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Christine North

Translations of two poems by Mallarmé

‘Withheld from nude… ’

Withheld from you oppressive nude
Ash and basalt stormclouds louring
Not even one slave-echo sounding
For the horn could not be heard

What sepulchral shipwreck (you
Know but merely dribble, foam)
One supreme but not alone
Swept the shorn mainmast from view

Or maybe mad with frenzy lacking
Some more eminent unmaking
Futilely unleashed the abyss

By the one white floating hair
Covetously drowned out there
A siren’s unformed nakedness.

‘When darkness threatened… ’

When darkness threatened with the fateful law
Some old Dream, my bones’ bane and ecstasy,
Stricken with death beneath the mournful pall
Of ceilings, it furled its sure wing in me.

Luxury, jet-black hall where, to delight
A king, famed garlands writhe in throes of death,
You’re but a show false-uttered by the night
To the lone watcher dazzled by his faith.

I know, yes, that the Earth casts far from here
In brilliant light this night’s strange mystery
Across the vile years, for them less obscure.

Expanding or denied, space still the same
Rolls in its tedium frail fires, signs that there
Once shone the genius of a festive star.

These poems (and several others) will be published later in 2006 as a pamphlet, by Perdika Press, a small poetry press based in Enfield (north London, UK).

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