A Poem Is Born

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on A Poem Is Born
Nov 132013
 
I present this infant child of Idumaean midnight,
His pale wings powerless, plucked of flight:

All night my study's closed window glowed
With mirrored lamp's incense and burnished golds,
Each sad pane, alas, by harsh frost ringed and stamped
Until dawn's wide fingers calmed the ailing lamp 
     --insubstantial angel--
Unveiling to my tired Dad's eyes: the babe a-beam, 
Night's afterbirth--gifted relic of a dream!--
Raising round my father's mouth a faint, queer smile
In anemic silence;  day's blue dews freshened by sunrise palms....

Oh Mary, Mary, cradling our daughter to your kisses
--Cold feet so innocent!--Welcome, too, this three-headed brother!
Sing "lullay, lullay" with viol voice and frail harpsichord, will you?
Press with faded finger your fulsome breast, won't you?
Please, bleed the sibylline whiteness of a woman's soul
Between starvling lips, dropped from virgin skies....

Mallarme

The Swan

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on The Swan
Nov 132013
 
Virgin dawn's violet, ineffectual light....
What use the shuddering wings?  Delicate inebriate...
Shivering no fissures in the lake's hard haunt of ice--
Glacial transparencies flickering with effectless flights.

Once swift and serene, his memories flitter: ill-lit,
Magnificent, and without hope.  He strains....
Never enchanted by chansons of Riviera suns,
Never flying from winter's sterile dazzle.

The long S-neck convulses--whitest, wintriest agony;
Infinite space afflicts;  the snowy swan denies, denies....
A horrible mire frosts the impeccable quills.

Phantom of brilliance by brilliance confined
To immobility--in his insolent trance icily fixed--
Sleet-sheeted, inutile exile of a Swan! 

Mallarme

Deux Apparitions

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on Deux Apparitions
Nov 132013
 
The moon despairs;  seraphim in tears
Dream among heaven-scented blooms, bows
Tautly in hand, eliciting from the fatal viols
Spectral sobs glissading azurest corollas--
That day of your first, blessed kiss.

O vision of love, return to me, martyr me!
Lick, inhale old wines of that dear perfume, sadness,
Left after regrets and deceptions depart--
Unrinsed leavings of the gathering Dream,
Fortissimo moanings sunk in the heart 
That collects them, big as a sink.

In disarray, I cast my wandering eyes 
Distraught upon the pavement pale....

And then--sunshine in your hair (on the street,
At evening) appears, and your lilt-lit laugh returns:
An apparition of the blonde fey with her bright cap
Who once upon the sleepy beatitudes of enviable childhood
Trespassed, trailing from pale fingers of her half-closed hands
Shaken bouquets of milk-scented stars. 

Mallarme

The Sum of All the Soul

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on The Sum of All the Soul
Nov 132013
 
The sum of all the soul
Is lazy exhalations,
Smoke rings in rings in rings
And their derivations.

So says the brune cigar
(Burning wisely the while)
Letting shooken cinders char
From the clear kiss of fire.

So the smokes of poems
Insinuate a smile;--
Dismiss thisness, singer,
	should you debut:
Reality's vile.

Too-precise a sense erases
Literature's half-guesses.

Mallarme

Dusky Page

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on Dusky Page
Nov 132013
 
Swiftly, gamely, mademoiselle
Made a wish to hear toned notes
Floating from my old wood flute
Revealingly.

Poignant practice in the park
Between our picnic and the flocks
Achieved some partial good
                      when I stopped
And stared at mademoiselle 'til dark.

This vain breath that I extend
To where my antique wood flute ends
By spastic clasp of crippled fingers
In incapable mimesis

Can't catch quite your natural and clear
Childish laughter that charms the air.

Mallarme

Memorial Anomie

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on Memorial Anomie
Nov 132013
 
Silks involved in balms of Time
Where even fictive if expires
Vaunt not the coiled, the native cloud
Combed in your mirror's lens.

