Thursday, April 14, 2016


I've always been, on the surface, a Rimbaud gal myself, but a recent article in the New Yorker turned me on to Mallarme, specifically a translation of this poem:

The virginal, enduring, beautiful today
will a drunken beat of its wing break us
this hard, forgotten lake haunted under frost
by the transparent glacier of unfled flights!

A swan of old remembers it is he
magnificent but who without hope frees himself
for never having sung a place to live
when the boredom of sterile winter was resplendent.

His whole neck will shake off this white death-throe
inflicted by space on the bird denying it,
but not the horror of soil where the feathers are caught.

Phantom assigned to this place by pure brilliance,
he is paralyzed in the cold dream of contempt
put on in useless exile by the Swan.

The article goes on to explain how no one understands Mallarme, much less this poem. And how even the French ask for a "translation" of the French Mallarme.

After reading this poem, I "understand" Mallarme completely. Not knowing French. Having read nothing else from him. Makes me want to write again.

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