Les fleurs

The flowers

Golden avalanches of ancient azure skies
On the first day, and of the eternal snow of stars
You once detached the calyxes of seas and skies,
Of the still young earth, an earth virgin to wars.

Wild gladiolus with necks as subtle as swans
With divine laurel leaf of exiled souls from dreams
Ruby, which reddens the innocence of crushed dawns,
Not unlike the flawless footsteps of seraphim

The Hyacinth, the myrtle to lightening brightened
And like the flesh of the female, the cruel rose,
Herodiade, a flower of the clear garden,
She from a fierce blood and violently arose!

And you made the sobbing whiteness of the lily
She touches upon, which sails on the seas of sighs
To the blue incense of pale skylines, dreamily
Mount upwards and towards the lonely moon which cries!

Hosanna on the lute and in incense swinging
Our Lady, garden hosanna of our limbo!
And end the echo by the heavenly evenings,
Ecstasy in looks exchanged, glistening halos!

Mother, true and strong, who created in her breast,
Calyxes which balance out future vials and jars,
The grand flowers with a bitter balsamic Death
For the poet weary of the life made from stars.


Stéphane Mallarmé, born into a middle-class family on 18 March 1842 in Paris, is one of France’s four major poets of the second half of the nineteenth century, along with Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud. A lot of his poetry was acknowledged to be difficult to understand because of its tortuous syntax, ambiguous expressions, and obscure imagery. Since his lifetime, critics have continued to disagree as to the precise interpretations of many of his later works.

Eleanor Hill is a former Sarah Lawrence College student.

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