Illuminations

-ILLUMINATIONS-


XXII

Dawn

FR: Aube

book

I have kissed the summer dawn.

Before the palaces,

nothing moved.

The water lay dead.

Battalions of shadows

still kept the forest road.

I walked, walking warm

and vital breath,

While stones watched,

and wings rose soundlessly.

My first adventure,

in a path already gleaming

With a clear pale light,

Was a flower who told me its name.

I laughed at the blond Waterfall.

That threw its hair across

the pines: On the silvered summit,

I came upon the goddess.

Then one by one, I lifted her veils.

In the long walk, waving my arms.

Across the meadow, where

I betrayed her to the cock.

In the heart of town she fled

among the steeples and domes,

And I hunted her, scrambling

like a beggar on marble wharves.

Above the road, near a thicket of laurel,

I caught her in her gathered veils,

And smelled the scent of her immense body.

Dawn and the child fell together

at the bottom of the wood.

When I awoke, it was noon..

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XXIII

Flowers

FR: Fleurs

book

From a golden step,– among silk cords,

green velvets, gray gauzes,

and crystal disks that

turn black as bronze in the sun,

I see the digitalis opening

on a carpet of silver filigree,

of eyes and hair. Yellow gold-pieces

strewn over agate, mahogany columns supporting

emerald domes, bouquets of white satin

and delicate sprays of rubies,

surround the water-rose.

Like a god with huge blue eyes and limbs of snow,

the sea and sky lure to the marble terraces

the throng of roses, young and strong.

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XXIV

Common Nocturne

FR: Nocturne vulgaire

book

A breath opens operatic breaches

in the walls,– blurs the pivoting of crumbling roofs,–

disperses the boundaries

of hearths,– eclipses the windows.

Along the vine, having rested my foot on a waterspout,

I climbed down into this coach,

its period indicated clearly enough

by the convex panes of glass,

the bulging panels, the contorted sofas.

Isolated hearse of my sleep,

shepherd’s house of my insanity,

the vehicle veers on the grass

of the obliterated highway:

and in the defect at the top

of the right-hand windowpane

revolve pale lunar figures, leaves, and breasts. —

A very deep green and blue invade the picture.

Unhitching near a spot of gravel. —

Here will they whistle for the storm,

and the Sodoms and Solymas,

and the wild beasts and the armies,

(Postilion and animals of dream,

will they begin again in the stifling

forests to plunge me up to my eyes

in the silken spring?)

And, whipped through the splashing of waters

and spilled drinks, send us rolling

on the barking of bulldogs…

–A breath disperses

the boundaries of the hearth.

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XXV

Seascape

FR: Marine

book

Chariots of copper and of silver

– Prows of silver and steel

– Thresh upon the foam,

– Upheavals the stumps and brambles.

The currents of the heath,

And the enormous ruts of the ebb,

Flow circularly toward the east,

Toward the pillars of the forest,

– Toward the boles of the jetty,

Against whose edge whirlwinds of light collide.

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XXVI

Winter Festival

FR: Fête d’hiver

book

The cascade resounds behind operetta huts.

Fireworks prolong, through the orchards

and avenues near the Meander,–

the greens and reds of the setting sun.

Horace nymphs with First Empire headdresses,–

Siberian rounds and Boucher’s Chinese ladies.

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XVII

Anguish

FR: Angoisse

book

Is it possible that

She will have me forgiven for ambitions continually crushed,–

that an affluent end will make up for the ages of indigence,–

that a day of success will lull us to sleep on the

shame of our fatal incompetence?

(O palms! diamond!– Love! strength!

– higher than all joys and all fame!–

in any case, everywhere– demon, god,

– Youth of this being: myself!)

That the accidents of scientific wonders

and the movements of social brotherhood

will be cherished as the progressive

restitution of our original freedom?…

But the Vampire who makes us behave

orders us to enjoy ourselves

with what she leaves us, or in other

words to be more amusing.

Rolled in our wounds through the wearing air and the sea;

in torments through the silence of the murderous waters and air;

in tortures that laugh in the terrible surge of their silence.

