"The Tomb of Baudelaire" and "The Point"

"The Tomb of Baudelaire" by Mallarmé

an incompetent translation

Listen, Svengali, all the museums
are on fire and the Abbé Farouche
has asked me to tell you this: who
polishes the aberrant enshrines it.

So here's the plan: write an essay
on masculinity. Make it puerile and
opprobrious, but do not let it reverberate.
Fashion it of the loosest most recent mesh.

How sketchy are cities without futility!
The votive truth may resonate but what
about the vain marble of salty Beau de'Lair?

O, Popery! El Hombre has left us deficient
as a frozen shadow, as the staunch tutor who,
poisoned, resuscitates but refuses to revive.

Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire
by Stéphane Mallarmé

Le temple enseveli divulgue par la bouche
Sépulcrale d'égout bavant boure et rubis
Abominablement quelque idole Anubis
Tout le museau falmbé comme un aboi farouche

Ou que le gaz récent torde la mèche louche
Essuyeuse on le sait des opprobres subis
Il allume hagard un immortel pubis
Dont le vol selon le réverbère découche

Quel feuillage séché dans les cités sans soir
Votif pourra bénir comme elle rasseoir
Contre le marbre vainement de Baudelaire

Au voile qui la ceint absente avec frissons
Celle son Ombre même un poison tutélaire
Toujours à respirer si nous en périssons

 


 

The Point

for A, B, and C

I stood on the Point and rooted for the truth.
Everywhere were starfish angels, each one in my way.
The sun, like a drunken bum, stumbled across the sky.

          If you're not any more interesting sloshed
          than you are sober
          then what's the point?

My model was late for her sitting. "You're like a library book—overdue!" I said,
"Then I'll take off all my clothes like I did for you last time," she said,
"and then I'll be re-nude."

          If you're not any more interesting frizzled
          than you are frozen
          then what's the point?

"What's nubile with you, my dear?" I asked.
"That's highly salacious, you know" she said.
"Wasn't he the King of Ethiopia?" I queried.

          If you're not any more interesting moist
          than you are torrid
          then what's the point?

"You're a piece of hot pie," I said,
"crusty with the sweet and creamy center."
"But they'll be no massacre of the General Custard this time," said she. 

          If you're not any more interesting polluted
          than you are pristine
          then what's the point?

I stood on The Point and looked out at the sea
and imagined I saw a pod of yellow whales, but that
was just the sun pissing twilight into the distant foam.

 

 

Bill Yarrow

Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks, most recently We All Saw It Coming. He has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize. Against Prompts, his fourth full-length collection, is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press in 2018. 

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, January 29, 2018 - 21:56