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HÉRODIADE

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The Database of Ornament

                                         HÉRODIADE
                        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,
                        I die!

                                        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 !

                                           NURSE.
                        O lady, would you die then ?

                                           HÉRODIADE
                                                                        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 !
                                                                        Yet, miles
                        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
                        Childishness ?

                                          NURSE.
                                    Now ?

                                         HÉRODIADE
                                            Farewell.
                                                                        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.

                                                                                       ARTHUR SYMONS.


MLA citation:

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/