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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.