Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Peter Manson, "Sigh," "The Flowers," & "Saint"

Peter Manson

translations from Mallarmé


My soul, calm sister, climbs towards your brow
where a freckled autumn dreams,
towards the vagrant sky of your angelic eye
as, faithful in a melancholic garden,
a jet of white water sighs towards the Blue!
towards October’s tender, pure, pale Blue
that mirrors infinite languor in great pools
and allows, on dead water where lion-coloured leaves
vagrant in wind dig their own cold furrow,
the yellow sun to prolong itself in a ray.

The Flowers

On the first day, long ago, you broke
off from the golden landslides of old azure
and from the eternal snow of stars, great calices
for the still young earth, a virgin of disasters,

fauve gladiolus, with the thin-necked swans,
and the divine laurel of exiled souls
vermilion as the pure toe of the seraphim
flushed with the modesty of walked-on dawns,

the hyacinth, the lovely, glinting myrtle
and, like a woman’s flesh, the cruel
rose, Hérodiade flower of the bright garden,
watered by a wild and radiant blood!

You made the sobbing whiteness of the lily
that, brushing on the rolling sea of sighs,
through the blue incense of the pale horizon
dreamily rises towards the weeping moon!

Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,
Our Lady, hosanna of the garden and our limbo!
Ending the echo through celestial evenings,
ecstatic glances, scintillating haloes!

O Mother who created in your strong, just breast
calices weighing the future phial
of giant flowers against balsamic Death
for the tired poet whom life etiolates.


Concealing at the window-pane
the old, ungilding sandalwood
of her viol that once
sparkled with flute or mandola

is the pale saint displaying
the old, unfolding book
of the Magnificat that once
streamed into Vespers and Compline:

at this monstrance window
brushed by a harp the Angel
made from its evening flight
for the delicate phalanx

of the finger that, without sandalwood
or the old book, she posits
on the instrumental plumage,
musician of the silence.

Peter Manson lives in Glasgow, Scotland. His books include For the Good of Liars (Barque Press), Adjunct: an Undigest (Edinburgh Review), and Before and After Mallarmé (Survivors’ Press). His website, Freebase Accordion, is at

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