Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SONG OF THE ILL-BELOVED; TO PAUL LEAUTARD, by GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE



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THE SONG OF THE ILL-BELOVED; TO PAUL LEAUTARD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: And this is the ballad that I sang / in 1903 not knowing then
Last Line: And such songs as the sirens sing
Alternate Author Name(s): Kostrowitzky, Wilhelm Apollina
Subject(s): Desire; Love; Singing & Singers; Songs


And this is the ballad that I sang
In 1903 not knowing then
How like a Phoenix is my love
For if it dies one night the next
Morning sees it born again

One London night in a half fog
A draggled boy accosted me
So like my love that when I felt
The glance that touched me from his eyes
I dropped my own in modesty

I followed this perverse kid as
He strolled along hands pocketed
And whistling The Red Sea ditch
With houses lining either side
I was Pharaoh he the Jews

Let these brick waves wash down on us
If once I did not love you well
I am great Egypt's sovereign lord
His sister-wife and all his host
If you are not my only love

At the turn of a burning street each house-
front suppurated fiery wounds
Of mist and blood all the facades
In lamentation cried aloud
A woman who resembled him

I knew at once the inhuman eyes
The naked neck with the ragged scar
That came out staggering from some bar
The moment that I recognized
How great a cheat is love itself

When after many a weary year
Ulysses that good man reached home
His ancient dog remembered him
His wife was waiting for him near
A rug she'd woven thick and fine

The royal mate of Sacontale
Bored with his triumphs was well pleased
To find her with love-faded eyes
And face delay had made more pale
Petting her little male gazelle

I thought of those happy royalties
That night when love betraying and
She whom I loved and do love still
Beset me with their sleight of ghosts
Contriving my unhappiness

Hell's built on such regrets as these
A Heav'n of forgetfulness revealed
For a kiss from her all the world's kings
Would have gladly died poor famous things
And bartered their own shades willingly

I have been wintering in my past
O Easter sunlight come again
To warm a heart more frozen than
Sebastus' was by forty such
My life has suffered briefer pain

Fair ship O Memory have we two
Sailed long enough upon a sea
Too sour for drinking and gone astray
From sweet dawn to nagging night
Mindless heedless of our way

O false farewells O love involved
In her who takes her leave of me
The loved woman whom I lost
That last year in Germany
And whom I shall not again see

O Galaxy O luminous
Sister of the white Canaan rills
And the white flesh of girls in love
Shall we not swim in death along
That course toward systems further still

I call to mind another year
The dawning of an April day
I sang my darling pleasure I
Sang as a man sings of his love
In the love-rising of the year

AUBADE SUNG AT LAETARE A YEAR SINCE

Spring's come again Arise Paquette
And walk with me in the pretty woods
The hens go cluckcluck in the yard
Dawn hangs the sky up in pink folds
Love's on the march to take you dear

Mars and Venus have come back
To drink each other's lips in love
There in the open where roses lean
Leafing shelteringly above
The naked dance of the rose gods

Oh come this is my love's domain
The heavy flowers yield to love
Nature is all immediacy
Pan plays his woodland pipes again
The damp frogs have begun their song

Those gods are mostly dead For them
It is the weeping willows weep
The great god Pan Love Jesus Christ
Utterly dead and tomcats wail
In Paris courtyards I too weep

I who have lays fit for a queen
And love-compleynts for all my years
The choruses of fisher slaves
The ballad of the ill-beloved
And such songs as the Sirens sing

For love's dead and I shake therefore
Idols of him I now adore
Mementoes in his likeness made
Thus like Mausolus' wife I droop
Faithful in grief forevermore

For I am true as a bull-pup
To his master or as ivy to the trunk
Or the Zaporozhian Cossacks drunk
Brigandish and full of prayers
To their native steppes and the Decalogue

Under the Crescent bow your necks
That Crescent that the Mages quiz
I am the Sultan King of Kings
Zaporozhian Cossacks Ecce Rex
Your Sovereign your Dazzling Lord

Subjects swear fealty to me
Thus he had written to them once
But when they'd got his words aright
They laughed and sat down cheerfully
To answer him by candlelight

REPLY OF THE ZAPOROZHIAN COSSACKS
TO THE SULTAN OF CONSTANTINOPLE

You are worse news than Barabbas was
Horn'd like the Angels of the Pit
Are you there you old Beelzebub
Suckled on drainage and filthy mud
We must decline Walpurgisnacht

Spoilt fishfood from Saloniki
Interminable necklace of bad nights
Of eyes gouged out and speared on spikes
Your mother let a squishy fart
And of her gut-cramp you were born

Podolian hangman Fancier
Of gashes ulcers and scab-crust
Arse of horse and snout of hog
Keep whatever gold you've got
To pay the druggist for your drugs

O Galaxy O luminous
Sister of the white Canaan rills
And the white flesh of girls in love
Shall we not swim in death along
Your course toward systems further still

The hurt that troubles a whore's eyes
Lovely as a panther is
Your kisses Love were Florentine
And tasted of such bitterness
As canceled both our destinies

An evening rout of trembling stars
Trailed from those eyes and Sirens swam
Therein and our quick kisses bit
Deep into blood our fury moved
Our fairy godmothers to tears

Surely I wait for her return
I wait with all my heart and soul
And on Come-back-to-me-dear Bridge
If we must never meet again
I'll tell her That's all right by me

My heart is drained and so's my head
All heaven it seems runs out of them
To fill my Danaid casks Shall I
Ever find happiness instead
The innocence of a small child

I would not drive her from my mind
O dove O roadstead calm and white
Daisy exfoliate Isle remote
My land of dreaming My Cockayne
My gillyflower and my rose

Satyrs and pyralides
Aegipans and will-o'-the-wisps
Fates frustrate or fates fortunate
A Calais choke-string round my neck
What holocaust of miseries

O sorrow multiplying fate
The unicorn the capricorn
My soul and wavering body fly
From you Torment divine adorned
With all the morning's flower stars

Unhappiness pale god with eyes
Of ivory your mad priests bring
Your victims wrapped in robes of black
And have they shed their tears in vain
God in whom no man need have faith

And you that follow after me
Cringing god of my gods that died
In autumn You mark off the hours
Of earth that still are left to me
My Shade and my inveterate Snake

We walked together in the sun
Because remember you love it so
Shadowy wife I love you too
You are mine for ever nothing you
My ghost wears mourning for myself

Winter with all its snow is dead
The gleaming hives are all burnt down
Birds on branches overhead
Sing springtime light sing April bright
For orchard plot and garden bed

Argyraspids undying strike
The silver-targed snow gives way
Before the pale Dendrophori
Of spring that simple people like
And wet eyes learn to smile again

And me my heart's as thumping fat
As the arse of a wife from the Middle East
I loved you too much O my love
I have found too much hurt in love
Now seven swords leap from the sheath

Seven subtle blades of grief
Transfix my heart O lucent pain
My foolish mind would justify
My plight but the excuse is vain
Forget you say But how can I

THE SEVEN SWORDS

The first sword is pure silver and
Paline they call its vibrant name
Its blade a wintry snowing sky
Ghibelline blood its destiny
When he had forged it Vulcan died

The second blade is named Noubosse
Oh rainbow of delight The gods
Handle it at their wedding feasts
It's killed thirty Be-Rieux at least
Its power came from Carabosse

The third is all a woman's blue
But Cypriape for all of that
They call it Lul de Faltenin
And Hermes Ernest a midget now
Brings it in on a tablecloth

The fourth is known as Malourene
A river running green and gold
And river girls at evening bathe
The worship of their bodies in
That stream and singing boatmen pass

The fifth sword's name is Sainte-Fabeau
Prettiest of the distaff kind
A cypress shadowing a tomb
Where the four winds fall to their knees
And every night's a torch ablaze

A glory of metal is the sixth
Our friend with such small hands from whom
Each morning forces us to part
Good-bye that's the road you must take
Crowing has drained the cock's shrill heart

The seventh lies exhausted here
A woman a dead rose also
Thank you the last man to appear
Shut the door upon my love
I have not known you all these years

O Galaxy O luminous
Sister of the white Canaan rills
And the white flesh of girls in love
Shall we not swim in death along
That course toward systems further still

The quiring firmament declares
That dicing devils guide our steps
The scrape of those lost fiddles cheers
Our human dance as we descend
Backwards into the abyss

What fate inscrutable is this
The shaking madness of great kings
A sky of stiff stars shivering
Faithless women for your beds
In deserts crushed by history

The old Prince Regent Leopold
Male nurse of two mad Heads of State
Does he sob himself to sleep for them
While fireflies flash their sparkling light
Gilded for Midsummer's Night

A chateau without a chatelaine
And a barque with barcarolles near by
On a lake of white touched by the breath
Of delicate breezes It was like
A Siren sailing a dying swan

One day the King drowned in that flood
Of silver but floated up again
Mouth wide open and lay down
Upon the bank to sleep awhile
Face up beneath the fickle sky

Your sun O June your ardent lyre
Scorches the fingers of my hand
Pain-singing ecstasy of fire
I stroll through my fine Paris and
Have no heart for dying there

Each Sunday is eternity
Barrel organs creak their grief
In dingy courtyards flowers lean
From these Parisian balconies
Like towers in a Pisan scene

Nights in Paris drunk on gin
Aflare with electricity
Trams trail green fire along their spines
Take the long rails melodiously
Musicking the insane machine

Paunchy with smoke the cafes grunt
Love love love from the gypsy dance
Love from siphons sniffly-nosed
Love from the apron'd waiter-boys
Love from you love whom I loved

I who have lays fit for a queen
And love-compleynts for all my years
The choruses of fisher slaves
The balled of the ill-beloved
And such songs as the Sirens sing





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