A Throw of the Dice [excerpt]

- 1842-1898
     NOTHING




              of the memorable crisis
                       or might
                                  the event        have been accomplished in view of all results  null
                                                                                                                             human

                                                                                               WILL HAVE TAKEN PLACE
                                                                        an ordinary elevation pours out absence

                                                                                                                 BUT THE PLACE
                                          some splashing below of water as if to disperse the empty act
                                                                                 abruptly which otherwise
                                                                            by its falsehood
                                                                      would have founded
                                                                                      perdition

                                           in these latitudes 
                                                           of indeterminate
                                                                      waves
                                                                           in which all reality dissolves

EXCEPT
           on high
                       PERHAPS
                                  as far as place            can fuse with the beyond

                                                                                        aside from the interest
                                                                                    marked out to it
                                                                                                           in general
                                                              by a certain obliquity through a certain declivity
                                                                                                               of fires
                                                                     toward
                                                                         what must be
                                                                              the Septentrion as well as North
  
                                                                                                             A CONSTELLATION

                                                                          cold from forgetfulness and desuetude
                                                                                                         not so much
                                                                                                 that it doesn't number
                                                                                on some vacant and superior surface
                                                                                                    the successive shock
                                                                                                            in the way of stars
                                                                                of a total account in the making

                                                         keeping vigil
                                                                    doubting
                                                                           rolling
                                                                                shining and meditating

                                                                                            before coming to a halt
                                                                                     at some terminus that sanctifies it


                                                                                  All Thought emits a Throw of the Dice

A Tomb for Anatole, 1

child sprung from
the two of us — showing
us our ideal, the way
— ours! father
and mother who
       sadly existing
survive him as
the two extremes —
badly coupled in him
and sundered
— from whence hi death — o-
bliterating this little child "self"

Reminiscence

Orphan, I was wandering in black and with an eye vacant of family: at the quincunx, the tents of a fair were unfolded; did I experience the future and that I would take this form? I loved the odor of the vagabonds, and was drawn toward them, forgetting my comrades. No cry of a chorus clamoring through the canvas rift, nor distant tirade, the drama requiring the holy hour of the footlights, I wanted to speak with an urchin too unsteady in his wavering to figure forth among his people, in a nightcap cut like Dante's hood—who was already returning to himself, in the guise of a slice of bread and soft cheese, the snow of mountain peaks, the lily, or some other whiteness constitutive of internal wings: I would have begged him to admit me to his superior meal, which was quickly shared with some illustrious older boy who had sprung up against a nearby tent and was engaged in feats of strength and banalities consistent with the day. Naked, he pirouetted in what seemed to me the surprising nimbleness of his tights and moreover began: "Your parents? — I have none. — Go on, if you knew what a farce that is, a father...even the other week when he was off his soup, he still made faces as funny as ever, when the boss was flinging out smacks and kicks. My dear fellow!" and triumphantly raising a leg toward me with glorious ease, "Papa astounds us"; then, biting into the little one's chaste meal: "Your mama, maybe you don't have one, maybe you're alone? Mine eats rope and everyone claps his hands. you have no idea what funny people parents are, how they make you laugh." The show was heating up, he left: myself, I sighed, suddenly dismayed at not having parents.

Apparition

translated by Wilfrid Thorley

The moon grew sad, and weeping seraphim,
Musing among the vaporous flowers aswim,
With slow bows from the sobbing viols drew
White tears that sank in their corónals blue.
It was the blesséd day of your first kiss.
My reverie, eager with new miseries,
Was all a-swoon with perfume of shy grief
That leaves the heart to gather its own sheaf,
And frets not, nor yet sickens of its prize.
I wandered, and the worn way held my eyes
When in the street I saw your sun-girt hair
And you all smiling in the twilit air.
I took you for that elf who, crowned with beams,
Once passed before me in my childish dreams,
And shed white posies of sweet-smelling flow’rs
Star-like for tiny hands in snowy show’rs.

 


 

Apparition 

 

La lune s’attristait. Des séraphins en pleurs
Rêvant, l’archet aux doigts, dans le calme des fleurs
Vaporeuses, tiraient de mourantes violes
De blancs sanglots glissant sur l’azur des corolles.
—C’était le jour béni de ton premier baiser.
Ma songerie aimant à me martyriser
S’enivrait savamment du parfum de tristesse
Que même sans regret et sans déboire laisse
La cueillaison d’un Rêve au cœur qui l’a cueilli.
J’errais donc, l’œil rivé sur le pavé vieilli,
Quand avec du soleil aux cheveux, dans la rue
Et dans le soir, tu m’es en riant apparue
Et j’ai cru voir la fée au chapeau de clarté
Qui jadis sur mes beaux sommeils d’enfant gâté
Passait, laissant toujours de ses mains mal fermées
Neiger de blancs bouquets d’étoiles parfumées.