the bulls

The sea plains, motionless and bare,
cut the depth of the clouds with a long streak of gold.
Only a pink mist, dawdling in the sky,
twists languidly like a slender snake
on the jagged crest of the silent mountains.
A slow breath filled with subtle intoxication
floats over the savannah and the mossy slopes
where muscular, hump-backed bulls with glossy coats,
long horns, and hollow, bloodshot eyes are grazing
upon the short salty grass of the coasts.
Two lean Antongil negroes, loins bent, elbows on knees,
palms beneath their chins, squatting on their hams,
smoke their black pipes absorbed
in the stupidity of a long dream.
But the usual head of the savage herd,
feeling the shadow coming and the hour for the corral,
with silver foam at both corners of his mouth,
stretches out his flat muzzle and bellows over the waves.

Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle

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noon

Noon, king of summers, spread over the plain,
falls in silver sheets from the heights of the blue sky.
Everything is quiet. Breathlessly the air flames and burns;
earth drowses in its fiery dress.

The expanse is vast, the fields have no shade,
and the spring where the flocks used to drink is dried up;
the distant forest, whose edge is dark,
motionlessly slumbers over there in a heavy sleep.

Only the great ripe cornfields, like a golden sea,
roll far away disdaining sleep;
as peaceful children of the sacred earth,
fearlessly they drain the sun’s cup.

Sometimes, like a sigh from their burning soul,
from the bosom of the heavy ears, murmuring among themselves,
a majestically slow undulation awakens and
goes to die on the dusty horizon.

Not far away some white oxen lying in the grass
dribble slowly on their heavy dewlaps
and follow with their proud, languid eyes
the inner dream they never finish.

Man, if towards noon you passed into the blazing fields
with your heart full of joy or bitterness,
flee! Nature is empty and the sun devours:
nothing is living here, nothing is sad or joyful.

But if, disillusioned with tears or laughter,
parched for forgetfulness of this busy world,
no longer knowing how to pardon or to curse,
you wish to taste a last desolate pleasure,

Come! The sun speaks to you in sublime words;
be endlessly absorbed in its relentless flame;
and return with slow steps towards the abject cities,
your heart seven times bathed in the divine void.

Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle