Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, POMEGRANATE SONG, by ANDRE GIDE



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

POMEGRANATE SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Still for a long time you should seek
Last Line: That we pop near the fire.
Subject(s): Fields; Fruit; Happiness; Pomegranates; Singing & Singers; Pastures; Meadows; Leas; Joy; Delight; Songs


Still for a long time you should seek
The unattainable joys of the spirit.
—Joys of the flesh and joys of the senses,
Let another condemn you if he please,
Bitter joys of the flesh and the senses—
Let another condemn you—I do not dare.

—Really, Didier, rapt philosopher, I admire you
If belief in your thought makes you believe
The joys of the mind are preferable to all others.
But not in every spirit can such love reside.

And really I love them, also,
The vital tremblings of my soul,
Joys of the heart, joys of the mind—
But it is you, pleasures, that I sing.

Joys of the flesh, soothing as the greensward,
Charming as hedge flowers,
More quickly blown, or mown, than prairie-grass,
Than the sorry meadowsweet that a touch deflowers.

Sight—most grievous of the senses ...
All that we cannot touch wrings our despair;
The mind grasps thought more readily
Than our hand clutches what our eye is lustful for.
—Oh, may you have power to touch what you desire,
Nathaniel, and seek no more perfect possession.
The sweetest joys of my senses
Are quenched thirsts.

Really, the mist is delightful, with the rising sun on the fields—
And delightful the sun—
Delightful is the moist ground under bare feet
And the sand wet with the sea;
Delightful to bathe in the water of springs;
To kiss the unknown lips my lips shall touch in the darkness.

But of fruits—of fruits—what shall I say, Nathaniel?

Oh, that you have never known them,
Nathaniel, leaves me in despair ...
Their pulp was delicious and juicy,
Savored as bleeding flesh,
Red as the blood that springs from a wound.
... These do not require, Nathaniel, any special thirst; insipid;
They are served in golden baskets;
Their flavor disgusts one at first, for they are unutterably
They suggest the taste of no fruit of our country;
They recall the flavor of over-ripe guava-fruit,
And their skin seems worn out;
They leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth;
This can be cured only by eating another;
Hardly soon does the pleasure last longer
Than the instant of tasting the juice;
And that instant seems as much more delightful
As the tastelessness that follows disgusts.
The basket was rapidly emptied ...
Only we left the last
Rather than share it.

Alas! Afterward, Nathaniel, who can tell
Of the bitter burning of our lips?
No water could wash them—
The desire of those fruits tormented our very soul.

For three days, on our journeying, we sought them;
Their season had ended.
Where, Nathaniel, in our travels,
Were new fruits to yield us new desires?

There are some we shall eat on terraces,
Beside the sea, before the setting sun.
There are some that are candied in sugared icing
That holds one drop of liqueur.

There are some that are gathered from quiet trees
Of private gardens, wall-enclosed,
Eaten in the shade of a tropical season.
Little tables are set forth—
The fruit will fall about us
As the branches are shaken
And the torpid flies reawake.
The fallen fruit will be gathered up on platters
And its very perfume serves to charm us there ...

There are some whose rind spots the lips, eaten only when one's thirst is
parching.
We have found them along gravel roads;
They gleamed amidst the spiny foliage
That scratched our hands as we tried to pick the fruit:
And our thirst was hardly slaked.
There are some that become jam
Just by lying in the sun.
There are some whose skin stays sour in spite of winter,
Bite them and your teeth are set on edge.
There are some whose rind is always cold, even in summer.
They are eaten squatting on mats
Inside little taverns.
There are some whose memory matches a thirst
When they can no longer be found.

Nathaniel, shall I speak to you of pomegranates?
They are sold for a couple of cents, at this Oriental fair,
On reed wattles where they have fallen.
You can see them roll off into the dust
And naked children gathering them up.
—Their juice is tart as unripe raspberries.
Their flower seems made of wax;
It wears the fruit-color.
Guarded treasure, hive-compartments,
Abundance of flavor,
Pentagonal structure.

The rind splits, the seeds fall—
Seeds of blood in cups of azure!
Or drops of gold in plates of studded bronze!

—Now sing the fig, Samiana,
Because its loves are hid.

I sing the fig, she said,
Whose fair colors are hid.
Its flowering is self-enclosed.
Fig! Sealed room where the bridals enwreathe;
No fragrance brings the word of them outside.
As nothing of it passes away
All the perfume grows to succulence and savor.
Flower without beauty; fruit of delight;
Fruit that are your own flower ripened.

I have sung the fig, she said,
Sing now all the flowers ...
And the sharp sloe of the hedges
That the snow makes sweet,
The medlar that is eaten only when rotten;
And the chestnut, of the color of dead leaves,
That we pop near the fire.





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