Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Fourth Night: Necropolis

On the earth one is ill; below the earth one is well. --Petrus Borel


The young skeleton spoke aloud
Long ere the sky took on dawn's violet tone,
Arms crossed and standing in his shroud,
In the wide graveyard where I walked alone:


Child of solitude, now hear!
If Misfortune, henchman cruel,
Should always in your path appear
To offer you a coward's duel;
If, cast ahead, your sickly though
Discovers in your future naught
But a horizon draped in gray:
If your blood should vainly grope
For soporific drafts of hope
As darkling love wears it away,

If your brothers do not know
Your secret and ferocious pain,
If their smiling faces show,
When you see true, naught but disdain;
And if the jailer Destiny,
To furnish you sweet dittany
To palliate your spirit's seething,
Has not, as you tire and tire,
Finally thrown you genius's lyre
Which great, sad hearts all use for teething--*

Then let death be your redoubt!
Follow the Redeemer's path.
Dare at once to carry out,
To suffer and to name the wrath.
If fanatics bar your mortal
Shell before some holy portal,
What if it does not go thence?
A thousand lies and ill renown -
What matter if false sages crown
Your name with vulgar eloquence?


Below the silent tomb, how calm is sleep!
Reposing in that refuge, one can creep
One's hand free of the ceremental fold
And find a neighbor's powdery hand to hold.**
It's sweet to feel rosettes stitched onto bone
By lively, knotting rootwork overgrown;
To hear the war cry of the storms that sunder
And warp the handsome bushes one sleeps under.
It's rapturous to feel the friendly dew
Bejewel the sleeping hillside and seep through
The tender, velvet lawn that cloaks the hill
Until it reaches you with damp and chill.
There, endless far niente; total silence.
The heart is stagnant, dismal: no more violence.
Between remorse's teeth no longer ground,
In Death's estate, what happiness is found!***

(Original - too long to copy/paste here)


*This is all in there, I swear.


...creep/ One's hand free of the tangled winding sheet
Until your fingers and your neighbor's meet.

***The last couplet can also be rendered

Remorse's teeth no longer masticate.

Ah, truly, one is glad in death's estate!

Which greatly improves the last line at the expense of some silliness. I think it might be worth the trade-off.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rodomontade 49-60

My sylphs would bear upon a perfumed breeze
My pale beloved to Oriental seas  
        And build her there a throne
Of novel splendor, wondrous far beyond
Atlantis, where the king of fairies' fond
        Retainers crowd his own.

Then ardor, frenzy, study, poetry!
Let the ambrosial ocean's rapture be
        Our fiery spirits' slaker!
There I could be, suffused with alien might,
Creator of an absolute delight,
        More artist than the Maker!


Aux mers de l’Orient, dans une île embaumée,
Mes sylphes porteraient ma pâle bien-aimée,
        Et lui bâtiraient un séjour
Bien plus miraculeux, bien autrement splendide
Que celui qu’habitaient, dans la molle Atlantide,
        Le roi de féerie et sa cour.

Amour, enthousiasme, étude, poésie !
C’est là qu’en votre extase, océan d’ambroisie,
        Se noieraient nos âmes de feu !
C’est là que je saurais, fort d’un génie étrange,
Dans la création d’un bonheur sans mélange,
        Être plus artiste que Dieu !!!…

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rodomontade 37-48

With all the elements my armory,
Djinn, vampire, dragon, hob would come to me,
        Saluting him they'd crowned.
I'd steal the richest phosphors from Hell's stores,
Transfiguring my eyes to meteors,
        Hurl terror all around.

I'd bear away the pretty chatelaine
Whom, in his stronghold, deep in his domain,
        A jealous wretch immures
Since that accursed day, when to his hall
Returning early from the hunt, withal
        Discovered me in hers.


Pour arsenal j’aurais l’élémentaire empire
Le gobelin, le djinn, le dragon, le vampire,
        Viendraient tous me saluer roi.
Je prendrais à l’Enfer ses plus riches phosphores,
Et, métamorphosant mes yeux en météores,
        Partout je darderais l’effroi.

