I

Clear water, like the salt of childhood tears:
The white of women's bodies opened in the sun,
And truth, beyond walls or the silk oriflammes, won
Out with the valour of a maid pure in her years.

The frolic of angels in their moving blaze of gold,
Imponderable arms sparkling with the coolness of the grass,
Having the blues of Heaven as the sky's bed to pass
Under the canopy of shade into the arch and hill's fold.

II

The stones, under the water, extend as in a clear broth,
And depths, freckled in prepared beds of pale gold,
And frocks of girls are there, faded, green as mould,
And willows, and unhampered birds, in the day's cloth.

Round as the eyelid, with the warmth of a gold louis,
Jets the marsh marigold, fresh in its wedding vows.
The mirror at prompt noon, jealous of the day's drowse
Tarnishes into a sphere, heat-flecked but dear to us.

III

Too upright is Madam in the meadow's prairie scene.
The sons of toil are in the cotton-fields, settled as white cloud.
In her fingers she twirls her parasol, tramples it, too proud
To watch her children reading in the flowering green,


Their books in red morocco. Of what they think or dream —
As on all paths a thousand angels flare upon the day —
Of hopes lost in high mountains, she cannot follow; her way
Is glistening dark and cold, as is the shadowed stream.

IV

Regret of arms satiated and celibate,
Beds as those of saints on moonlit April nights,
And the tear-wet joy falling on abandoned river sites,
And the rotting evenings in August that these germinate.

Under walls let her weep now: the winds possess
Only the high poplars, tremulously blown.
Underneath in lead, unglinting, weighed in stone,
An old dredger labours, the small boat motionless.

V

Flotsam, plaything of these waters that nothing hinders,
In my boarding of this still boat, O arms too short!
Not this flower or that, which is yellow, however sought,
Or the blue one, friends, in waters grey as cinders.

Ah, for the powder of the willows, the plume of blood
In wings, roses from the reeds dragged from time's jaws!
The boat does not move although the chain draws
On through a water-logged eye, without banks, to mud!

 

Mémoire by Arthur Rimbaud

 

Now collected in a free ebook published by Ocaso Press.