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

Advertisements

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

ave, dea; moriturus te salutat

to Judith Gautier

Death and beauty are two deep things
which hold so much shade and light,
that one might say they were two sisters equally terrible and fertile,
holding the same enigma and the same secret.

O women, voices, looks, black hair, blonde plaits,
shine, I am dying! Hold brightness, love, fascination,
O pearls that the sea mingles with its great waves,
O shining birds of the dark forest!

Judith, our two fates are nearer one another
than one would think, to see my face and yours:
the whole divine abyss appears in your eyes,
An I feel the starry gulf in my soul;
we are both neighbors of heaven, Madame,
since you are beautiful and I am old.

Victor Hugo

le lac

So, always impelled towards new shores,
carried forever into eternal night,
can we never cast anchor
in time’s ocean for a single day?

O lake! The year has hardly finished its course and behold!
I come alone to sit upon this stone where you saw her sit,
near the beloved waves that
she was to have seen once more!

Thus you murmured beneath these steep rocks;
thus you broke upon their torn sides;
thus the wind threw the foam from your waves
on her adorable feet.

One evening, do you remember? We were sailing noiselessly;
we only heard far off, on the water and beneath the skies,
the sound of rowers rhythmically striking
the melodious waves.

All at once strains unknown to earth
struck the echoes of the spell-bound shore;
the waves were attentive, and the voice dear to me
let fall these words:

,,O time, suspend your flight! And you, propitious hours,
suspend your course!
Let us taste the swift delights
of the fairest of our days!

,,Enough unhappy beings pray to you down here on earth:
flow on, flow on for them;
together with their days take away the cares that consume them;
forget those that are happy.

,,But in vain I ask for a few more moments;
time escapes me and flees away;
I say to this night: ,,Go more slowly’’; and dawn
will scatter the night.

,,Let us love then, let us love!
Let us hasten to enjoy the fleeting hours!
Man has no harbor, time has no shore:
it flows on, and we pass by! ‘’

Jealous time, can it be that these moments of intoxication,
when love pours us happiness in long draughts,
fly far away from us with the same speed
as days of misfortune?

What! Can we not preserve their trace at least?
What! Gone for ever? What! All quite lost?
The time that gave them, the time that blots them out
will give them back to us no more?

Eternity, nothingness, past – dark abysses –
what do you do with the days you swallow up?
Speak: will you give us back those sublime
raptures that you snatch from us?

O lake! Silent rocks! Caves! Dark forest!
You whom time spares or can make young again,
keep at least the memory of that night;
keep it, fair landscape!

Let it be in your calms or in your storms,
sweet lake, and in the sight of your laughing hillsides,
and in these black pines, and in these wild rocks
overhanging your waters!

Let it be in the breeze trembling and passing by,
in the sounds of your shores and their echoes,
in the silver-browed star that whitens your surface
with its soft lights!

Let the moaning wind, the sighing reed,
the light perfumes of your scented air,
Let everything that is heard, seen, or breathed,
Let everything say: ,,They loved!’’

Alphonse de Lamartine

lonely as a cloud

On the empty mountains no one can be seen,
But human voices are heard to resound.
The reflected sunlight pierces the deep forest
And falls again upon the mossy ground.

Wang Wei