Last Lines

-LAST LINES-

(1872)


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Memory

FR: Mémoire

book

I

Clear water; [stinging] like the salt of a child’s tears,

the whiteness of women’s bodies attacking the sun;

silken, in masses and pure lily, banners

under the walls a maiden defended;

The frolic of angels – No the current of gold in motion moves its arms,

dark and above all cool, of green. She [the weed] sinks,

and having the blue Heaven for a canopy,

takes for curtains the shade of the hill and of the arch.

II

Oh! The wet surface stretches out its clear bubbles!

The water covers the made beds with pale and bottomless gold;

[it is as if] the faded green dresses of little girls

[were] playing at willows, out of which leap the unbridled birds.

Purer than a gold louis, yellow warm eyelid, the marsh marigold –

thy conjugal faith O Spouse! – at noon sharp,

from its dull mirror, envies the rosy beloved

Sphere in the sky wan with heat.

III

Madame holds herself too erect in the neighbouring meadow

where the threads of [the spider’s] toil are snowing down’

parasol in her fingers; crushing the cow-parsley;

too proud for her; children reading

in the flowery greenness; their red morocco book! Alas,

He, like a thousand white angels parting on the roadway,

makes off beyond the mountain!

She, quite cold, and dark, runs!

After the flight of the man!

IV

Nostalgia for the thick young arms of pure green!

Gold of the April moons in the heart of the hallowed bed!

Joy of the abandoned boat-yards, the prey to the August evenings

which quickened these corruptions!

How she weeps, now, under he ramparts!

The breath of the poplars above is all there is for a breeze.

Then it is the sheet of water without reflections

and without a spring, grey: an old man, a dredger,

in his motionless boat, labours.

V

Plaything of this eye of mournful water, I cannot reach –

O boat without motion! O too short arms! –

either this flower or that one: neither the yellow one

which importunes me here; nor the blue one,

the beloved in the ashes water.

Ah! The pollen of willows which a wing shakes!

The roses of the reeds, long since eaten away!

My boat still fast; and its anchor chain taut to the bottom

of this limitless eye of water, – in what slime? —————

What does it matter to us, my heart,

the sheets of blood And of red-hot coals,

and a thousand murders, and long howls Of rage ;

sobbings from every inferno destroying Every (kind of) order ;

and still the North wind across the wreckage ;

And all the vengeance ? Nothing !… –

But still, yes We desire it ! Industrialists, princes,

senates, Perish ! Power, justice, history : down !

It is our due. Blood ! blood ! the golden flame !

All to war, to vengeance, to terror, My soul !

Let us turn in the wound : Ah !

away with you, Republics of this world !

Of Emperors, Regiments, colonists, peoples, enough !

Who should stir the vortices of furious flames

But we and those whom we imagine brothers ?

It’s our turn, romantic friends : we are Going to enjoy it.

Never shall we labour, O fiery waves !

Europe, Asia, America – vanish !

Our march of vengeance has occupied every place,

Cities and countrysides ! – We shall be smashed !

The volcanoes will explode ! And the Ocean, smitten…

Oh ! my friends ! – My heart, it is certain ; they are brothers ;

Dark strangers, if we began ! Come on ! Come on ! –

O evil fortune ! I feel myself tremble, the old earth,

On me who am more and more yours ! the earth melts.

It is nothing : I am here ; I am still here.

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What does it matter to us, my heart…

FR: Qu’est-ce pour nous Mon Cœur…

book

What does it matter to us, my heart, the sheets of blood

And of red-hot coals, and a thousand murders, and long howls

Of rage; sobbings from every inferno destroying

Every (kind of) order; and still the North wind across the wreckage;

 

And all the vengeance? Nothing!… – But still, yes

We desire it! Industrialists, princes, senates,

Perish! Power, justice, history: down!

It is our due. Blood! blood! the golden flame!

 

All to war, to vengeance, to terror,

My soul! Let us turn in the wound: Ah! away with you,

Republics of this world! Of Emperors,

Regiments, colonists, peoples, enough!

 

Who should stir the vortices of furious flames

But we and those whom we imagine brothers?

It’s our turn, romantic friends: we are

Going to enjoy it. Never shall we labour, O fiery waves

Europe, Asia, America – vanish!

 

Our march of vengeance has occupied every place,

Cities and countrysides! – We shall be smashed!

The volcanoes will explode! And the Ocean, smitten…

Oh! my friends! – My heart, it is certain; they are brothers;

Dark strangers, if we began! Come on! Come on!

 

– O evil fortune! I feel myself tremble, the old earth,

On me who am more and more yours! the earth melts.

It is nothing: I am here; I am still here.

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Michel and Christine

FR: Michel et Christine

book

The devil with it if the sun leaves these shores!

Vanish, bright flood! Here is the shade of the roads.

In the willows, in the old courtyard

The storm at first sheds its big drops.

O hundred lambs, blond soldiers of the idyl,

From aqueducts and scanty heath,

Flee! plains, deserts, fields, horizons

Are in the red wash of the storm!

Black dog, brown shepherd whose cloak puffs in the wind,

Flee the hour of high lightning;

Blond flock, when the dark and brimstone float about,

Try to go down to better retreats.

