Stéphane Mallarmé
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90 French Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98) The Afternoon of a Faun. Eclogue The Faun: These nymphs, I would make them endure. Their delicate flesh-tint so clear, it hovers yet upon the air heavy with foliage of sleep. Was it a dream I loved? My doubt, hoarded of old night, culminates in many a subtle branch, that stayed the very forest’s self and proves alas! that I alone proposed the ideal failing of the rose as triumph of my own. Think now . . . and if the women whom you gloze picture a wish of your fabled senses! Faun, the illusion takes escape from blue cold eyes, like a spring in tears, of the purer one: and would you say of her, the other, made of sighs, that she contrasts, like the day breeze warmly astir now in your fleece! No! through the moveless, half-alive languor that suffocates in heat freshness of morning, if it strive, no water sounds save what is poured upon the grove sparged with accords by this my flute; and the sole wind prompt from twin pipes to be exhaled Stéphane Mallarmé 91  before dispersal of the sound in arid shower without rain is—on the unwrinkled, unstirred horizon—calm and clear to the eye, the artificial breath of inspiration , which regains the sky. Sicilian shores of a calm marsh, despoilèd by my vanity that vies with suns, tacit beneath the flower-sparkle, now relate how here I cut the hollow reeds that talent tames; when, on pale gold of distant greens that dedicate their vine to fountains, undulates an animal whiteness in repose: and how at sound of slow prelude with which the pipes first come to life this flight of swans, no! naiads flees or plunges . . . Limp in the tawny hour all is burning and shows no trace by what art those too many brides longed-for by him who seeks the A all at once decamped; then shall I wake to the primal fire, alone and straight, beneath an ancient surge of light, and one of all of you, lilies! by strength of my simplicity. Other than the soft nothingness their lips made rumor of, the kiss, which gives assurance in low tones of the two perfidious ones, 92 French my breast, immaculate of proof, attests an enigmatic bite, imputed to some august tooth; leave it! such mystery made choice of confidant: the vast twinned reed— beneath blue sky we give it voice: diverting to itself the cheek’s turmoil, it dreams, in a long solo, that we amused the beauty here— about by false bewilderments between it and our naive song; dreams too that from the usual dream of back or flawless flank traced by my shuttered glances, it makes fade, tempered to love’s own pitch, a vain, monotonous, sonorous line. Oh instrument of flights, try then, cunning Syrinx, to bloom again by lakes where you await me! I, proud of my murmur, shall discourse at length of goddesses; and by idolatries warmly portrayed remove more cinctures from their shades: thus, when from grapes their clarity I suck, to banish a regret deflected by my strategy, laughing, I raise the cluster high and empty to the summer sky, and breathing into its bright skins, craving the grace of drunkenness, I gaze them through till night begins. Oh nymphs, let us once more expand various memories. My eye, Stéphane Mallarmé 93  piercing the reeds, darted at each immortal neck-and-shoulders, which submerged its burning in the wave with a cry of rage to the forest sky; and the splendid shower of their hair in shimmering limpidities, oh jewels, vanishes! I run; when, at my feet, all interlaced (bruised by the languor which they taste of this sickness of being two), I come upon them where they sleep amid their own chance arms alone; and seizing them, together still entwined, I fly to this massed bloom— detested by the frivolous shade— of roses draining all perfume in the sun’s heat; where our frisk play may mirror the consumèd day. I worship you, oh wrath of virgins, savage joy of the sacred burden sliding its nakedness to flee my lips that drink, all fiery,— like tremor of a lightning-flash!— the secret terror of the flesh: from feet of the inhuman one to her shy sister’s heart, who is forsaken at the instant by an innocence, moist with wild tears or humors of a brighter cheer...