J’enlèverais alors la belle châtelaine
Que, dans un château fort, centre de son domaine,
        Retient l’ire d’un vil jaloux,
Depuis l’heure damnée où, dans la salle basse,
Plus tôt que de coutume arrivant de la chasse,
        Il me surprit à ses genoux.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rodomontade 25-36

Speck that I am, dream not that to some church
To fourscore-year-old priestly feet, I'd lurch
        Repentant, blithe, distraught;
Nor run, St. Bruno's cult to reinforce,
In passion fine, bedecked in sackcloth coarse,
        Scalp tonsured, spine arch-wrought!

No, I would delve into hermetic thought
Seek out, by night, some fallow trackless spot
        Where God would hear my jeers;
On whirlwinds of vile magic taking flight,
Call Lucifer, trade soul against delight
        For some few thousand years!


Ne croyez pas qu’alors, pénitent débonnaire,
Dans une église, aux pieds d’un prêtre octogénaire,
        J’advolerais tout éperdu !
Ni qu’en un beau transport, affublé d’un cilice,
J’irai de saint Bruno renforcer la milice,
        Dos en arcade et chef tondu !

Non, non. Je creuserais les sciences occultes :
Je m’en irais, la nuit, par des sites incultes ;
        Et là, me raillant du Seigneur,
Je tourbillonnerais dans la magie infâme,
J’évoquerais le Diable...... et je vendrais mon ame
        Pour quelques mille ans de bonheur !

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rodomontade 13-24

He said, "Oh, why is my dear mother's faith
Nothing but thimblerig, chimera, wraith?
        Why was he never real,
That Jesus, keystone, beacon of our age?
Why does his Gospel, on its every page,
        Its scorn of truth reveal?

Were firmamental signs and sigils able
To bring my arrogance to trust the fable
        Of Christ the Nazarene;
To prove Jehovah more that some vain ghost,
Should there appear an archangelic host
        Before the feeble, mean,

Il disait : Oh ! pourquoi le culte de ma mère
N’est-il que jonglerie, imposture, chimère !
        Pourquoi n’a-t-il jamais été
Ce Jésus, clef de voûte et fanal de notre âge !
Pourquoi son Évangile est-il à chaque page
        Contempteur de la vérité !

Si, dans le firmament, des signes, des symboles,
Amenaient ma superbe à croire aux paraboles
        Du charpentier de Nazareth ;
Si pour me révéler à moi, débile atôme,
Que le grand Jéhovah n’est pas un vain fantôme,
        Un archange ici se montrait ;

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rodomontade 1-12

Third Night: Rodomontade

Against the massive arch he leaned alone,
That ancient Roman bridge, whose wanton stone
        The waves' caress is robbing.
The night-star's luster limned his Dantean face;
His giant mantle fluttered out of place
        From Boreas's sobbing.

Thick-skulled, fawn-haired - to look, one might surmise—
The neck's well-muscled, leonine turn, the eyes
        Hard, eloquent and hollow,
The features bright with irony and pride—
That this was the wild elemental guide
        Storms and volcanoes follow.


Nuit Troisième – Rodomontade

Il était appuyé contre l’arche massive
De ce vieux pont romain, dont la base lascive
        S’use aux attouchements des flots :
L’astre des nuits lustrait son visage Dantesque,
Et le Nord dérangeait son manteau gigantesque
        Avec de sauvages sanglots.

À voir son crâne ardu, sa fauve chevelure,
De son cou léonin la musculeuse allure,
        Ses yeux caves, durs, éloquents,
Ses traits illuminés d’orgueil et d’ironie,
On l’eût pris volontiers pour le rude génie
        Des tempêtes et des volcans.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Neuralgia 25-40


Oh! Would that, like a wind-enamored sprite,
DEATH, seated softly on a cloudbank, might
Descend, from far-off space, even to me,
And make her pedestal this balcony!
My eyes, afire, would lock her empty gaze,
I'd hungrily embrace her, blood ablaze,
And with her thus imprisoned, dare to place
A tender kiss upon her icy face!



Oh ! si, comme une fée amante de la brise,
La MORT sur un nuage avec mollesse assise,
Descendant jusqu’à moi du haut de l’horizon,
Venait pour piédestal élire ce balcon !…
Mon œil s’arrêterait ardent sur son œil vide,
Je l’emprisonnerais dans une étreinte avide,
Et, le sang tout en feu, j’oserais apposer
Sur sa bouche de glace un délicat baiser !