Azure: Poems and Selections from the

Azure: Poems and Selections from the "Livre"

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Overview

<P>During his lifetime, Stéphane Mallarmé (1842 – 1898) was recognized as one of the greatest living French poets. He wrote extensively on themes of reality and his desire to turn away from it, marrying form and content in revolutionary ways that departed drastically from the more tightly controlled French tradition. Despite his status as one of the first modernists, much of Mallarmé's radicalism has been lost in translation. Finally, in this new collection by Blake Bronson-Bartlett and Robert Fernandez, the magic and mastery of form and diction, so striking in Mallarmé's French verse, comes to life in English. Drawing from Poésies (1899), Un coup de dés (A Cast of Dice), and the "Livre" (the "Book"—the overarching conceptual work left unfinished at the death of the poet), this collection captures Mallarmé's true linguistic brilliance, bringing the poems into our current history while retaining the music, playfulness, and power of the originals.</P>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819575814
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 12/01/2015
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 232
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

<P>STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ was a poet and critic. Considered an influence on Symbolism, Decadence, and other late nineteenth-century aesthetic movements, Mallarmé's weekly salons were part of the heart of Parisian intellectual life and drew writers such as Yeats, Rilke, and Valéry. Blake Bronson-Bartlett is a postdoctoral teaching fellow in American Studies at Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany. His scholarship on Walt Whitman in French translation can be found at www.whitmanarchive.org. Robert Fernandez is the author of two collections of poetry, We Are Pharaoh and Pink Reef, and his poems have appeared in Poetry, A Public Space, Court Green, and elsewhere. He lives in Iowa City.</P>

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Poésies

Then nothing, bright spray, hymnal holiday,
To show us but this skin;
Dead ahead, impacted sirens Roll perversely: a log of bodies

We set our course, O rangy Friends, I already at aft,
You at the glinting fore which breaks The sea's membrane of flashes and shivers

A honeyed drunkenness sends me Fearless into foundering Forward with poise to toast

Solitude, reef, star These which gathered, drew resonant And plumped the naked canvas of our craft



HEX

Above the harried mortal rabble Leapt through clearings savage manes Of sapphire beggars along our path

Banners a black wind unfurled on the march Scored the flesh with such icy cruelty That it lifted stranger ruts there

Hoping always to end at sea,
They traveled without bread, sticks or urns,
Biting gold citrons of the bitter ideal

Most expired in midnight processions,
High on images of glutting blood,
O Death the only kiss for sewn lips!

A mighty angel rips their stitching Erect on the horizon in a sword's flowering folds:
Crimson stiffens in the desiring breast

They nurse at sadness as they nurse dream And when their fat tears course steadily The people kneel and their mother rises

They are consoled, assured and majestic;
But drag behind them their 100 scored brothers,
Trash sacrifice of chance and ruin

Salt tears wreck their tender cheeks,
They eat ash with identical self-same love,
However vulgar or idiotic is the taunt of fate

They could also rouse like drums The ressentiment of clotted races,
Peers of an unpicked Prometheus!

No, vile and bone-dry fixtures of deserts,
They are harried by the lash of a furious tyrant,
Hex, death-spell and silent laughter shackling them

He likes it from both ends and all holes, the liberal!
Torrent purged, he slops you in mire And leaves coupling white swimmers in muddy tangles

Thanks to him, if someone ejaculates through his horn,
Children trap us in obstinate laughter As, fist to ass, they simulate fist-fuck Huzzas

Thanks to him, if someone adorns a sunken chest By pinning a rose to it which, nubile, revives it,
Drool will glisten on the condemned bouquet

And this midget skeleton, styled with feathered cap And boots, whose armpit hairs stream like maggots,
Is for them an infinity of disaffection and pain

Angered they would provoke the perverse,
Their shiny new blade following moonlight rays Which pack snow in its carcass and criss-cross it

Desolate and without the pride that sanctifies misfortune,
And depressed by defending their bones from pecking birds,
Animus takes the place of regret

They are the joke of scrapers of base instruments,
Of urchins, of harlots and of the ancient order Of dancing street kids when the bottle is drained to the last

The poets good for pity or vengeance,
Not understanding what's wrong with these absent gods,
Call them stunted and unsound

"They flee, having had enough,
As a virgin mare the tempest foam,
Sooner than part in clanking, gallops

We will gorge the victor with incense at the feast:
But they, why not take them up, these actors,
Whose scarlet exhalations scream stop!"

