The everlasting Azure’s tranquil irony
Depresses, like the flowers indolently fair,
The powerless poet who damns his superiority
Across a sterile wilderness of aching Despair.
In flight, with eyes shut fast, I feel it scrutinize
With all the vehemence of some destructive remorse,
My empty soul. Where can I flee? What haggard night
Fling over, tatters, fling on his distressing scorn?
Oh fogs, arise! Pour your momentous ashes down
In long-drawn rags of dust across the skies unreeling
To darkly drench the livid swarm of autumn days,
And fabricate of them a great and silent ceiling!
And you, emerge from Lethean pools and gather in
While rising through them, freight of mud and pallid reeds,
Sweet Boredom, to block up with a never weary hand
The great blue holes the birds maliciously have made …
Still more! Unceasing let the dismal chimney-flues
Exude their smoke, and let the soot’s nomadic prison
Extinguish in the horror of its blackened queues
The sun now fading yellow away on the horizon!
–The Sky is dead. –To you I run, Oh matter! Bestow
Forgetfulness of Sin and of the cruel Ideal
Upon this martyr who comes to share the stable straw
On which the happy human herd lies down to sleep.
For there I long, because at last my mind, drained
As is a rouge-pot lying on a closet-shelf,
No longer has the art of decking tearful plaints,
To yawn lugubrious toward a humble death …
But vainly! The Azure triumphs and I hear it sing
In bells. Dear Soul, it turns into a voice the more
To fright us by its winged victory, and springs
Blue Angelus, out of the living metal core.
It travels ancient through the fog, and penetrates
Like an unerring blade your native agony;
Where flee in my revolt so useless and depraved?
For I am haunted! The Sky! The Sky! The Sky! The Sky!
–translated by Hubert Creekmore
Stéphane Mallarmé, Selected Poetry and Prose. Ed. by Mary Ann Caws. New York: New Directions, 1982. Pp. 15, 17.