Illuminations

-ILLUMINATIONS-


XXXII

Historic Evening

Soir historique

book

On an evening, for example, when the naive tourist has retired

from our economic horrors, a master’s hand awakens

the meadow’s harpsichord;

they are playing cards at the bottom of the pond,

mirror conjuring up favorites and queens;

there are saints, veils, threads of harmony,

and legendary chromatics in the setting sun.

He shudders as the hunts and hordes go by.

Comedy drips on the grass stages.

And the distress of the poor and of the weak

on those stupid planes! Before his slave’s vision,

Germany goes scaffolding toward moons;

Tartar deserts light up; ancient revolts ferment

in the center of the Celestial Empire;

over stairways and armchairs of rock, a little world, wan and flat,

Africa and Occidents, will be erected.

Then a ballet of familiar seas and nights,

worthless chemistry and impossible melodies.

The same bourgeois magic wherever the

mail-train sets you down.

Even the most elementary physicist feels that it is no longer possible

to submit to this personal atmosphere, fog of physical remorse,

which to acknowledge is already an affliction. No!

The moment of the seething cauldron, of seas removed,

of subterranean conflagrations, of the planet swept away,

and the consequent exterminations, certitudes indicated

with so little malice by the Bible and by the Norns

and for which serious persons should be on the alert.

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 XXXIII

Movement

FR: Mouvement

book

A winding movement on the slope beside the rapids of the river.

The abyss at the stern, The swiftness of the incline,

The overwhelming passage of the tide,

With extraordinary lights and chemical wonders.

Lead on the travelers Through the wind spouts of the valley

And the whirlpool. These are the conquerors of the world,

Seeking their personal chemical fortune;

Sport and comfort accompany them;

They bring education for races, for classes, for animals

Within this vessel, rest and vertigo. In diluvian light,

In terrible evenings of study.

For in this conversation in the midst of machines,

Of blood, of flowers, of fire, of jewels,

In busy calculations on this fugitive deck,

Is their stock of studies visible,

— Rolling like dike beyond The hydraulic propulsive road,

Monstrous, endlessly lighting its way —

Themselves driven into harmonic ecstasy

And the heroism of discovery.

Amid the most amazing accidents,

Two youths stand out alone upon the ark,

– Can one excuse past savagery?

– And sing, upon their watch.

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XXXIV

Bottom

FR: Bottom

book

La réalité étant trop épineuse pour mon grand caractère, – je me trouvai néanmoins chez Madame, en gros oiseau gris bleu s’essorant vers les moulures du plafond et traînant l’aile dans les ombres de la soirée.

    Je fus, au pied du baldaquin supportant ses bijoux adorés et ses chefs-d’oeuvre physiques, un gros ours aux gencives violettes et au poil chenu de chagrin, les yeux aux cristaux et aux argents des consoles.

    Tout se fit ombre et aquarium ardent. Au matin, – aube de juin batailleuse, – je courus aux champs, âne, claironnant et brandissant mon grief, jusqu’à ce que les Sabines de la banlieue vinrent se jeter à mon poitrail.

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XXXV

H

FR: H

book

All things unnatural fly in the face

of Hortense’s atrocious gestures.

Her solitude is the mechanism of love;

her lassitude, its dynamic.

Under the supervision of children,

she has been, in many ages,

the burning hygiene of all races.

Her door is open to destitution.

There, the morality of beings of

the present is disembodied in

her passion or her actions

– O terrible shudder of unpractised loves

on the bleeding ground and in

transparent hydrogen! find Hortense.

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XXXVI

Prayer

FR: Dévotion

book

To Sister Louise Vanaen de Voringhem – her blue coif turned towards the North Sea – For the shipwrecked.

To Sister Leonie Aubois d’Ashby. Baow! – the bussing, stinking summer grass. – For the fevers of mothers and children.

To Lulu – demon – who has, still a taste for the oratories of the period of Les Amies and her incomplete education. For men – To Madame ***.

To the adolescent that I was. To this hold old man, hermitage or mission.

To the spirit of the poor. And to a very high clergy.

Also to every cult in such a place of memorial cult and among such events that one must surrender, according either to the aspirations of the moment or to our serious vice.

This evening, to Circeto of the icy heights, fat as a fish and illuminated like the ten months of the red light – (her heart amber and spunk) – as my only prayer which shall be as silent as those regions of nights, and shall go before feats of daring more violent than this polar chaos.

At any price, under the semblance, even in metaphysical journeys – But then no more.

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XXXVII

Democracy

FR: Démocratie

book

“The flag goes with the foul landscape,

and our jargon muffles the drum.”

In the great centers we’ll nurture

the most cynical prostitution.

We’ll massacre logical revolts.

In spicy and drenched lands!–

at the service of the most monstrous

exploitations, industrial or military.

“Farewell here, no matter where.

Conscripts of good will,

ours will be a ferocious philosophy;

ignorant as to science, rabid for comfort;

and let the rest of the world croak.

This is the real advance. Marching orders, let’s go!”

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XXXVIII

Fairy

FR: Fairy

book

For Helen, in the virgin shadows and the

impassive radiance in astral silence,

ornamental saps conspired.

Summer’s ardour was confided

to silent birds and due indolence

to a priceless mourning boat

through gulfs of dead loves

and fallen perfumes.

-After the moment of the woods women’s song

to the rumble of the torrent in the ruin of the wood,

of the tinkle of the cowbells to the echo of the vales,

and the cries of the steppes.

– For Helen’s childhood, furs and shadows trembled,

and the breast of the poor and the legends of heaven.

