One of the most influential French poets of the nineteenth century.. French poet essayist art critic and translator
When, by decree of the supreme power,
The Poet appears in this annoyed world,
His mother, blasphemous out of horror
At God's pity, cries out with fists curled:
"Ah! I'd rather You'd will me a snake's skin
Than to keep feeding this monstrous slur!
I curse that night's ephemera are sins
To make my womb atone for pleasure.
"Since You have chosen me from all the brides
To bear the disgust of my dolorous groom
And since I can't throw back into the fires
Like an old love letter this gaunt buffoon
"I'll replace Your hate that overwhelms me
On the instrument of Your wicked gloom
And torture so well this miserable tree
Its pestiferous buds will never bloom!"
She chokes down the eucharist of venom,
Not comprehending eternal designs,
She prepares a Gehenna of her own,
And consecrates a pyre of maternal crimes.
Yet, watched by an invisible seraph,
The disinherited child is drunk on the sun
And in all he devours and in all he quaffs
Receives ambrosia, nectar and honey.
He plays with the wind, chats with the vapors,
Deliriously sings the stations of the cross;
And the Spirit who follows him in his capers
Cries at his joy like a bird in the forest.
Those whom he longs to love look with disdain
And dread, strengthened by his tranquillity,
They seek to make him complain of his pain
So they may try out their ferocity.
In the bread and wine destined for his lips,
They mix in cinders and spit with their wrath,
And throw out all he touches as he grasps it,
And accuse him of putting his feet in their path.
His wife cries out so that everyone hears:
"Since he finds me good enough to adore
I'll weave as the idols of ancient years
A corona of gold as a cover.
"I'll get drunk on nard, incense and myrrh,
Get down on bent knee with meats and wines
To see if in a heart that admires,
My smile denies deference to the divine.
"And, when I tire of these impious farces,
I'll arrange for him my frail and hard nails
Sharpened just like the claws of a harpy
That out of his heart will carve a trail.
"Like a baby bird trembling in the nest
I'll dig out his heart all red from my breast
To slake the thirst of my favorite pet,
And will throw it on the ground with contempt!"
Toward the sky, where he sees a great host,
The poet, serene, lifts his pious arms high
And the vast lightning of his lucid ghost
Blinds him to the furious people nearby:
"Glory to God, who leaves us to suffer
To cure us of all our impurities
And like the best, most rarefied buffer
Prepares the strong for a saint's ecstasies!
"I know that You hold a place for the Poet
In the ranks of the blessed and the saint's legions,
That You invite him to an eternal fete
Of thrones, of virtues, of dominations.
"I know only sorrow is unequaled,
It cannot be encroached on from Hell or Earth
And if I am to braid my mystic wreath,
May I impose it on the universe.
"But the ancient jewels of lost Palmyra,
The unknown metals, pearls from the ocean
By Your hand mounted, they do not suffice,
They cannot dazzle as clearly as this crown
"For it will not be made except from halos
Drawn of pure light in a holy portal
Whose entire splendor, in the eyes of mortals
Is only a mirror, obscure and mournful."