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Ancient Overture of Herodiade.


Abolished, and her frightful wing in the tears
in the pool, abolished, that mirrors the alarms,
the naked golds flaying the crimson space,
an Aurora has, heraldic plumage, chosen
our cinerary, sacrificial tower,
heavy tomb a beautiful bird has fled, lone
whim of dawn in vain black plumage ...
Ah! sad and defeated country's manor!
No splashing! The mournful water has given up,
no longer visited by feather and the unforgettable swan:
the water reflects the abandon
of autumn quenching his brand in it:
of the swan when into the pale mausoleum
of feathers he plunged his head, unnerved
by the pure diamond of some star, one
of old times, that never scintillated.

Crime! Immolation! Ancient dawn! Torture!
Purple of a sky! Pool complicit in purple!
and wide open on the incarnadine, this stained glass.
The strange framed chamber, paraphernalia
of warlike centuries, faded goldsmiths' work,
has swapped old snow for its ancient colours,
and its tapestries, of nacreous lustre, useless
folds with the shrouded eyes
of sibyls offering their old fingernail to the Mages.
One of them, with a past of leaves
on her robe bleached in ivory
closed to a sky of birds scattered on black silver
seems, dressed in departed flights and ghostlike,
an aroma which carries, o roses! an aroma,
far from the empty bed hid by a snuffed-out candle,
an aroma of cold golds creeping over the sachet,
a bunch of flowers unfaithful to the moon,
(one still drops its petals into the dead wax),
whose long regrets and stems
soak in a lone vase whose brilliance languishes ...
an Aurora dragged her wings in the tears!

Magician shadow with symbolic charms!
A voice, long evocation of the past,
is it mine, ready for the incantation?
Still dragging in the yellow folds of thought,
antique, as a cloth of incense
on a confused mass of cooling church utensils,
through ancient holes and through the stiffened folds
pierced rhythmically and the pure lace
of the shroud, through its fine embroidery desperately
rises the old veiled brilliance
(o, what a distance hidden in these cries!)
the old veiled brilliance of the strange vermilion
of the languishing voice, null, without acolyte,
it will throw away its gold among final splendours,
still the antiphony of plaintiff hymns
in the hour of agony and death-struggles!
and, by the power of silence and black shadows,
all returns equally to the ancient past,
fated, vanquished, monotonous, tired
as the water of ancient pools gives up.

She has sung, sometimes incoherently, lamentable
 The bed with vellum pages,
useless and so cloistral, is not linen!
No more the dear book of dreams from its folds,
nor the sepulchral dais' deserted silk,
the perfume of sleeping hair. Did it have that?
Cold child, to take her subtle pleasure,
walks in the morning shivering with flowers,
and when spiteful evening has cut the pomegranates!
The crescent, yes that alone on the iron face
of the clock, for a weight suspending Lucifer,
always wounds, always another hour
wept in dark drops by the clepsydra,
when she, abandoned, wanders, and in her shadow
never an angel dogs her inexpressible steps!
The king does not know this, who for so long
has paid the ancient, dried-up breasts.
Her father does not know this, nor the fierce
glacier reflecting his steel armoury,
when over a pile of corpses without coffins,
smelling of resin, enigmatic, he offers
his dark and silver trumpets to the old pine trees!
Will he come back one day from cisalpine lands?
Soon enough? here all is omen and bad dreams!
On the fingernail lifted in the stained glass window
as if remembering the trumpets, the old
sky burns, changing the finger to an envious candle.
And soon the redness of the sad twilight
will penetrate the shrinking body of wax!
Not twilight, no, but the rise of red,
rise of the last day, everything must end,
struggling so sadly no-one knows the hour,
the red of this prophetic time, weeping
over the child, exiled in her precious heart
like a swan hiding its eyes in its feathers,
as the old swan placed them in its feathers, gone
from distressed feathers, down the eternal avenue
of her hopes, to see the chosen diamonds
of a dying star, which no longer shines!

from Mallarme
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Article Details
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Author:Manson, Peter
Publication:Chicago Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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