Stéphane Mallarmé

(1842-1898 / France)

Sea Breeze - Poem by Stéphane Mallarmé

The flesh is sad, Alas! and I have read all the books.
Let’s go! Far off. Let’s go! I sense
that the birds, intoxicated, fly
deep into unknown spume and sky!
Nothing – not even old gardens mirrored by eyes –
can restrain this heart that drenches itself in the sea,
O nights, or the abandoned light of my lamp,
on the void of paper, that whiteness defends,
no, not even the young woman feeding her child.
I will go! Steamer, straining at your ropes
lift your anchor towards an exotic rawness!
A Boredom, made desolate by cruel hope
still believes in the last goodbye of handkerchiefs!
And perhaps the masts, inviting lightning,
are those the gale bends over shipwrecks,
lost, without masts, without masts, no fertile islands...
But, oh my heart, listen to the sailors’ chant!

Comments about Sea Breeze by Stéphane Mallarmé

  • (8/20/2015 8:42:00 PM)

    Translation of Verlaine is is a thankless task. Effective translation of Mallarme may be impossible. The poetry of both is mysteriously sheathed in the shimmer of 'la belle langue' and generally cannot be rendered into a 'vowel-less' language like English. Sonic effects and subtleties of rhythm may make logical chimeras convincing. Verlaine at least offers a logical narrative for rendering, but Mallarme, not so. Readers of English as an only language, beware. You are not really reading Mallarme (Report) Reply

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  • Daniel Brick (8/20/2015 7:35:00 PM)

    This is an early poem by Mallarme, written when he felt trapped by the life he was living, stuck in the provinces, dissatisfied as a high school teacher, straddled with wife and new child, cut off from contact with other poets. Is it any surprise he dreamed of escape, that is, escapism, because this is the most impractical resolution? It is a compensatory day-dream, but one vivid with that curious mixture of sensuality and spirituality he had inherited from Baudelaire, Nerval, even Gautier. No, he did not take a journey of flight but was soon to internalize such desires, turn them into symbolist literature and produce first drafts of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN and HERODIADE. Years later, in his elegy for Gautier, he gave us a sublimated, internalized echo of this desire for escape: RECALLED HORIZONS, SPEAK, WHAT IS THE EARTH? And the answer that echoes back: I DON'T KNOW. Mallarme was engaged, in his own words, to find AN ORPHIC EXPLANATION OF THE EARTH. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (8/20/2015 5:03:00 PM)

    Listen the sailors's chant. Nice work. (Report) Reply

  • Frank (black) Blacharczyk (8/20/2015 11:36:00 AM)

    Nice imagery of a heart's desire (Report) Reply

  • Alpeshkumar Natubhai Makvana (8/20/2015 5:44:00 AM)

    Land is lifeless so the ship is towards ultumate voyage. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (8/20/2015 12:21:00 AM)

    Voyage on the sea and the sea breeze telling many stories are wonderful to feel about reading this poem! (Report) Reply

  • (7/25/2008 12:09:00 PM)

    Classic simbolist poetry. How representative... (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: woman, sad, child, hope, lost, sea, sky, light, heart, believe, mirror, women, children

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, January 21, 2003

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