind of library.
Some thing that certainly does not entail
That broad word "chance" – it rules these things;
Once, many blurry evenings
Another lost to books and to our shade.
As through slow galleries I go astray,
One sacred horror likes this plan:
That I'm this other, the dead man,
Perhaps with the same steps on those same days.
What matters then that word which forms my name,
(Which of us two has this verse spun,
Of plural I and shadow one?)
When our anathema is but the same?
Groussac or Borges, I thus gaze upon
Our world, unforming, fading fast
To palest and uncertain ash,
Akin to sleep or mere oblivion.