Prose Poem by Stéphane Mallarmé


Hyperbole! From my memory
Triumphantly can’t you
Rise today, like sorcery
From an iron-bound book or two:

Since, through science, I inscribe
The hymn of hearts so spiritual
In my work of patience, inside
Atlas, herbal, ritual.

We walked our face
(We were two, I maintain)
Over the many charms of place,
Comparing them, Sister, to yours again.

The era of authority’s troubled
When without design, we say
Of this south that our double
Consciousness has in play

That its site, bed of a hundred irises,
They know if it truly existed,
Bears no name the golden breath
Of the trumpet of summer cited.

Yes, on an isle the air charges
With sight and not with visions
Every flower showed itself larger
Without entering our discussions.

Such flowers, immense, that every one
Usually had as adornment
A clear contour, a lacuna done
To separate it from the garden.

Glories of long-held desire, Ideas
Were all exalted in me, to see
The Iris family appear
Rising to this new duty,

But this sister sensible and fond
Carried her look no further
Than to smile, and as if to understand
I give her my ancient care.

Oh! Let the contentious spirit know
At this hour when we are silent
The stalks of multiple lilies grow
Far too tall for our reason

And not as the riverbank weeps
When its tedious game tells lies
In wishing abundance would reach
Into my young surprise

On hearing the whole sky and the map
Behind my steps, endlessly called to witness,
Even the ebbing wave, that
This country never existed.

The child already learned in roads,
Resigns her ecstasy
Says the word: Anastasius!
Born for parchments’ eternity,

Before a tomb could laugh
In any clime, her ancestor,
For bearing that name: Pulcheria!
Hidden by the too-high lily-flower.

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