Of Shadow and Marble
Je Suis Fait d'Ombre et de Marbre
by Victor Hugo
I am made of marble and shadow.
Like the black feet of the tree
I plunge into the night.
Underground, I listen.
I cry to the thunder. Stop!
Make no noise!
I, who am called poet,
am the stairway of mystery
in the soundless night,
the stairway of Dark
in whose funereal spirals
shadows open their vague eyes.
Torches transform to holy tapers.
Respect my virgin steps,
pass on, you cheery people of the day.
These stairs were not made for
the winged feet of festivity
or naked feet of love.
Before my ghastly depths
even phantoms pour sweat.
I originate in the lifeless tomb
and I end at this door
traversed by a slim light.
How pleasantly the banquet glows.
The masters are joyful
seated on their bloody throne—
everyone serves, everyone flatters them.
Under their power a woman measures
Never mind the bolt and key.
I am the stairway, the sorrow slandered.
My hour will come!
Surrounded by shadows
someone will mount my somber stairs
and someone will descend.
Slipping through Time
by Marina Tsvetaeva
Perhaps the finest victory
over time and gravity
is to pass without leaving a trace,
casting not even a shadow on the wall.
Perhaps it's best to renounce it all,
erase your image from the mirror
and steal by like Lermontov in the Caucasus
without upsetting the stones.
Maybe it would be more entertaining
had Bach's finger never prodded the organ's echo
Maybe if you simply dissolved
and left no ashes for the urn.
If you lied your way out
and were expunged from the latitudes
slipping through time like an ocean
whose waters were never disturbed.
Time, the Old Hag
Time unrolls her glorious tongue.
Time chews this body and swallows it whole.
Time the fire of creation,
Time great daughter of the void,
Time with her fool's yardstick,
Time with her girlish giggle,
Time so old she creaks,
Time steps forward with her cruel reminder.
Time with a mean tick,
Time a slap in the face,
Time gracefully rotates her golden hands.
Time snuggles up crooning sugar lullabies,
Time joins hands with the trees and goes begging,
Time devotes herself endlessly to nothing,
Time strolls the leaf-strewn cemetery.
Time wears a million diaphanous veils.
Time lies down for a nap.
Time with no name, a joke, a fantasy, a dream,
Time is loneliness. Time is divorce,
Time runs out of breath,
Time punctual to a fault,
Time the weary sphinx.
Time with the shallow friends,
Time the lover you can never have,
Time the big eraser,
Time keeps changing her mind.
Time takes this body and that indiscriminately.
Time knows all about life.
Time is growing tired of birth.
Time honks and roars and crows and screeches.
Who is she anyway? What does she want?
At Her Feet
Are you waked in Her dark?
Are you bowed in Her light?
Are you flayed in Her gaze?
Are you swamped in Her scent?
Are you drunk in Her sea?
Are you trued in Her beam?
Are you breached in Her cry?
Are you freed in Her storm?
Are you braced in Her dance?
Are you lapped in Her love?
Are you laved in Her flame?
Are you stewed in Her peace?
Are you poised in Her joy?
Are you fired in Her grace?
Dear Life, oh dearest
come with me
wherever I go,
even when I drop
this fading body, come
oh beautiful Life, and keep on
coming, flowing, passing,
dreaming fearless, loving, wanting,
sweet Life, with your magic
dance of miracles
and juggling balls of light,
your supreme womanly form
laughing down the cosmos,
your myriad jokes and jewels and truths,
your pure happy Self
that ensouls the universe.
Come, my Love, and always be