When all the rest have spit on them disdainfully,
Null and in wisps of base words of prayer for thunder,
These heroes in excess of touching misfortune

Will hang themselves ludicrously from street lamps


APPARITION

The moon, sullen. Teary seraphim Dreaming, bow in hand, in calm of misty Flowers, drew from dying violas White sobs evacuating across blue corollas.
— Your kiss present at the birth of a world.
My loving zero, martyrizing me,
Tears the bell-ringer, despair, perfume That without regret or dregs Crusts the pipe with potent resin.
I wandered thus, my eyes on the stones When, sun rushing through you, in the street And at evening, you appeared to me laughing And I thought I saw the maiden with the sun-grail Who, in the drowsy roilings of a spoiled child,
Always used to pass, releasing from unclosed hands A flurry of white bouquets, bloom of perfumed stars


HOPELESS PLEA

Princess! jealous of the fate of a Hebe Who rises up along his cup to steal a kiss,
I extinguish my fires but am only a poor abbot And will not figure naked on the Sèvres porcelain

As I am not your bearded spaniel,
Pastille or rouge, or childish game,
And since on me your gaze has fallen,
Blond whose divine coiffeurs are goldsmiths!

Name us ... you for whom so many peals of Raspberry laughter combine in your very own troop of lambs Grazing on everyone's vows and bleating my delight,

Name us ... so that Love winged with a fan Paints me with flute in fingers lulling this flock,
Princess, name us the shepherd of your smiles


THIS WORKED-OVER CLOWN

Eyes, lakes reborn with pooling drunkenness Far from the actor whose gesture evoked The shivering black plumes of gas-lamps —

I ate a window through a wall of canvas My treacherous swimmer's leg and arms,
In multiplied lengths, saying to hell with that shitty Hamlet! It's as if, in the tide, I improvised A thousand dead grottos in which to, virgin, disappear

Hysterical gold cymbals in crazed fists,
Suddenly sun pierces the nudity Blazing from my pearly freshness,

Night of skin sloughing off and puss gallons,
Not knowing, ingrate! that it was my sole hope,
This greasepaint drowned in glacial waters of evil


WINDOWS

Done with hospice, and with the stink Rising along bland white curtains To the outsized crucifix stranded on the wall,
This moribund hustler straightens his flaccid back

Less to keep his carcass warm Than to see a little sun on the cobblestones, to press Against the glass the strands of his frail Frame that a shaft of light would lend some color

His mouth, watering for the Azure —
As when, once young, it sucked up bounty,
Sapphire hymnics, once upon a time! — streaks With a long, bitter kiss the window's hive

Drunk, inflamed, he forgets medicinal oils,
Sheets, the clock, the acrid bed,
The cough; and when night washes over the rooftops,
He sees in dancing twilight

Golden prison ships — swans Drowsing in a fragrant, purple river —
Rocking their bright, savage tackle In magisterial aloofness, flush with memory

Thus, seized with revulsion for any pig Wallowing in fat comfort (his every appetite Sated), who roots around in filth To offer filth to the sow suckling his little pigs

Thus I flee and cling to the window's cells Where one can turn one's back to the world, and, shagged With evening's dust, bathed by ageless waters,
Anointed with Infinity's daybreaks,

Reflected I see myself an angel! and I die, and I love
— Whether the window is art or the mystic —
I am reborn, wearing my dream-diadem,
In originary skies where Beauty flowers!

Yet, alas! Flesh is master, captivation Crushes, nauseates me in this playpen,
And a regurgitated spray of Idiocy Forces me to close my face against this sky

O You, who know bitterness, is there a way To break this Antichrist-defiled crystal And to flee, with my two naked wings
— At the risk of endless, eternal plummet?


FLOWERS

Of golden avalanches from sapphires, o day And of the permafrost of stars Once you unlatched prodigious calyxes For the earth, still young and unbreached,

Tender gladioli, trim-necked swans,
And this divine laurel of exiled souls Vermilion naked toes of seraphim Blushing with dawn's prudishness,

Hyacinth, myrtle in charming daybreak And, similar to her flesh, cruel rose,
Hérodiade blooms in manicured gardens,
Streaked by wild and radiant blood!

