Category: Poems I like

Nov 01

The Graveyard By The Sea

Le cimetière marin

Paul Valéry

Ce toit tranquille, où marchent des colombes,
Entre les pins palpite, entre les tombes;
Midi le juste y compose de feux
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencee
O récompense après une pensée
Qu’un long regard sur le calme des dieux!Quel pur travail de fins éclairs consume
Maint diamant d’imperceptible écume,
Et quelle paix semble se concevoir!
Quand sur l’abîme un soleil se repose,
Ouvrages purs d’une éternelle cause,
Le temps scintille et le songe est savoir.

Stable trésor, temple simple à Minerve,
Masse de calme, et visible réserve,
Eau sourcilleuse, Oeil qui gardes en toi
Tant de sommeil sous une voile de flamme,
O mon silence! . . . Édifice dans l’ame,
Mais comble d’or aux mille tuiles, Toit!

Temple du Temps, qu’un seul soupir résume,
À ce point pur je monte et m’accoutume,
Tout entouré de mon regard marin;
Et comme aux dieux mon offrande suprême,
La scintillation sereine sème
Sur l’altitude un dédain souverain.

Comme le fruit se fond en jouissance,
Comme en délice il change son absence
Dans une bouche où sa forme se meurt,
Je hume ici ma future fumée,
Et le ciel chante à l’âme consumée
Le changement des rives en rumeur.

Beau ciel, vrai ciel, regarde-moi qui change!
Après tant d’orgueil, après tant d’étrange
Oisiveté, mais pleine de pouvoir,
Je m’abandonne à ce brillant espace,
Sur les maisons des morts mon ombre passe
Qui m’apprivoise à son frêle mouvoir.

L’âme exposée aux torches du solstice,
Je te soutiens, admirable justice
De la lumière aux armes sans pitié!
Je te tends pure à ta place première,
Regarde-toi! . . . Mais rendre la lumière
Suppose d’ombre une morne moitié.

O pour moi seul, à moi seul, en moi-même,
Auprès d’un coeur, aux sources du poème,
Entre le vide et l’événement pur,
J’attends l’écho de ma grandeur interne,
Amère, sombre, et sonore citerne,
Sonnant dans l’âme un creux toujours futur!

Sais-tu, fausse captive des feuillages,
Golfe mangeur de ces maigres grillages,
Sur mes yeux clos, secrets éblouissants,
Quel corps me traîne à sa fin paresseuse,
Quel front l’attire à cette terre osseuse?
Une étincelle y pense à mes absents.

Fermé, sacré, plein d’un feu sans matière,
Fragment terrestre offert à la lumière,
Ce lieu me plaît, dominé de flambeaux,
Composé d’or, de pierre et d’arbres sombres,
Où tant de marbre est tremblant sur tant d’ombres;
La mer fidèle y dort sur mes tombeaux!

Chienne splendide, écarte l’idolâtre!
Quand solitaire au sourire de pâtre,
Je pais longtemps, moutons mystérieux,
Le blanc troupeau de mes tranquilles tombes,
Éloignes-en les prudentes colombes,
Les songes vains, les anges curieux!

Ici venu, l’avenir est paresse.
L’insecte net gratte la sécheresse;
Tout est brûlé, défait, reçu dans l’air
A je ne sais quelle sévère essence . . .
La vie est vaste, étant ivre d’absence,
Et l’amertume est douce, et l’esprit clair.

Les morts cachés sont bien dans cette terre
Qui les réchauffe et sèche leur mystère.
Midi là-haut, Midi sans mouvement
En soi se pense et convient à soi-même
Tête complète et parfait diadème,
Je suis en toi le secret changement.

Tu n’as que moi pour contenir tes craintes!
Mes repentirs, mes doutes, mes contraintes
Sont le défaut de ton grand diamant! . . .
Mais dans leur nuit toute lourde de marbres,
Un peuple vague aux racines des arbres
A pris déjà ton parti lentement.

Ils ont fondu dans une absence épaisse,
L’argile rouge a bu la blanche espèce,
Le don de vivre a passé dans les fleurs!
Où sont des morts les phrases familières,
L’art personnel, les âmes singulières?
La larve file où se formaient les pleurs.

