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Paul Verlaine

(1844-1896 / France)

Epilogue


I
The sun, less hot, looks from a sky more clear;
The roses in their sleepy loveliness
Nod to the cradling wind. The atmosphere
Enfolds us with a sister's tenderness.

For once hath Nature left the splendid throne
Of her indifference, and through the mild
Sun-gilded air of Autumn, clement grown,
Descends to man, her proud, revolted child.

She takes, to wipe the tears upon our face,
Her azure mantle sown with many a star;
And her eternal soul, her deathless grace,
Strengthen and calm the weak heart that we are.

The waving of the boughs, the lengthened line
Of the horizon, full of dreamy hues
And scattered songs, all,--sing it, sail, or shine!--
To-day consoles, delivers!--Let us muse.


II
So, then this book is closed. Dear Fancies mine,
That streaked my grey sky with your wings of light,
And passing fanned my burning brow, benign,--
Return, return to your blue Infinite!

Thou, ringing Rhyme, thou, Verse that smooth didst glide,
Ye, throbbing Rhythms, ye, musical Refrains,
And Memories, and Dreams, and ye beside
Fair Figures called to life with anxious pains,

We needs must part. Until the happier day
When Art, our Lord, his thralls shall re-unite,
Companions sweet, Farewell and Wellaway,
Fly home, ye may, to your blue Infinite!

And true it is, we spared not breath or force,
And our good pleasure, like foaming steed
Blind with the madness of his earliest course,
Of rest within the quiet shade hath need.

--For always have we held thee, Poesy,
To be our Goddess, mighty and august,
Our only passion,--Mother calling thee,
And holding Inspiration in mistrust.

III
Ah, Inspiration, splendid, dominant,
Egeria with the lightsome eyes profound,
Sudden Erato, Genius quick to grant,
Old picture Angel of the gilt background,

Muse,--ay, whose voice is powerful indeed,
Since in the first come brain it makes to grow
Thick as some dusty yellow roadside weed,
A gardenful of poems none did sow,--

Dove, Holy Ghost, Delirium, Sacred Fire,
Transporting Passion,--seasonable queen!--
Gabriel and lute, Latona's son and lyre,--
Ah, Inspiration, summoned at sixteen!

What we have need of, we, the Poets True,
That not believe in Gods, and yet revere,
That have no halo, hold no golden clue,
For whom no Beatrix leaves her radiant sphere,

We, that do chisel words like chalices,
And moving verses shape with unmoved mind,
Whom wandering in groups by evening seas,
In musical converse ye scarce shall find,--

What we need is, in midnight hours dim-lit,
Sleep daunted, knowledge earned,--more knowledge still!
Is Faust's brow, of the wood-cuts, sternly knit,
Is stubborn Perseverance, and is Will!

Is Will eternal, holy, absolute,
That grasps--as doth a noble bird of prey
The steaming flanks of the foredoomed brute,--
Its project, and with it,--skyward, away!

What we need, we, is fixedness intense,
Unequalled effort, strife that shall not cease,
Is night, the bitter night of labor, whence
Arises, sun-like, slow, the Master-piece!

Let our Inspired, hearts by an eye-shot tined,
Sway with the birch-tree to all winds that blow,
Poor things! Art knows not the divided mind--
Speak, Milo's Venus, is she stone or no?

We therefore, carve we with the chisel Thought
The pure block of the Beautiful, and gain
From out the marble cold where it was not,
Some starry-chitoned statue without stain,

That one far day, Posterity, new Morn,
Enkindling with a golden-rosy flame
Our Work, new Memnon, shall to ears unborn
Make quiver in the singing air our name!

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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