The Flowers

By Stéphane Mallarmé 1842–1898 Stephane Mallarme

Translated By Henry Weinfield

From golden showers of the ancient skies,
On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars,
You once unfastened giant calyxes
For the young earth still innocent of scars:
 
Young gladioli with the necks of swans,
Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream,
Vermilion as the modesty of dawns
Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim;
 
The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright,
And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose,
Hérodiade blooming in the garden light,
She that from wild and radiant blood arose!
 
And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily
That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends
Through the blue incense of horizons, palely
Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends!
 
Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,
Lady, and of our purgatorial groves!
Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer,
Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love!
 
Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom,
Formed calyxes balancing the future flask,
Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam
For the weary poet withering on the husk.

Stéphane Mallarmé, "The Flowers" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Stéphane Mallarmé.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Collected Poems (The University of California Press, 1994)

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Poet Stéphane Mallarmé 1842–1898

POET’S REGION France

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology, Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Symbolist

Biography

Stéphane Mallarmé 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. Although he was recognized as such during his lifetime, much 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 . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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