Les cris aigus des filles chatouillées,
Les yeux, les dents, les paupières mouillées,
Le sein charmant qui joue avec le feu,
Le sang qui brille aux lèvres qui se rendent,
Les derniers dons, les doigts qui les défendent,
Tout va sous terre et rentre dans le jeu!

Et vous, grande âme, espérez-vous un songe
Qui n’aura plus ces couleurs de mensonge
Qu’aux yeux de chair l’onde et l’or font ici?
Chanterez-vous quand serez vaporeuse?
Allez! Tout fuit! Ma présence est poreuse,
La sainte impatience meurt aussi!

Maigre immortalité noire et dorée,
Consolatrice affreusement laurée,
Qui de la mort fais un sein maternel,
Le beau mensonge et la pieuse ruse!
Qui ne connaît, et qui ne les refuse,
Ce crâne vide et ce rire éternel!

Pères profonds, têtes inhabitées,
Qui sous le poids de tant de pelletées,
Êtes la terre et confondez nos pas,
Le vrai rongeur, le ver irréfutable
N’est point pour vous qui dormez sous la table,
Il vit de vie, il ne me quitte pas!

Amour, peut-être, ou de moi-même haine?
Sa dent secrète est de moi si prochaine
Que tous les noms lui peuvent convenir!
Qu’importe! Il voit, il veut, il songe, il touche!
Ma chair lui plaît, et jusque sur ma couche,
À ce vivant je vis d’appartenir!

Zénon! Cruel Zénon! Zénon d’Êlée!
M’as-tu percé de cette flèche ailée
Qui vibre, vole, et qui ne vole pas!
Le son m’enfante et la flèche me tue!
Ah! le soleil . . . Quelle ombre de tortue
Pour l’âme, Achille immobile à grands pas!

Non, non! . . . Debout! Dans l’ère successive!
Brisez, mon corps, cette forme pensive!
Buvez, mon sein, la naissance du vent!
Une fraîcheur, de la mer exhalée,
Me rend mon âme . . . O puissance salée!
Courons à l’onde en rejaillir vivant.

Oui! grande mer de delires douée,
Peau de panthère et chlamyde trouée,
De mille et mille idoles du soleil,
Hydre absolue, ivre de ta chair bleue,
Qui te remords l’étincelante queue
Dans un tumulte au silence pareil

Le vent se lève! . . . il faut tenter de vivre!
L’air immense ouvre et referme mon livre,
La vague en poudre ose jaillir des rocs!
Envolez-vous, pages tout éblouies!
Rompez, vagues! Rompez d’eaux rejouies
Ce toit tranquille où picoraient des focs!


The Graveyard By The Sea

Translated by C. Day Lewis

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame –
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!What grace of light, what pure toil goes to form
The manifold diamond of the elusive foam!
What peace I feel begotten at that source!
When sunlight rests upon a profound sea,
Time’s air is sparkling, dream is certainty –
Pure artifice both of an eternal Cause.

Sure treasure, simple shrine to intelligence,
Palpable calm, visible reticence,
Proud-lidded water, Eye wherein there wells
Under a film of fire such depth of sleep –
O silence! . . . Mansion in my soul, you slope
Of gold, roof of a myriad golden tiles.

Temple of time, within a brief sigh bounded,
To this rare height inured I climb, surrounded
By the horizons of a sea-girt eye.
And, like my supreme offering to the gods,
That peaceful coruscation only breeds
A loftier indifference on the sky.

Even as a fruit’s absorbed in the enjoying,
Even as within the mouth its body dying
Changes into delight through dissolution,
So to my melted soul the heavens declare
All bounds transfigured into a boundless air,
And I breathe now my future’s emanation.

Beautiful heaven, true heaven, look how I change!
After such arrogance, after so much strange
Idleness — strange, yet full of potency –
I am all open to these shining spaces;
Over the homes of the dead my shadow passes,
Ghosting along — a ghost subduing me.

My soul laid bare to your midsummer fire,
O just, impartial light whom I admire,
Whose arms are merciless, you have I stayed
And give back, pure, to your original place.
Look at yourself . . . But to give light implies
No less a somber moiety of shade.

