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Stéphane Mallarmé

(1842-1898 / France)

Sonnet: ‘Quand l’ombre menaça…’


When the shadow of fatal law menaced me
A certain old dream, sick desire of my spine,
Beneath funereal ceilings afflicted by dying
Folded its indubitable wing within me.

Luxury, O ebony hall, where to tempt a king
Famous garlands are writhing in death,
You are only pride, shadows’ lying breath
For the eyes of a recluse dazed by believing.

Yes, I know that Earth in the depths of this night,
Casts a strange mystery with vast brilliant light
Beneath hideous centuries that darken it the less.

Space, like itself, whether denied or expanded
Revolves in this boredom vile flames as witness
That a festive star’s genius has been enkindled.

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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