But, Lord! my Spirit flies away,

After the icy red skies, under the

Heavenly clouds hastening and flying

Over a hundred Solognes as long as a railway.

Behold a thousand wolves, a thousand wild seeds

Which, not without loving the bindweed, are carried off

By this religious afternoon of storms.

Over old Europe where a hundred hordes will pass!

Afterwards, moonlight! over the heath,

Reddening their faces against the black skies, the warriors

Slowly ride their pale horses!

Pebbles ring under this proud troop!

– And will see the yellow wood and the bright valley,

The blue-eyed Bride, the man with the red brow, – o Gaul,

And the white Paschal lamb, at their dear feet,

– Michel and Christine, – and Christ! – end of the Idyl.

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Tear

FR: Larme

book

Far away from birds and herds and village girls,

I was drinking, kneeling down in some heather

Surrounded by soft hazel copses,

In an afternoon mist, warm and green.

 

What can I have been drinking in that young Oise,

Voiceless elms, flowerless turf, overcast sky.

What did I draw from the gourd of the wine ?

Some golden liquor, pale, which causes sweating.

 

Such as I was, I should have made a poor inn-sign.

Then the storm changed the sky, until the evening.

It was black countries, lakes, poles,

Colonnades under the blue night, railway stations.

 

The water from the woods trickled away into virgin sands,

The wind, from the sky, threw sheets of ice across the ponds …

But ! like a fisher for gold or shellfish,

To think that I did not bother to drink !

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Blackcurrant River

FR: La Rivière de Cassis

book

Blackcurrant river rolls unknown in strange valleys;

the voices of a hundred rooks go with it,

the true benevolent voice of angles:

with the wide movements of the fir woods

when several winds sweep down.

 

Everything flows with [the] horrible mysteries of ancient landscapes;

of strongholds visited, of large estates:

it is along these banks that you can hear

the dead passions of errant knights:

but how the wind is wholesome!

 

Let the traveler look through these clerestories:

he will journey on more bravely.

Forest soldiers whom the Lord sends,

dear delightful rooks! Drive away from here the crafty peasant,

clinking glasses with his old stump of an arm.

May
1872

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Comedy of Thirst

FR: Comédie de la soif

book

1. THE PARENTS

We are your Grand-Parents, the Grown-Ups!

Covered with the cold sweats of the moon and the greensward.

Our dry wines had heart in them!

In the sunshine where there is no deception,

what does man need? To drink.

Myself: To die among barbarous rivers.

We re your Grand-Parents of the fields.

The water lies at the foot of the willows:

see the flow of the moat round the damp castle.

Let us go down to our storerooms;

afterwards, cider or milk.

Myself: To go where the cows drink.

We are your Grand-Parents; here,

take some of the liqueurs in our cupboards;

Tea and Coffee, so rare, sing in our kettles.

Look at the pictures, the flowers.

We are back from the cemetery.

Myself: Ah! To drink all urns dry!

2. THE SOUL

Eternal undines, split the pure water.

Venus, sister of azure, stir up the clear wave.

Wandering Jews of Norway, tell me of snow;

old beloved exiles tell me of the sea.

Myself: No, no more of these pure drinks,

these water-flowers for glasses;

neither legends nor faces quench my thirst;

singer, your god-child is my thirst so mad,

a mouthless intimate hydra

which consumes and ravages.

3. FRIENDS

Come, the Wines are off to the seaside,

and the waves by the million!

Look at wild Bitter rolling from the mountain tops!

Let us reach, like good pilgrims, green-pillared Absinthe

Myself: No more of these landscapes.

What is drunkenness, friends?

I had soon – rather, even – rot in the pond,

beneath the horrible scum, near the floating driftwood.

4. THE POOR MAN DREAMS

Perhaps an Evening awaits me

when I shall drink I peace in some old Town,

and die the happier: since I am patient!

If my pain submits, if I ever have any gold,

shall I choose the North or the Country of Vines?

– Oh! It is shameful to dream – since it is pure loss!

And if I become once more the old traveler,

never can the green inn be open to me again.

5. CONCLUSION

The pigeons which flutter in the meadow,

the game which runs and sees in the dark,

the water animals, the animal enslaved,

the last butterflies!.. also are thirsty.

But to dissolve where that wandering cloud is dissolving –

Oh! Favoured by what is fresh!

To expire in those damp violets

whose awakening fills these woods?

May
1872

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Pleasant Thought for the Morning

FR: Bonne pensée du matin

book

At four o’clock on a summer morning,

The Sleep of love still lasts.

Under the spinneys the dawn disperses scents

Of the festive night.

 

But down there in the huge workshop

Near the Hesperidean sun,

The carpenters in their shirtsleeves

are already astir.

 

Peaceful in the midst of their wilderness of foam,

They are preparing the costly canopies

Where the riches of the city

Will smile beneath painted skies.

 

Ah ! for these charming labourer’s sakes

Subjects of a king of Babylon,

Venus ! leave Lovers for a little while,

Whose souls are wearing crowns.

 

O Queen of the Sheperds!

Take strong liquor to the workers,

So that their strength may be calmed

Until the sea-bathe at noon.

May
1872

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