And you've made the lilies' plaintive white,
An ocean of sighing, drift across Bands of smoking sapphire: horizon
(They climb airily toward a weepy moon)

Hosannah strings and fragrant ashes,
Our lady, hosannah garden of limbs!
Echo's ouroboros comes complete through celestial nights Dissolving ecstasy's shrouds across us

O Mother, from your center, just And powerful, glass calyxes hold Black incense of Death and hold futures For that poet whose marrow's scraped clear


RENEWAL

Sickly spring's sadly chased Winter, season of hard art, serene and lucid,
And in my center where mournful blood has its throne Ennui stretches

Remeron-white twilights A circle of iron encloses an old tomb,
And, mournful, I wander after a dream like lavender Through fields of immense strutting juices

Then I fall, annoyed by arboreal perfumes, weary,
And for the dream digging a ditch with my face,
Biting warm earth where the lilacs grow,

I wait, sag-collapse, dragged under by boredom ...
— But laughter's Azure glints on the bush and in the flight Of so many birds that blister and chitter in the sun


ANGUISH

I'm not here tonight to break that castle, o beast Sin thickened, don't want to dig No grave in your filthy hair for my gushes Of terminal ennui, my kiss smoking:

I want death's sleep in your bed And to lurk under repression's veils In the aftertaste of your black frauds, you Who know more of nothing than the dead:

For depravity corrodes gold bones,
And has, like you, clipped me,
But while your stone torso's occupied

By a heart unscratched by crime's tooth,
I flee, blood drained, defeated,
My waxen brother haunting me,
And I fear the ancestors as I sleep alone

* * *

Tired of my indolence,
Crown for which I'd once fled a childhood Of rose forests under purple skies,
And seven-knotted weary of the hard pact Of digging, at daybreak, a fresh grave In my brain's greedy, cold town,
Gravedigger, no pity for wormlessness,
— What to say to the Dawn, Dreams, visited By roses when, in fear of such livid roses,
This vast cemetery stitches together empty holes? —
Let's unmoor from viciousness And, smiling at rebukes of friends, the past,
Genius, and my lamp that sees me writhe,
Imitating a heart of Chinese silk and water Whose ecstasy paints the end On lunar cups of snow, so perfect,
Of a flower, weird, scent saturating his life,
Naked, flower sensed, child,
Its soul-blue filigree eats a way through.
The wise can't see, serene,
So I'll choose a young province That I'll also paint on cups, half-interested.
An azure strip, thin and whitish,
Would be a lake on porcelain horizon,
A ribbon lost in a stark cloud,
And soak its sedate horn in water's crystal,
Not far from three pinkish, big, emerald eyelashes


THE BELL RINGER

Clear bell chimes In the pure clear and deep morning Passing over a child murmuring an angelus In lavender and thyme

The bell ringer, brushed by some pigeon,
Hanging sad and whispering Latins On the stone that tightens the worldly rope,
Hears only a far-away twinkle scratch him

I am he, oh. These nights of wanting,
So hard to pull the rope and chime Ideals As faithful wings extend their cold sins

And the voice comes in chips and heaves!
But, one day, having hit the note, o Evil,
I will free this block, hang myself


SUMMERTIME SADNESS

Sun on sand. Sunstroked, sleepy hustler.
Your gold hair's undulant warm blonde,
And burning incense from your every cheek,
Love's concoction's mixed with tears

Of this white phosphorus ribbon the immutable Has made you say, sad, o my wet kisses:
"We will never be one mummy, singled,
Beneath ancient desert and rustling palms!"

Her hair's a warm, flooded Nile In which to calmly drown soul's obsession And find that Nothing you don't know

I will taste your streaked eyelids To see if it gives to the heart, that beats for you,
The indifference of azure and stones


THE AZURE

Of Azure, fixed. Serene irony overwhelms,
Lovely laziness like flowers,
The poet, abject, who curses his gift Across dead desert pain

Fleeing, eyes closed, I feel it watch With the fever of earthen guilt,
My soul, nothing. Where to go? And what sad night To throw, in tatters, across this overpowering contempt?

Up! Up! Smoggy clouds pour your monotone cinders,
Gusts of billowing yellow smoke, into the sky.
Let's drown this livid morass of autumns And build a vast mirror: silence!

