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swan songs
britain greatest
nation on earth
arise sir salman
thanks tony for
playing big shot
parting waters
keeping hell's
fires burning
lamb's blood
running south
and east long
after you and
george leave.
-VM


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Neue Gedichte: In Der Fremde: 'Ich hatte einst'
I had a lovely homeland long ago.
The oak trees seemed
So tall there, and the violets blew so sweet.
It was a dream.
It kissed me in German, spoke in German
(You'd scarce believe
How good it sounds) the words: I love you true!'
It was a dream.
-Heinrich Heine
(Translated by A. S. Kline)


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Oh days devoted to the useless burden
of putting out of mind the biography
of a minor poet of the Southem Hemisphere,
to whom the fates or perhaps the stars have given
a body which will leave behind no child,
and blindness, which is semi-darkness and jail,
and old age, which is the dawn of death,
and fame, which absolutely nobody deserves,
and the practice of weaving hendecasyllables,
and an old love of encyclopedias
and fine handmade maps and smooth ivory,
and an incurable nostalgia for the Latin,
and bits of memories of Edinburgh and Geneva

and the loss of memory of names and dates,
and the cult of the East, which the varied peoples
of the teeming East do not themselves share,
and evening trembling with hope or expectation,
and the disease of entymology,
and the iron of Anglo-Saxon syllables,
and the moon, that always catches us by surprise,
and that worse of all bad habits, Buenos Aires,
and the subtle flavor of water, the taste of grapes,
and chocolate, oh Mexican delicacy,
and a few coins and an old hourglass,
and that an evening, like so many others,
be given over to these lines of verse.
-Jorge Luis Borges


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Aftenen. Et Fragment (II)
Klogskab, skaan en følsom Daare --
Skaan ham, for dit kolde Raad! --
Viisdom, røv mig ey min Taare! --
Haab, misund mig ey min Graad! --
-Johannes Ewald


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Sonnets of William Shakespeare
Sonnet 70
LXX.

That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
The ornament of beauty is suspect,
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.
So thou be good, slander doth but approve
Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time;
For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love,
And thou present'st a pure unstained prime.
Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days,
Either not assail'd or victor being charged;
Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise,
To tie up envy evermore enlarged:
If some suspect of ill mask'd not thy show,
Then thou alone kingdoms of hearts shouldst owe.


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ALBA
Mi corazón oprimido
Siente junto a la alborada
El dolor de sus amores
Y el sueño de las distancias.
La luz de la aurora lleva
Semilleros de nostalgias
Y la tristeza sin ojos
De la médula del alma.
La gran tumba de la noche
Su negro velo levanta
Para ocultar con el día
La inmensa cumbre estrellada.

Qué haré yo sobre estos campos
Cogiendo nidos y ramas
Rodeado de la aurora
Y llena de noche el alma!
Qué haré si tienes tus ojos
Muertos a las luces claras
Y no ha de sentir mi carne
El calor de tus miradas!
Por qué te perdí por siempre
En aquella tarde clara?
Hoy mi pecho está reseco
Como una estrella apagada.
-Federico García Lorca


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Guardian Angel
I am the bird that knocks at your window in the morning
and your companion, whom you cannot know,
the blossoms that light up for the blind.
I am the glacier's crest above the forests, the dazzling one
and the brass voices from cathedral towers.
The thought that suddenly comes over you at midday
and fills you with a singular happiness.
I am one you have loved long ago.
I walk alongside you by day and look intently at you
and put my mouth on your heart
but you don't know it.
I am your third arm and your second
shadow, the white one,
whom you don't have the heart for
and who cannot ever forget you.
-Rolf Jacobsen
(Translated by Roger Greenwald)


