Classic and Contemporary Poetry
MEMORY, by ARTHUR RIMBAUD Poet's Biography
First Line: Clear water; like the salt of childhood's tears
Last Line: On the bottom of this rimless eye . . . In what mud!
Clear water; like the salt of childhood's tears,
whiteness of women's bodies assaulted in the sun;
silk, in mass and lily pure, of oriflammes
under the walls some Maid had defended
frolic of angels. -No . . . the marching current of gold
moves black arms, heavy and supremely cool with grass.
She, dark, with blue Heaven for bed canopy, summons
the shadow of the hill and of the arch for curtains.
Eh! the wet pane holding out its limpid bubbles!
With bottomless pale gold the water clothes the waiting beds.
And out of the willows-faded green pinafores
of little girls-hop the unbridled birds.
Yellower than a louis, eyelid warm and pure,
the watchful marigold-your conjugal pledge, O Spouse!
at prompt midday from its tarnished mirror envies,
in the gray-hot sky, the pink and precious Sphere.
Madam standing in the meadow too erect,
where snow the sons of toil; poking with sun umbrella
the umbels of the flowers too proud for her;
her children with their book of red morocco
reading in the flowering grass! But He, alas,
like a thousand angels separating on the road,
goes off across the mountain! While She,
all black and cold, hurries after the man's departure!
Regret for arms with pure grass strong and young!
April moons in the heart of the holy bed! Joy
of abandoned lumber yards along the river, prey
to August dusks that made putrescence germinate!
Let her weep now below the ramparts; above,
the poplars' breath is only for the breeze.
Then the gray sheet without reflections or spring
where, in his motionless barge, an old man dredges.
Sport of this sad water eye, I cannot reach,
O boat immovable! O arms too short! either this
or the other flower; neither the yellow importuning me,
nor the blue one, friend of the ashy water.
Ah, the powder of the willows that a wing shakes!
The roses of the reeds devoured long ago!
My boat stuck fast; and its chain that drags
On the bottom of this rimless eye . . . in what mud!
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