Oh, for myself alone, mine, deep within
At the heart’s quick, the poem’s fount, between
The void and its pure issue, I beseech
The intimations of my secret power.
O bitter, dark, and echoing reservoir
Speaking of depths always beyond my reach.

But know you — feigning prisoner of the boughs,
Gulf which cats up their slender prison-bars,
Secret which dazzles though mine eyes are closed –
What body drags me to its lingering end,
What mind draws it to this bone-peopled ground?
A star broods there on all that I have lost.

Closed, hallowed, full of insubstantial fire,
Morsel of earth to heaven’s light given o’er –
This plot, ruled by its flambeaux, pleases me –
A place all gold, stone, and dark wood, where shudders
So much marble above so many shadows:
And on my tombs, asleep, the faithful sea.

Keep off the idolaters, bright watch-dog, while –
A solitary with the shepherd’s smile –
I pasture long my sheep, my mysteries,
My snow-white flock of undisturbed graves!
Drive far away from here the careful doves,
The vain daydreams, the angels’ questioning eyes!

Now present here, the future takes its time.
The brittle insect scrapes at the dry loam;
All is burnt up, used up, drawn up in air
To some ineffably rarefied solution . . .
Life is enlarged, drunk with annihilation,
And bitterness is sweet, and the spirit clear.

The dead lie easy, hidden in earth where they
Are warmed and have their mysteries burnt away.
Motionless noon, noon aloft in the blue
Broods on itself — a self-sufficient theme.
O rounded dome and perfect diadem,
I am what’s changing secretly in you.

I am the only medium for your fears.
My penitence, my doubts, my baulked desires –
These are the flaw within your diamond pride . . .
But in their heavy night, cumbered with marble,
Under the roots of trees a shadow people
Has slowly now come over to your side.

To an impervious nothingness they’re thinned,
For the red clay has swallowed the white kind;
Into the flowers that gift of life has passed.
Where are the dead? — their homely turns of speech,
The personal grace, the soul informing each?
Grubs thread their way where tears were once composed.

The bird-sharp cries of girls whom love is teasing,
The eyes, the teeth, the eyelids moistly closing,
The pretty breast that gambles with the flame,
The crimson blood shining when lips are yielded,
The last gift, and the fingers that would shield it –
All go to earth, go back into the game.

And you, great soul, is there yet hope in you
To find some dream without the lying hue
That gold or wave offers to fleshly eyes?
Will you be singing still when you’re thin air?
All perishes. A thing of flesh and pore
Am I. Divine impatience also dies.

Lean immortality, all crêpe and gold,
Laurelled consoler frightening to behold,
Death is a womb, a mother’s breast, you feign
The fine illusion, oh the pious trick!
Who does not know them, and is not made sick
That empty skull, that everlasting grin?

Ancestors deep down there, O derelict heads
Whom such a weight of spaded earth o’erspreads,
Who are the earth, in whom our steps are lost,
The real flesh-eater, worm unanswerable
Is not for you that sleep under the table:
Life is his meat, and I am still his host.

‘Love,’ shall we call him? ‘Hatred of self,’ maybe?
His secret tooth is so intimate with me
That any name would suit him well enough,
Enough that he can see, will, daydream, touch –
My flesh delights him, even upon my couch
I live but as a morsel of his life.

Zeno, Zeno, cruel philosopher Zeno,
Have you then pierced me with your feathered arrow
That hums and flies, yet does not fly! The sounding
Shaft gives me life, the arrow kills. Oh, sun! –
Oh, what a tortoise-shadow to outrun
My soul, Achilles’ giant stride left standing!

No, no! Arise! The future years unfold.
Shatter, O body, meditation’s mould!
And, O my breast, drink in the wind’s reviving!
A freshness, exhalation of the sea,
Restores my soul . . . Salt-breathing potency!
Let’s run at the waves and be hurled back to living!

Yes, mighty sea with such wild frenzies gifted
(The panther skin and the rent chlamys), sifted
All over with sun-images that glisten,
Creature supreme, drunk on your own blue flesh,
Who in a tumult like the deepest hush
Bite at your sequin-glittering tail — yes, listen!

