“The Flowers”

by Stéphane Mallarmé  (translated by Henry Weinfield)

The Flowers by Stéphane Mallarmé“From golden showers of the ancient skies,

On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars,

You once unfastened giant calyxes

For the young earth still innocent of scars:

Young gladioli with the necks of swans,

Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream,

Vermilion as the modesty of dawns

Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim;

The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright,

And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose,

Hérodiade blooming in the garden light,

She that from wild and radiant blood arose!

And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily

That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends

Through the blue incense of horizons, palely

Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends!

Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,

Lady, and of our purgatorial groves!

Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer,

Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love!

Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom,

Formed calyxes balancing the future flask,

Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam

For the weary poet withering on the husk.”


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