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Hunger Camp At Jaslo
Write it. Write. In ordinary ink
on ordinary paper: they were given no food,
they all died of hunger. "All. How many?
It's a big meadow. How much grass
for each one?" Write: I don't know.
History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
A thousand and one remains a thousand,
as though the one had never existed:
an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle,
an ABC never read,
air that laughs, cries, grows,
emptiness running down steps toward the garden,
nobody's place in the line.
We stand in the meadow where it became flesh,
and the meadow is silent as a false witness.
Sunny. Green. Nearby, a forest
with wood for chewing and water under the bark-
every day a full ration of the view
until you go blind. Overhead, a bird-
the shadow of its life-giving wings
brushed their lips. Their jaws opened.
Teeth clacked against teeth.
At night, the sickle moon shone in the sky
and reaped wheat for their bread.
Hands came floating from blackened icons,
empty cups in their fingers.
On a spit of barbed wire,
a man was turning.
They sang with their mouths full of earth.
"A lovely song of how war strikes straight
at the heart." Write: how silent.
"Yes."
-Wislawa Szymborska
(Translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint)


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Between Two Hills
Between two hills
The old town stands.
The houses loom
And the roofs and trees
And the dusk and the dark,
The damp and the dew
Are there.

The prayers are said
And the people rest
For sleep is there
And the touch of dreams
Is over all.
-Carl Sandburg


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The Lake
In spring of youth it was my lot
To haunt of the wide world a spot
The which I could not love the less-
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall pines that towered around.

But when the Night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot, as upon all,
And the mystic wind went by
Murmuring in melody-
Then- ah then I would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright,
But a tremulous delight-
A feeling not the jewelled mine
Could teach or bribe me to define-
Nor Love- although the Love were thine.

Death was in that poisonous wave,
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his lone imagining-
Whose solitary soul could make
An Eden of that dim lake.
-Edgar Allan Poe


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Be Kind
we are always asked
to understand the other person's
viewpoint
no matter how
out-dated
foolish or
obnoxious.

one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
with
kindliness,
especially if they are
aged.

but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
badly
because they have
lived
out of focus,
they have refused to
see.

not their fault?

whose fault?
mine?

I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
fear.

age is no crime

but the shame
of a deliberately
wasted
life

among so many
deliberately
wasted
lives

is.
-Charles Bukowski


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La chanson des ingénues
Nous sommes les Ingénues
Aux bandeaux plats, à l'oeil bleu,
Qui vivons, presque inconnues,
Dans les romans qu'on lit peu.

Nous allons entrelacées,
Et le jour n'est pas plus pur
Que le fond de nos pensées,
Et nos rêves sont d'azur ;

Et nous courons par les prés
Et rions et babillons
Des aubes jusqu'aux vesprées,
Et chassons aux papillons ;

Et des chapeaux de bergères
Défendent notre fraîcheur
Et nos robes - si légères -
Sont d'une extrême blancheur ;

Les Richelieux, les Caussades
Et les chevaliers Faublas
Nous prodiguent les oeillades,
Les saluts et les "hélas !"

Mais en vain, et leurs mimiques
Se viennent casser le nez
Devant les plis ironiques
De nos jupons détournés ;

Et notre candeur se raille
Des imaginations
De ces raseurs de muraille,
Bien que parfois nous sentions

Battre nos coeurs sous nos mantes
À des pensers clandestins,
En nous sachant les amantes
-Paul Verlaine


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DESCENT
I made a far journey
Earth's fair cities to view,
but like to love's city
City none I knew

At the first I knew not
That city's worth,
And turned in my folly
A wanderer on earth.

From so sweet a country
I must needs pass,
And like to cattle
Grazed on every grass.

As Moses' people
I would liefer eat
Garlic, than manna
And celestial meat.

What voice in this world
to my ear has come
Save the voice of love
Was a tapped drum.

Yet for that drum-tap
From the world of All
Into this perishing
Land I did fall.

That world a lone spirit
Inhabiting.
Like a snake I crept
Without foot or wing.

The wine that was laughter
And grace to sip
Like a rose I tasted
Without throat or lip.

'Spirit, go a journey,'
Love's voice said:
'Lo, a home of travail
I have made.'

Much, much I cried:
'I will not go';
Yea, and rent my raiment
And made great woe.

Even as now I shrink
To be gone from here,
Even so thence
To part I did fear.

'Spirit, go thy way,'
Love called again,
'And I shall be ever nigh thee
As they neck's vein.'

Much did love enchant me
And made much guile;
Love's guile and enchantment
Capture me the while.