The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.

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Nov 01

The Lake

The Lake

By Alphonse de Lamartine
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

In 1816, at Aix-les Bains near Lake Bourget, Lamartine made the acquaintance of one Julie Charles. The following year, he came back to the lake, expecting to meet her there again. But he waited in vain, and initially thought she had stood him up. A month later he learned that she had taken ill and died. The “she” in this semi-autobiographical poem refers to Julie. The “voice I adore” which speaks the lines of stanzas 6-9 is also meant to be understood as Julie’s voice.

Thus driven forth forever to new shores,
Born toward Eternal Night and never away,
Sailing the Sea of Ages, can we not
Drop anchor for one day?

O Lake! The year has scarcely spun its course.
Now, by the waves she meant to see again,
Watch how I sit, alone, upon this stone
On which you saw her then.

You lowed as now below those plunging cliffs.
As now, you broke about their riven flanks.
As now, the wind flung your foam forth to wash
Her feet which graced your banks.

One evening we two roamed -remember?- in silence:
On waves and under heaven, far and wide,
No sound came save the cadence of the oarsmen
Stroking your tuneful tide.

Then sudden tones, unfathomed on this earth,
Resounded round the echoing, spellbound shore.
The tide turned heedful; and I heard these words
From the voice I adore:

Suspend your trek O Time! Suspend your flights
O favoring hours, and stay!
Let us pause, savoring the quick delights
That fill the dearest day.

Unhappy crowds cry out to you in prayers.
Flow, Time, and set them free.
Run through their days and through their ravening cares!
But leave the happy be.

In vain I ask for hours to linger on
And Time slips into flight.
I tell this night: “Be slower!” and the dawn
Undoes the raveled night.

Let’s love, then! Love, and feel while feel we can
The moment on its run.
There is no shore of Time, no port of Man.
It flows, and we go on.

Covetous Time! Our mighty drunken moments
When love pours forth huge floods of happiness;
Can it be that they fly from us no faster
Than days of wretchedness?

Why can’t we keep some trace of them, at least?
Why lost forever? Why beyond recall?
Will Time that gave them, Time that now destroys them
Not bring them back at all?

Eternity, naught, past, dark gulfs: what do
You do with days of ours which you devour?
Speak! Will you not bring back those sublime things?
Return the raptured hour?

O Lake! Caves! Speechless ledges! Gloaming glades!
You whom Time shields or can bring back to light,
Beautiful Nature, keep the memory-
The memory of that night:

Memory in your stillness and your storms,
Fair Lake, in your cavorting sloping sides,
In the black firtrees, in the savage rocks
Rising above your tides;

Memory in the breathings of the zephyr,
In shore whose sounds resound to shore each night,
And in the silver visage of the star
Touching you with soft light.

Let the bewailing winds and sighing reeds,
Let the light balm you blow through cliff and grove,
Let all that man can hear, behold or breathe
All say: “They were in love.”

The Original:

Le Lac
Alphonse de Lamartine

En 1816, à Aix-les-Bains, près du lac du Bourget, Lamartine fit la connaissance de Julie Charles. L’année suivante il revint au paysage qui avait été témoin de leur bonheur, mais seul, cette fois, contre son attente. Il pensa d’abord qu’elle lui avait posé un lapin, mais apprit un mois plus tard qu’elle était tombée malade et puis mourut. Le pronom féminin dans ce poème partiellement autobiographique fait référence à ladite Julie. D’ailleurs, la “voix qui m’est chère” est celle de Julie, interlocutrice des strophes 6-9.

Ainsi toujours poussés vers de nouveaux rivages,
Dans la nuit éternelle emportés sans retour,
Ne pourrons-nous jamais sur l’océan des âges
Jeter l’ancre un seul jour?

O lac! l’année à peine a fini sa carrière,
Et près des flots chéris qu’elle devait revoir
Regarde! je viens seul m’asseoir sur cette pierre
Où tu la vis s’asseoir!

Tu mugissais ainsi sous ces roches profondes;
Ainsi tu te brisais sur leurs flancs déchirés:
Ainsi le vent jetait l’écume de tes ondes
Sur ses pieds adorés.