And you, mindless in filth, clean up To see these pale roses in the mud,
O Ennui, to play with a worker's hand The huge blue holes, glint-evil, birds make

Again! Let the chimneys smoke Forever, on, and a nomad prison, ash,
Snuff with its dragon's tail The sun slicing itself up on horizon

— Sky's dead. — Toward you I run. Give, o Heaviness of all things, forgetfulness of the Ideal And of sin, to this martyr who sojourns Among the sweat of mortal cattle

I want out. My empty brain, empty As a pot of face paint at the wall's foot,
Dry, empty, it can't face paint, mask, a weepy idea Shuttling some girth toward pinned eyes. .

Vain! Azure triumphs. I hear it sing —
In the bells, my soul — sings, scandal Of Victory and should-not-be. Terrifies;
Surges up from living metal in seraph-sapphire

Rolls in on the fog. Ancient. Crosses That inner rift like a steady cleaver.
Where flee this revolt, useless, perverse?
I am haunted. Azure! Azure! Azure! Azure!


SEA BREEZE

Sad flesh. And I've read all the books.
Adieu. Go down below. I feel like birds are drunk On hanging around the unicorn's froth and sky.
Nothing, not old gardens in the eyebanks,
Will box up, tidy, a heart sloshed at sea.
O nights! Nor the lamp's Sahara On empty paper,
And not the sixteen-year-old nursing.
Fuck this. Steamship tipping your mast,
Lift anchor for nature's exotics!
I'll slough off Ennui by being cruel And I'll believe again in the supreme farewell of handkerchiefs!
Maybe the masts, which want storms,
Storms where the wind bends its knee over shipwrecks Lost, mastless, mastless, nor fertile isles ...
Dear heart! Hear the song of these watchers of the sea


SIGH

Soul to forehead where night cinema, o calm sister,
An autumn surging stingray-red edges,
And to your eye of tents and deserts, angels,
Climbs, in a chilly purple garden,
Faithfully, a sighing leaping waterjet, straight to Azure!
— To mellowed Azure of October,
Which mirrors in huge pools its infinite whatever And drags, on still water whose windy Gray heaped leaves drag agony into a furrow,
A long ray of sun behind it


ALMS

Eat it, you beggar,
This succorless dried-up titty of demented nourishment.
Suck glass, shard on shard

Lift evil, like black caramel, from this platinum And, vast as us, in fistfuls, let's kiss it, huff Till it twists — and with fuck-all relish

Censors burning, all the walls Harbor a blue so clear,
And cigarettes make prayers,

And the Oxys make the shelves shatter.
They look good, luxed, bare thigh, and you want To strip off that satin and drink it off in joyful waves

Do you wait for morning by princely cafes?
Frescos of nymphs and vials Press their feasts toward beggars

And when you go, old god, shivering under skeins,
Dawn's a pool of gold wine,
And you've a star stuck in your throat

You miscalculated. Your ecstasy's early.
At least you can light yourself a little plume At mass to the saint to whom you're always crawling back

I ain't taking shit.
Earth opens its old self to the starving, yes.
I despise other alms. Just forget me

Whatever you do, brother, don't go buy bread


THEIR DESIRABLE GIFT

Here's a child of Idumean night!
Naked, featherless, black, pale wing blooded Across glass washed in oils and golds And through icy panes, oh. Again ruined,
Sunrise threw herself on an angel-shaped lamp.
Palms. And when this strange artifact Sees the eye of some sneering father,
Solitude, blue and antiseptic, tremors.
Coddler, with your She and innocent cold feet,
Welcome something awe-inspiring, terrible.
Your voice's part viola, part harpsichord.
With some runty finger do you poke your instrument From which should flow, in sibylline whiteness,
She for whom the pure Azure starves?

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Azure"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Blake Bronson-Bartlett and Robert Fernandez.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

