from “Octonaires on the World’s Vanity and Inconstancy”

By Antoine de Chandieu 1534–1591 Antoine de Chandieu

Translated from the French by Nate Klug Read the translator's notes

Ice glitters like it’s good.
The whole world glitters,
sped towards ends,
we all fall in.

Under the ice is water.
But under the world, between you
and the everything
of your vanishing . . .


Fire, air, water, and earth
still turning, spilling into each other.
He tuned the world tense,
made the elements restless

so any happiness we might contrive
of fire, or air, or water, or earth
cannot rest, has to reach higher
than earth, water, air, or fire.


It’s all echo—whatever world
keeps calling to you
in the woods, in a rock, a deep wave—
Just a lie that vanishes

as soon as it tricks you inside.
Shut up, go away, say to the world.
And it does—into the woods, a rock,
deep waves that keep calling you.


When the sky’s dark face
catches your eye again,
let memory write
of a darkness beyond this:

days self-blinded, nights
of searching untaught,
thinking your own thought,


Wanting what you fear,
fearing your own desire:
icicles at the heart
form to burn apart.

When, in this cycle
of suffering he sings,
does the martyr begin
to suspect himself?

Source: Poetry (June 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2011


Antoine de Chandieu was a pastor, theologian, polemicist, community organizer, and occasional poet who played a key role in the establishment of the Protestant Church in France.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Religion, Faith & Doubt

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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