Un soir, t’en souvient-il? nous voguions en silence;
On n’entendait au loin, sur l’onde et sous les cieux,
Que le bruit des rameurs qui frappaient en cadence
Tes flots harmonieux.

Tout à coup des accents inconnus à la terre
Du rivage charmé frappèrent les échos;
Le flot fut attentif, et la voix qui m’est chère
Laissa tomber ces mots:

“O temps, suspends ton vol! et vous, heures propices,
Suspendez votre cours!
Laissez-nous savourer les rapides délices
Des plus beaux de nos jours!

“Assez de malheureux ici-bas vous implorent:
Coulez, coulez pour eux;
Prenez avec leurs jours les soins qui les dévorent;
Oubliez les heureux.”

Mais je demande en vain quelques moments encore,
Le temps m’échappe et fuit;
je dis à cette nuit: “Sois plus lente”; et l’aurore
Va dissiper la nuit.

Aimons donc, aimons donc! de l’heure fugitive,
Hâtons-nous, jouissons!
L’homme n’a point de port, le temps n’a point de rive;
Il coule, et nous passons!

Temps jaloux, se peut-il que ces moments d’ivresse,
Où l’amour à longs flots nous verse le bonheur,
S’envolent loin de nous de la même vitesse
Que les jours de malheur?

Hé quoi! n’en pourrons-nous fixer au moins la trace?
Quoi! passés pour jamais? quoi! tout entiers perdus?
Ce temps qui les donna, ce temps qui les efface,
Ne nous les rendra plus?

Éternité, néant, passé, sombres abîmes,
Que faites-vous des jours que vous engloutissez?
Parlez: nous rendrez-vous ces extases sublimes
Que vous nous ravissez?

O lac! rochers muets! grottes! forêt obscure!
Vous que le temps épargne ou qu’il peut rajeunir,
Gardez de cette nuit, gardez, belle nature,
Au moins le souvenir!

Qu’il soit dans ton repos, qu’il soit dans tes orages,
Beau lac, et dans l’aspect de tes riants coteaux,
Et dans ces noirs sapins, et dans ces rocs sauvages
Qui pendent sur tes eaux!

Qu’il soit dans le zéphyr qui frémit et qui passe,
Dans les bruits de tes bords par tes bords répétés,
Dans l’astre au front d’argent qui blanchit ta surface
De ses molles clartés!

Que le vent qui gémit, le roseau qui soupire,
Que les parfums légers de ton air embaumé,
Que tout ce qu’on entend, l’on voit ou l’on respire,
Tout dise: “Ils ont aimé!”

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Nov 01

Tristesse(Sorrow)

Tristesse

J’ai perdu ma force et ma vie,
Et mes amis et ma gaieté;
J’ai perdu jusqu’à la fierté
Qui faisait croire à mon génie.

Quand j’ai connu la Vérité,
J’ai cru que c’était une amie ;
Quand je l’ai comprise et sentie,
J’en étais déjà dégoûté.

Et pourtant elle est éternelle,
Et ceux qui se sont passés d’elle
Ici-bas ont tout ignoré.

Dieu parle, il faut qu’on lui réponde.
Le seul bien qui me reste au monde
Est d’avoir quelquefois pleuré.

Sorrow

I lost my strength and my life,
My friends and my joy;
I lost till the pride
That made my genius believable.

When I knew Truth,
I thought she was a friend;
When I understood and felt her,
I was already disgusted by her.

Although, she is eternal,
And those who did without her
On this Earth didn’t understand anything.

God is speaking, we must answer him.
The only good I still have in this world
Is to have cried sometime

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Nov 01

Ode To Joy

Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)

translated by William F. Wertz

Joy, thou beauteous godly lightning,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Heavenly, thy holy home!
Thy enchantments bind together,
What did custom stern divide,
Every man becomes a brother,
Where thy gentle wings abide.


Chorus.
Be embrac’d, ye millions yonder!
Take this kiss throughout the world!
Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d
Must reside a loving Father.}


Who the noble prize achieveth,
Good friend of a friend to be;
Who a lovely wife attaineth,
Join us in his jubilee!
Yes—he too who but {one} being
On this earth can call {his} own!
He who ne’er was able, weeping
Stealeth from this league alone!