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XXVIII

Metropolitan

FR: Métropolitain

book

From the indigo straits to Ossian’s seas,

on pink and orange sands washed by the vinous sky,

crystal boulevards have just risen and crossed,

immediately occupied by poor young families

who get their food at the greengrocers’.

Nothing rich.– The city! From the bituminous desert,

in headlong flight with the sheets of fog spread

in frightful bands across the sky,

that bends, recedes, descends,

formed by the most sinister black smoke

that Ocean in mourning can produce,

flee helmets, wheels, boats, rumps.–

The battle! Raise your eyes: that arched wooden bridge;

those last truck gardens of Samaria; those faces reddened

by the lantern lashed by the cold night;

silly Undine in her noisy dress, down by the river;

those luminous skulls among the rows of peas,–

and all the other phantasmagoria– the country.

Roads bordered by walls and iron fences

that with difficulty hold back their groves,

and frightful flowers probably called loves and doves,

Damask damning languorously,– possessions of magic

aristocracies ultra-Rhinish, Japanese, Guaranian,

still qualified to receive ancestral music– and there are inns

that now never open anymore,–

there are princesses, and if you are not too overwhelmed,

the study of the stars– the sky.

The morning when with Her you struggled among

the glittering of snow, those green lips,

those glaciers, black banners and blue beams,

and the purple perfumes of the polar sun.– Your strength.

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XXIX

Barbarian

FR: Barbare

book

Long after the days and the seasons, and people and countries.

The banner of raw meat against the silk of seas and arctic flowers;

(they do not exist). Recovered from the old fanfares of heroism,–

which still attack the heart and head,– far from the old assassins.

— Oh! the banner of raw meat against the silk of seas and arctic flowers;

(they do not exist).– Bliss! Live embers raining in gusts of frost.–

Bliss!– fires in the rain of the wind of diamonds

flung out by the earth’s heart eternally carbonized for us.

— O world! (Far from the old retreats and the old flames,

still heard, still felt.) Fire and foam. Magic, veering of

chasms and clash of icicles against the stars.

O bliss, O world, O music! And forms, sweat, eyes

and long hair floating there. And white tears boiling,–

O bliss!– and the feminine voice reaching to the bottom of volcanoes

and grottos of the arctic seas. The banner…

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XXX

Promontory

FR: Promontoire

book

Golden dawn and shivering evening find our brig lying by opposite

this villa and its dependencies which form a promontory

as extensive as Epirus and the Peloponnesus,

or as the large island of Japan, or as Arabia!

Fanes lighted up by the return of the _theories_;

prodigious views of a modern coast’s defenses;

dunes illustrated with flaming flowers and bacchanalia;

grand canals of Carthage and Embankments of a dubious Venice;

Etnas languidly erupting, and crevasses

of flowers and of glacier waters;

washhouses surrounded by German poplars;

strange parks with slopes bowing down

the heads of the Tree of Japan;

and circular facades of the “Grands” and the

“Royals” of Scarborough and of Brooklyn;

and their railways flank, cut through, and

overhang this hotel whose plan was selected in

the history of the most elegant and the

most colossal edifices of Italy, America, and Asia,

and whose windows and terraces,

at the moment full of expensive illumination, drinks and breezes,

are open to the fancy of the travelers and the nobles who,–

during the day allow all the tarantellas of the coast,–

and even the ritornellos of the illustrious valleys of art,

to decorate most wonderfully the facades of Promontory Palace.

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XXXI

Stages

FR: Scènes

book

Ancient Comedy pursues its harmonies and divides its Idylls:

Raised platforms along the boulevards.

A long wooden pier the length of a rocky field in which

the barbarous crowd moves about under the denuded trees.

In corridors of black gauze, following the promenades

with their lanterns and their leaves.

Birds of the mysteries swoop down onto a masonry pontoon,

swayed by the sheltered archipelago of spectators’ boats.

Operatic scenes with accompaniment of flute and drum

look down from slanting recesses contrived below

the ceilings around modern club rooms and halls of ancient Orient.

The fairy spectacle maneuvers at the top of an amphitheater

crowned with thickets,– or moves and modulates for the Boeotians

in the shade of waving forest trees, on the edge of the cultivated fields.

The opera-comique is divided on a stage at the line of intersection

of ten partitions set up between the gallery and the footlights.

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