Sunday, January 8, 2012


for Stephane Mallarmé

That just a boy—
Could extend the hope
Of mature poetry into his
Night of unique adventure

That a boy so early—
Impetuously hit by the
Wings of literature could
See the history of the mind

That merely a boy—
With barely time to exist
Could exhaust the stormy
Fatalities so masterfully

Supposing without recourse—
We were denied these otherwise
Strong, insightful, haunting
Manuscripts of a mere youth?

A mere chicken vagabond—
Aided by the fruit fairy Verlaine
Tasting the old glory of those
Left behind at some oasis

Why did we disown him—
This boy picked by fate to
Perform his role without any
Vacillating or confusion?

Arriving late he established—
Among our dying & diverse
Voices a silence that was like
A wall or a hospital curtain

We defended ourselves—
Looking with envy at the
Way he’d grown up turning
Language to new meanings

New utterly native speaking—
A well-earned hardness with his
Own beauty without compromise,
In fact, proudly omitting nothing

Deepening the possibility—
That in our vain search for urban
Indifference and lofty careers
We were overcome by celebrity

It had to be someone like him—
Who no longer wanted our way
To impersonally drive us all out
Of Paris with his casualness

That some impetuous boy—
With masterful stormy poetry
Could disown us all as if we were
Nothing but a bunch of pickpockets?

Even now his manuscripts—
Are copyrighted in the future
Still waiting for us to catch up
With this adolescent genius

—Letter from Stephane Mallarmé
to Harrison Rhodes, April 1896

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