Chorus.

He who in the great ring dwelleth,
Homage pays to sympathy!
To the stars above leads she,
Where on high the {Unknown} reigneth.}


Joy is drunk by every being
From kind nature’s flowing breasts,
Every evil, every good thing
For her rosy footprint quests.
Gave she {us} both {vines} and kisses,
In the face of death a friend,
To the worm were given blisses
And the Cherubs God attend.


Chorus.

Fall before him, all ye millions?
{Know’st} thou the Creator, world?
Seek above the stars unfurl’d,
Yonder dwells He in the heavens.}

Joy commands the hardy mainspring
Of the universe eterne.
Joy, oh joy the wheel is driving
Which the worlds’ great clock doth turn.
Flowers from the buds she coaxes,
Suns from out the hyaline,
Spheres she rotates through expanses,
Which the seer can’t divine.


Chorus.

As the suns are flying, happy
Through the heaven’s glorious plane,
Travel, brothers, down your lane,
Joyful as in hero’s vict’ry.}


From the truth’s own fiery mirror
On the searcher {doth} she smile.
Up the steep incline of honor
Guideth {she} the suff’rer’s mile.
High upon faith’s sunlit mountains
One can see {her} banner flies,
Through the breach of open’d coffins
{She} in angel’s choir doth rise.


Chorus.

Suffer on courageous millions!
Suffer for a better world!
O’er the tent of stars unfurl’d
God rewards you from the heavens.}


Gods can never be requited,
Beauteous ’tis, their like to be.
Grief and want shall be reported,
So to cheer with gaiety.
Hate and vengeance be forgotten,
Pardon’d be our mortal foe,
Not a teardrop shall him dampen,
No repentance bring him low.


Chorus.

Let our book of debts be cancell’d!
Reconcile the total world!
Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d
God doth judge, as we have settl’d.}


Joy doth bubble from this rummer,
From the golden blood of grape
Cannibals imbibe good temper,
Weak of heart their courage take—
Brothers, fly up from thy places,
When the brimming cup doth pass,
Let the foam shoot up in spaces:
To the goodly Soul this glass!


Chorus.

Whom the crown of stars doth honor,
Whom the hymns of Seraphs bless,
{To the goodly Soul this glass}
O’er the tent of stars up yonder!}


Courage firm in grievous trial,
Help, where innocence doth scream,
Oaths which sworn to are eternal,
Truth to friend and foe the same,
Manly pride ’fore kingly power—
Brothers, cost it life and blood,—
Honor to whom merits honor,
Ruin to the lying brood!


Chorus.

Closer draw the holy circle,
Swear it by this golden wine,
Faithful to the vow divine,
Swear it by the Judge celestial!}


Rescue from the tyrant’s fetters,
Mercy to the villain e’en,
Hope within the dying hours,
Pardon at the guillotine!
E’en the dead shall live in heaven!
Brothers, drink and all agree,
Every sin shall be forgiven,
Hell forever cease to be.


Chorus.


A serene departing hour!
Pleasant sleep beneath the pall!
Brothers—gentle words for all
Doth the Judge of mortals utter!}

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Nov 01

I don’t pity, don’t call, don’t cry…

Poetry of Sergey Aleksandrovich Yesenin

Translated by Lyuba Coffey

I don’t pity, don’t call, don’t cry,

All will be gone, like haze from the white apple trees.

Seized by the gold of withering,

I will never be young again.

My heart touched by the chill within,

You will not beat as before,

And the cotton birches of the countryside

No more will lure me to gad about barefoot.

Wandering spirit! Less and less

Do you stir the flame of my lips.

Oh, gone, my freshness,

Stormy eyes, high water of feelings.

Now, I’ve become tame in my wishes,

Life of mine? Did you come in dreams to me?

As if at an echo-filled early Spring hour

I rode by on a rose-colored stallion.

We all, we all decay in this world,

The copper flows quietly from the maple trees.

Let it be in centuries blessed,

That it happened to me to bloom and die.

1921

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