The Sisters of Charity

The Sisters of Charity

The young
man whose eyes is bright, whose skin is brown;

the handsome twenty-year-old body which should go naked,

and which, its brow circled with copper, under the moon,

would have been worshipped in Persia by an unknown Genie;

impetuous, with a softness both virginal and dark,

proud of his first obstinacies,

like the young seas, tears of summer nights,

turning on beds of diamonds;

The young man face with the ugliness of this world,

shudders in his heart, generously provoked;

and filled with the deep unhealing wound,

begin to desire his sister of charity.

But O Woman, heap of bowels, sweet compassion,

you never are the sister of charity,

never: neither your dark look,

nor your belly where sleeps a russet shadow,

nor your light fingers, nor splendidly shaped breasts.

Blind one, unawakened, with enormous rises,

the whole of our union is only a questioning;

it is you who hang on us,

O bearer of breasts;

it is we who nurse you, charming, grave Passion.

Your hatreds, your unmoving torpors, your failings,

and your brutalization suffered long ago,

you give everything back to us,

O Night still without malevolence,

like an excess of blood which is shed every month. –

When Woman, taken on for an instant, terrifies him;

love, the call of life and song of action; they come,

the green Muse and burning Justice,

to tear him to pieces with their august obsessions.

Ah! Thirsting without cease for splendours and calms,

forsaken by the two implacable Sisters,

whimpering fondly after knowledge

whose arms are full of nourishment,

he brings to nature in flower his forehead covered with blood.

But dark alchemy and sacred study are repugnant to the wounded one,

the somber scholar of pride;

he feels marching towards him atrocious solitudes.

Then, and still handsome, without disgust of the coffin,

he must believe in vast purposes,

in immense Dreams or Journeys across the night of Truth,

and he must call you in his soul and sick limbs,

O mysterious Death, O sister of charity!

June 1871