Sun and Flesh
the hearth of affection and life,
pouts burning love on delighted earth,
and when you lie down in the valley you can smell
how the earth is nubile and very full-blooded;
how its huge breast, heaved up by a soul,
is , like God, made of love, and, like woman, of flesh;
and that it contains, big with sp and with sunlight,
the vast pullulation of all embryos!
And everything grows, and everything rises!
– O Venus, O Goddess!
I long for the days of antique youth,
of lascivious satyrs, and animal fauns,
gods who bit, mad with love, the bark of the boughs,
and among water-lilies kissed
the Nymph with fair hair!
I long for the time when the sap of the world,
river water, the rose-coloured blood of green trees,
put into the veins of Pan a whole universe!
When the earth trembled, green, beneath his goat-feet;
when softly kissing the fair Syrinx, his lips formed
under heaven the great hymn of love;
when, standing on the plain, he heard round about him
living Nature answer his call;
when the silent trees cradling the singing bird,
earth cradling mankind, and the whole blue Ocean,
and all living creatures loved, loved in God!
I long for the time of great Cybele
who was said to travel,
gigantically lovely, in a great bronze chariot,
through splendid cities; her twin breasts poured,
through the vast deeps,
the pure streams of infinite life.
Mankind sucked joyfully at her blessed nipple,
like a small child playing on her knees.
– Because he was strong, Man was gentle and chaste.
Misfortune! Now he says: I understand things;
and goes about with eyes shut and ears closed. –
And again: No more gods! no more gods! Man is King,
Man is God! – But the great Faith is Love!
Oh if only man still drew substance from your nipple,
great mother of gods and of men, Cybele!
If only he had not forsaken immortal astarte,
who long ago, rising in the tremendous brightness of blue waters
– flower-flesh perfumed by the wave –
showed her rosy navel, towards which the foam came snowing and being a
with great conquering black eyes –
made the nightingale sing in the woods and love in men’s hearts!
I believe in you! divine mother, sea-borne Aphrodite!
– oh, the path is bitter, since the other God harnessed us to his cross!
Flesh, marble, flower, Venus: in you I believe! –
Yes: Man is sad and ugly ; sad under the vast sky;
he possesses clothes because he is no longer chaste,
because he has defiled his proud, godlike head,
and because he has bent, like an idol in the furnice,
his Olympian form towards base slaveries!
Yes: even after death, in the form of pale skeletons,
he wishes to live and insult the original beauty!
– And the Idol in whom you placed such maidenhood,
Woman, in whom you rendered our clay divine,
so that Man might bring light into his poor soul,
and slowly ascend, in unbounded love,
from the earthly prison to the beauty of day –
Woman no longer knows even how to be a courtesan!
– It’s a fine farce! and the world snickers
at the sweet and sacred name of great Venus!
If only the
times which have come and gone might come again! –
For Man is finished! Man has played all the parts!
In the broad daylight, wearied with breaking idols,
he will revive, free of all his gods; and since he is of haven,
he will scan the heavens! The Ideal, the eternal, invincible thought,
which is all – the living god within his fleshy clay – will rise, mount,
burn beneath his brow! And when you see him plumbing the whole horizon,
despising old yokes, and free from all fear, you will come and give him
Resplendent, radiant, from the bosom of the huge seas,
you will rise up and give to the vast Universe infinite Love with its
The World will vibrate like an immense lyre in the trembling of an infinite
The World thirsts for love: you will come and slake its thirst.
—— (Oh! Man has raised his free, proud head!
And the sudden blaze of primordial beauty makes the god quiver in the
altar of the flesh!
Happy in the present good, place from all ill suffered,
Man wishes to plumb all depths – and know all things!
Thought, so long a jade, and for so long oppressed,
springs from his forehead! She will know Why!
Let her but gallop free, and Man will find Faith! –
Why the blue silence, unfathomable space?
Why the golden stars, teeming like sands?
If one ascended forever, what would one see up there?
Does a shepherd drive this enormous flock of worlds
on a journey through this horror of space?
And do all these worlds, contained in vast ether,
tremble at the tones of an eternal voice? –
And Man, can e see? can he say: I believe?
Is the language of thought any more than a dream?
If man is born so quickly, if life is so short, whence does he come?
Does he sink into the deep Ocean of germs, of Foetuses, of Embryos,
to the bottom of the huge Crucible where Nature the Mother will resuscitate
a living creature, to love in the rose and to grow in the corn?… We
We are weighted down with a cloak of ignorance, hemmed in by chimaeras!
Men like apes, dropped from our mothers’ wombs,
our feeble reason hides the infinite from us!
We wish to perceive: – and Doubt punishes us!
Doubt, dismal bird, beats us down with its wing…
and the horizon rushes away in the endless flight!…
The vast heaven is open! the mysteries lie dead
before erect Man who folds his strong arms
among the vast splendour of abundant Nature!
He sings… and the woods sing: the river murmurs
a song full of happiness which rises towards the light!…
– It is Redemption! It is love! It is love!…) ——
of flesh! O ideal splendour!
O renewal of love, triumphal dawn when,
prostrating the Gods and the Heroes before their feet,
white Callipyge and little Eros, covered with the snow of rose petals,
will caress women and flowers beneath their lovely outstretched feet!-
O great Aridne who pour out your tears on the shore,
as you see, out there on the waves,
the sail of Theseus flying while under the sun;
O sweet virgin child whom a night has broken, be silent!
On his golden chariot studded with black grapes Lysios,
who has been drawn through Phrygian fields by lascivious
tigers and russet panthers, reddens the dark mosses along the blue rivers.
Zeus, the Bull, cradles on his neck like a child the nude body
of Europa who throws her white arm around the God’s muscular neck
which shivers in the wave Slowly he turns his dreamy eye towards her;
she droops her pale flowerlike cheek on the brow of Zeus; her eyes are
she is dying in a divine kiss; and the murmuring waters strew
the flowers of their golden foam on her hair. –
Between the oleander and the gaudy lotus tree slips amorously the great
enfolding Leda in the whiteness of his wing; –
And while Cypris goes by, strangely beautiful, and , arching
the marvelous curves of her back, proudly displays the golden vision of
her big breasts
and snowy belly embroidered with black moss – Hercules, Tamer the beasts,
in the strength,
robes his huge body with the lion’s skin as with a glory,
and faces the horizon, his brow terrible and sweet!
Vaguely lit by the summer moon, erect, naked, dreaming in her pallor of
by the heavy wave of her long blue hair,
in the shadowy glade where stars spring in the moss,
the Dryad gazes up at the silent sky – White Selene, timidly,
lets her veil float over the feet of beautiful Endymion,
and throws him a kiss in a pale beam The Spring sobs far off in a long
It is the nymph who dreams, with one elbow on her urn,
of the handsome white stripling her wave has pressed against. –
A soft wind of love has passed in the night, and in the sacred woods,
amid the standing hair of the great trees, erect in majesty,
the shadowy Marbles, the Gods,
on whose brows the Bullfinch has his next
– the Gods listen to Men, and to the infinite World.