And her eyes and her dance superior

even to the precious radiance,

to cold influences, to the pleasure of the unique

setting and the unique hour.

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XXXIX

War

FR: Guerre

book

When a child, certain skies sharpened my vision:

all their characters were reflected in my face.

The Phenomena were roused.

— At present, the eternal inflection of moments

and the infinity of mathematics

drives me through this world where

I meet with every civil honor,

respected by strange children

and prodigious affections.

— I dream of a War of right and of might,

of unlooked-for logic.

It is as simple as a musical phrase.

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XL

Genie

FR: Génie

book

He is love and the present because he has opened our house

to winter’s foam and to the sound of summer,

He who purified all that we drink and tea;

He is the charm of passing places,

the incarnate delight of all things that abide.

He is affection and the future,

the strength and love that we,

standing surrounded by anger and weariness,

See passing in the storm-filled sky and in banners of ecstasy.

He is love, perfect and rediscovered measure,

Reason, marvelous and unforeseen,

Eternity: beloved prime mover of the elements, of destinies.

We all know the terror of his yielding, and of ours:

Oh delight of our well-being, brilliance of our faculties,

selfish affection and passion for him, who loves us forever…

And we remember him, and he goes on his way…

And if Adoration departs, then it sounds, his promise sounds:

‘Away with these ages and superstitions,

These couplings, these bodies of old!

All our age has submerged.’ He will not go away,

will not come down again from some heave.

He will not fulfill the redemption of women’s fury

nor the gaiety of men nor the rest of this sin:

For he is and he is loved, and so it is already done.

Oh, his breathing, the turn of his head when he runs:

Terrible speed of perfection in action and form!

Fecundity of spirit and vastness of the universe! His body!

Release so long desired, The splintering of grace before a new violence!

Oh, the sight, the sight of him!

All ancient genuflections, all sorrows are lifted as he passes.

The light of his day! All moving and sonorous

suffering dissolves in more intense music.

In his step there are vaster migrations than the old invasions were.

Oh, He and we! a pride more benevolent than charities lost.

Oh, world! and the shining song of new sorrows.

He has known us all and has loved us.

Let us discover how, this winter night, to hail him from cape to cape,

from the unquiet pole to the chateau,

from crowded cities to the empty coast,

from glance to glance, with our strength and our feelings exhausted,

To see him, and to send him once again away…

And beneath the tides and over high deserts of snow

To follow his image, his breathing, his body, the light of his day.

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XLI

Youth

FR: Jeunesse

book

I

Sunday

Problems put by, the inevitable descent of heaven

and the visit of memories and the assembly

of rhythms occupy the house,

the head and the world of the spirit. —

A horse scampers off on the suburban track,

and along the tilled fields and woodlands,

pervaded by the carbonic plague.

A miserable woman of drama, somewhere in the world,

sighs for improbable desertions.

Desperados pine for strife, drunkenness and wounds.

— Little children stifle their maledictions along the rivers.

Let us resume our study to the noise of the consuming work

that is gathering and growing in the masses.

II

Sonnet

Man of ordinary constitution,

was not the flesh a fruit hanging in the orchard;

O child days; the body, a treasure to squander;

O to love, the peril or the power of Psyche?

The earth had slopes fertile in princes and in artists,

and lineage and race incited you to crimes and mournings:

the world, your fortune and your peril.

But now, that labor crowned,

you and your calculations,– you and your impatiences–

are only your dance and your voice, not fixed and not forced,

although a reason for the double consequence

of invention and of success, — in fraternal

and discreet humanity through an imageless universe;–

might and right reflect your dance and your voice,

appreciated only at present.

III

Twenty Years Old

Instructive voices exiled… Physical candor bitterly quelled…

–Adagio.– Ah! the infinite egotism of adolescence,

the studious optimism: how the world was full of flowers that summer!

Airs and forms dying… –A choir to calm impotence and absence!

A choir of glasses, of nocturnal melodies…

Quickly, indeed, the nerves take up the chase.

IV

You are still at Anthony’s temptation.

The antics of abated zeal,

the grimaces of childish pride, the collapse and the terror.

But you will set yourself at this labor:

all harmonic and architectural possibilities

will surge around your seat.

Perfect beings, never dreamed of,

will present themselves for your experiments.

The curiosity of ancient crowds

and idle wealth will meditatively draw near.

Your memory and your senses

will be simply the nourishment of your creative impulse.

As for the world, when you emerge, what will it have become?

In any case, nothing of what it seems at present.

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XLII

Clearance Sale

FR: Solde

book

For what the Jews have not sold,

what neither nobility nor crime have tasted,

what is unknown to monstrous love

and to the infernal probity of the masses!

what neither time nor science need recognize: The Voices restored;

fraternal awakening of all choral and orchestral energies

and their instantaneous application; the opportunity, the only one,

for the release of our senses!

For sale Bodies without price, outside any race,

any world, any sex, any lineage!

Riches gushing at every step!

Uncontrolled sale of diamonds!

For sale anarchy for the masses;

irrepressible satisfaction for rare connoisseurs;

agonizing death for the faithful and for lovers!

For sale colonization and migrations, sports,

fairylands and incomparable comforts,

and the noise and the movement

and the future they make!

For sale the application of calculations

and the incredible leaps of harmony.

Discoveries and terms never dreamed of,

— immediate possession.

Wild and infinite flight toward invisible splendors,

toward intangible delights–

and its maddening secrets for every vice

— and its terrifying gaiety for the mob.

For sale, the bodies, the voices,

the enormous and unquestionable wealth,

that which will never be sold.

Salesmen are not at the end of their stock!

It will be some time before travelers have

to turn in their accounts.

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