Maurice Polydore-Marie-Bernard Maeterlinck

The Soul

My soul!
O my soul, verily too closely sheltered!
And the flocks of my desires, imprisoned in a house of glass!
Waiting until the tempest shall break over the meadows!

Come first to these, so sick and fragile:
From these a strange effluvium rises,
And lo, it seems I am with my mother,
Crossing a field of battle.
They are burying a brother-in-arms at noon,
While the sentinels are snatching a meal.

Now let us go to the feeblest:
They are covered with a strange sweat.
Here is an ailing bride,
And a treacherous act, committed upon a Sabbath,

And little children in prison,
And yonder, yonder through the mist,
Do I see there a woman, dying at the door of a kitchen,
Or a Sister of Charity shelling peas at the bedside of a dying patient?

Last of all let us go to the saddest:
(Last of all, for these are venom'd.)
Oh, my lips are pressed by the kisses of a wounded man!

In the castles of my soul this summer all the chatelaines have died of hunger!
Now it is twilight on the morning of a day of festival!
I catch a glimpse of sheep along the quays,
And there is a sail by the windows of the hospital.

The road is long from my soul to my heart,
And all the sentinels have died at their post!
One day there was a poor little festival in the suburbs of my soul:
They were mowing the hemlock there, one Sunday morning.
And all the maiden women of the convent were watching the vessels passing,
On the canal, one sunny fast-day.
But the swans were ailing, in the shadow of the rotting bridge.
They were lopping the trees about the prison,
They were bringing remedies, on an afternoon of June,
And in every quarter there were sick folk feasting!
Alas, my soul,
And alas, the sadness of all these things!

Submitted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010


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