Patriotic ranks of stagnant flags
Exalt above the vacant street;
Drowned by waves of your naked mane,
I plunge to my eyes' content.

Yet, no mouth may be sure
Of the savor his bite procures
Unless, regal and rampant, he insists,

Amidst your immense coppery tufts,
On expelling a diamond sigh:
The cry "Glorie!" that he stifles.

Mallarme

Battle Ditty

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on Battle Ditty
Nov 132013
 
All's quiet, except the silence;
As at the fireplace I lean,
Military slacks
Redden against my shins.

The invasion I await
With virgin courage
Is that of the baton a-tilt,
The soldier's white glove--

Gilt or stripped
It waits to strike--not Teutons
But some ancillary menace,
Some acquiescence one desires.

Beat back this wild nettle:
Sympathy before battle.

Mallarme

The Dagger of Art

 [Poetry], [Translations], The Giant in the Cradle  Comments Off on The Dagger of Art
Nov 132013
 
1.
Yes, all things increase in magnificence 
When hammered with travail
     And patience--
Verse, marble, onyx, enamel.

2.
Damn each false constraint!
Yet, that you may walk erect,
     Your corset,
Muse, pull tight.

3.
Sculptor, renounce
Clay and stone, chisel and bit
     When doubts
Unnerve the finger and the spirit.

4.
Hold to hard Carrara,
With Paros cool endure,
     So rare,
Guarding the pure contour.

5.
Imprint bronze of Syracuse
That, firm and proud,
     Never releases
Each trace fierce and charmed.

6.
And with a dread most delicate
Pursue the filament of soul
     In agate,
Profiling perfect Apollo.

7.
Painter, despise pale aquarelle
And pin your palette,
     So faint, so frail,
In unchanging flames enameled.

8.
Bunch and twist blue mermaids
Trenchantly a hundred ways
     By their fishy ends
--Monsters of antique heraldry!

9.
Show in a nimbus triple-lobed
The Virgin,  Jesus
     And the globe
Blazing beneath one Cross.

10.
--Dust to dust. 
The pastor intones
     Talced white
Above white pews of skeletons.

11.
Art alone, robust,
Savors of Eternity; the ephemeral
     Portrait bust
Survives the charnel.

12.
And the austere medallion
Plowed up by a laborer
     From dirt and loam
Reveals an Emperor.

13.
Gods die and are interred;
But sacred, sovereign verse
     Endures--
More mightily made than Death.

14.
Sculpt, carve, chisel;
Until the floating dream alone
     Smiles
Within the resisting stone.

Théophile Gautier

The Albatross

 [Poetry], [Translations], Black Champagne  Comments Off on The Albatross
Sep 142011
 

Last Tuesday, for kicks, the cachinnate sea-crew
Downed an albatross, a vast sea-bird,
The indolent companion of our wake, who lazily traced
Our ship's slippage through bitter breakers.

Once deposed to the common planks,
This king of the wild blue stumbled in shame,
Piteously dragging his white infinite wings
Like chalky oars unmoored beside him.

Winged voyager!  Now dementedly frail!
O royal one!  Now splay and exposed!
One sailor crams His Highness' beak with a burning pipe;
The next limps and mimics this cripple who soared!

The Poet is one with this swift prince of the clouds
Who haunts the tempest and mocks swart archers:
Exiled to earth's low hoots and threats,
His giant wings hobble each inch of his step.

--Charles Baudelaire


The sum of all the soul

 [Poetry], [Translations], Nobody Poems  Comments Off on The sum of all the soul
Aug 282011
 
The sum of all the soul
Is lazy exhalations,
Smoke rings in rings in rings
And their derivations.
 
So says the brune cigar
(Burning wisely the while)
Letting shooken cinders char
From the clear kiss of fire.
 
So the smokes of poems
Insinuate a smile;--
Dismiss thisness, singer,
            should you debut,
Reality's vile.
 
Too-precise a sense erases
Literature's half-guesses.
 
Mallarme