The Database of Ornament
TO mine own self I am a wilderness.
You know it, amethyst gardens numberless
Enfolded in the flaming, subtle deep,
Strange gold, that through the red earth’s heavy sleep
Has cherished ancient brightness like a dream,
Stones whence mine eyes, pure jewels, have their gleam
Of icy and melodious radiance, you,
Metals, which into my young tresses drew
A fatal splendour and their manifold grace !
Thou, woman, born into these evil days
Disastrous to the cavern sibylline,
Who speakest, prophesying not of one divine,
But of a mortal, if from that close sheath,
My robes, rustle the wild enchanted breath
In the white quiver of my nakedness,
If the warm air of summer, O prophetess,
(And woman’s body obeys that ancient claim)
Behold me in my shivering starry shame,
The horror of my virginity
Delights me, and I would envelope me
In the terror of my tresses, that, by night,
Inviolate reptile, I might feel the white
And glimmering radiance of thy frozen fire,
Thou that art chaste and diest of desire,
White night of ice and of the cruel snow !
Eternal sister, thy lone sister, lo
My dreams uplifted before thee ! now, apart
68 THE SAVOY
So rare a crystal is my dreaming heart
I live in a monotonous land alone,
And all about me lives but in mine own
Image, the idolatrous mirror of my pride,
Mirrowing this Hérodiade diamond-eyed.
I am indeed alone, O charm and curse !
O lady, would you die then ?
No, poor nurse.
Be calm, and leave me ; prithee, pardon me,
But, ere thou go, close to the casement ; see
How the seraphical blue in the dim glass smiles,
But I abhor the blue of the sky !
On miles of rocking waves ! Know’st not a land
Where, in the pestilent sky, men see the hand
Of Venus, and her shadow in dark leaves ?
Thither I go.
Light thou the wax that grieves
In the swift flame, and sheds an alien tear
Over the vain gold ; wilt not say in mere
You lie, O flower
Of these chill lips !
I wait the unknown hour,
Or, deaf to your crying and that hour supreme,
Utter the lamentation of the dream
Of childhood seeing fall apart in sighs
The icy chaplet of its reveries.
Mallarmé, Stéphane. “Hérodiade.” Translated by Arthur Symons. The Savoy vol. 8, December 1896, pp. 67-68. Savoy Digital Edition, edited by Christopher Keep and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/savoyv8-symons-herodiade/