<P>Translators' Note<BR>POÉSIES [Edition Deman, 1899]<BR>Salut<BR>Hex<BR>Apparition<BR>Hopeless Plea<BR>This Worked-Over Clown<BR>Windows<BR>Flowers<BR>Renewal<BR>Anguish<BR>"Tired of my indolence&#8230;"<BR>The Bell Ringer<BR>Summertime Sadness<BR>The Azure<BR>Sea Breeze<BR>Sigh<BR>Alms<BR>Their Desirable Gift<BR>Hérodiade [scene]<BR>The Afternoon of a Faun [Eclogue]<BR>"Lock of hair&#8230;"<BR>Saint<BR>Funeral Toast<BR>Prose [for des Esseintes]<BR>Fan [for Mme. Mallarmé]<BR>Other Fan [of Mlle. Mallarmé]<BR>Scrap, as for an Album<BR>Remembrance of Belgian Friends<BR>Street Song I (The Shoemaker)<BR>Street Song II (Herb Vendor)<BR>Ticket<BR>Tune I ["So alones (choose)"]<BR>Tune II ["My drives"]<BR>Various Sonnets<BR>"When the shade&#8230;"<BR>"Vivacious, pretty hymen"<BR>"Suicide. Good death &#8230;"<BR>"Her pure nails&#8230;"<BR>Tomb of Edgar Poe<BR>Tomb of Charles Baudelaire<BR>Tomb (Anniversary—January 1897)<BR>Homage [Wagner]<BR>Homage [Puvis de Chavannes]<BR>"To you colonist&#8230;"<BR>I<BR>II<BR>III<BR>"What balm-of-time silk&#8230;"<BR>"Straight to your story&#8230;"<BR>"Red Fire Lozenge&#8230;"<BR>"Leaves Seal the Name&#8230;"<BR>A Cast of Dice<BR>From the "Livre"<BR>Acknowledgments</P>

What People are Saying About This

Donald Revell

“These vivid and utterly convincing translations reopen the poems to controversy, nuance, and innovation. They refresh the poet’s reputation as a sovereign enigma.”

Cole Swenson

“The best translation is a hundred translations, and Mallarmé, as one of the inaugural monsters of Modernism, needs at least that many even to begin to reveal his complexities. This new one is exceptionally welcome, as it is a poets’ Mallarmé, built of what earlier translators have left out. Bronson-Bartlett and Fernandez give particular freedom to Mallarmé’s radical music as well as to his essential strangeness. The inclusion of a sizable section of Mallarmé’s work-in-eternal-progress, the ‘Livre,’ never before translated into English, makes a substantial contribution to Mallarmé studies, as does their excellent introduction. Not only a must for Mallarmé enthusiasts, but also simply a grippingly great read!”

Cole Swensen

“The best translation is a hundred translations, and Mallarmé, as one of the inaugural monsters of Modernism, needs at least that many even to begin to reveal his complexities. This new one is exceptionally welcome, as it is a poets’ Mallarmé, built of what earlier translators have left out. Bronson-Bartlett and Fernandez give particular freedom to Mallarmé’s radical music as well as to his essential strangeness. The inclusion of a sizable section of Mallarmé’s work-in-eternal-progress, the ‘Livre,’ never before translated into English, makes a substantial contribution to Mallarmé studies, as does their excellent introduction. Not only a must for Mallarmé enthusiasts, but also simply a grippingly great read!”

Peter Gizzi

“Azure collects previously untranslated and high-octane versions of well-known poems from Mr. Mallarmé's killer oeuvre. In the tradition of Pound's Homage to Sextus Propertius, these trans-vers add a spiritedness and contemporariness to one of our most contemporary of poets. Messieurs Bronson-Bartlett and Fernandez have done heavy lifting with their introduction and for the future of Mallarmé studies.”

From the Publisher

"These vivid and utterly convincing translations reopen the poems to controversy, nuance, and innovation. They refresh the poet's reputation as a sovereign enigma."—Donald Revell, author of Tantivy

"The best translation is a hundred translations, and Mallarmé, as one of the inaugural monsters of Modernism, needs at least that many even to begin to reveal his complexities. This new one is exceptionally welcome, as it is a poets' Mallarmé, built of what earlier translators have left out. Bronson-Bartlett and Fernandez give particular freedom to Mallarmé's radical music as well as to his essential strangeness. The inclusion of a sizable section of Mallarmé's work-in-eternal-progress, the 'Livre,' never before translated into English, makes a substantial contribution to Mallarmé studies, as does their excellent introduction. Not only a must for Mallarmé enthusiasts, but also simply a grippingly great read!"—Cole Swensen

"Azure collects previously untranslated and high-octane versions of well-known poems from Mr. Mallarmé's killer oeuvre. In the tradition of Pound's Homage to Sextus Propertius, these trans-vers add a spiritedness and contemporariness to one of our most contemporary of poets. Messieurs Bronson-Bartlett and Fernandez have done heavy lifting with their introduction and for the future of Mallarmé studies."—Peter Gizzi

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