In ignorance and folly
When my wings I spread,
From palace unto prison
I was swiftly sped.

Now I would tell
How thither thou mayst come;
But ah, my pen is broke
And I am dumb.
-Rumi
(Translated by A..J. Arberry)



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Rhénane d'Automne
Mon verre est plein d'un vin trembleur comme une flamme
Ecoutez la chanson lente d'un batelier
Qui raconte avoir vu sous la lune sept femmes
Tordre leurs cheveux verts et longs jusqu'à leurs pieds

Debout chantez plus haut en dansant une ronde
Que je n'entende plus le chant du batelier
Et mettez près de moi toutes les filles blondes
Au regard immobile aux nattes repliées

Le Rhin le Rhin est ivre où les vignes se mirent
Tout l'or des nuits tombe en tremblant s'y refléter
La voix chante toujours à en râle-mourir
Ces fées aux cheveux verts qui incantent l'été

Mon verre s'est brisé comme un éclat de rire
-Guillaume Apollinaire


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Tristesse d'été
Le soleil, sur le sable, ô lutteuse endormie,
En l'or de tes cheveux chauffe un bain langoureux
Et, consumant l'encens sur ta joue ennemie,
Il mêle avec les pleurs un breuvage amoureux.

De ce blanc Flamboiement l'immuable accalmie
T'a fait dire, attristée, ô mes baisers peureux,
« Nous ne serons jamais une seule momie
Sous l'antique désert et les palmiers heureux! »

Mais ta chevelure est une rivière tiède,
Où noyer sans frissons l'âme qui nous obsède
Et trouver ce Néant que tu ne connais pas.

Je goûterai le fard pleuré par tes paupières,
Pour voir s'il sait donner au coeur que tu frappas
L'insensibilité de l'azur et des pierres.
-Stéphane Mallarmé



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Apparition
La lune s'attristait. Des séraphins en pleurs
Rêvant, l'archet aux doigts, dans le calme des fleurs
Vaporeuses, tiraient de mourantes violes
De blancs sanglots glissant sur l'azur des corolles.
- C'était le jour béni de ton premier baiser.
Ma songerie aimant à me martyriser
S'enivrait savamment du parfum de tristesse
Que même sans regret et sans déboire laisse
La cueillaison d'un Rêve au coeur qui l'a cueilli.
J'errais donc, l'oeil rivé sur le pavé vieilli
Quand avec du soleil aux cheveux, dans la rue
Et dans le soir, tu m'es en riant apparue
Et j'ai cru voir la fée au chapeau de clarté
Qui jadis sur mes beaux sommeils d'enfant gâté
Passait, laissant toujours de ses mains mal fermées
Neiger de blancs bouquets d'étoiles parfumées.
-Stéphane Mallarmé



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À la Musique
Sur la place taillée en mesquines pelouses,
Square où tout est correct, les arbres et les fleurs,
Tous les bourgeois poussifs qu'étranglent les chaleurs
Portent, les jeudis soirs, leurs bêtises jalouses

- L'orchestre militaire, au milieu du jardin,
Balance ses schakos dans la Valse des fifres :
- Autour, aux premiers rangs, parade le gandin ;
Le notaire pend à ses breloques à chiffres

Des rentiers à lorgnons soulignent tous les couacs :
Les gros bureaux bouffis traînent leurs grosses dames
Auprès desquelles vont, officieux cornacs,
Celles dont les volants ont des airs de réclames ;

Sur les bancs verts, des clubs d'épiciers retraités
Qui tisonnent le sable avec leur canne à pomme,
Fort sérieusement discutent les traités,
Puis prisent en argent, et reprennent : "En somme !..."

Épatant sur son banc les rondeurs de ses reins,
Un bourgeois à boutons clairs, bedaine flamande,
Savoure son onnaing d'où le tabac par brins
Déborde - vous savez, c'est de la contrebande ; -

Le long des gazons verts ricanent les voyous ;
Et rendus amoureux par le chant des trombones,
Très naïfs, et fumant des roses, les pioupious
Caressent les bébés pour enjôler les bonnes..

- Moi, je suis, débraillé comme un étudiant
Sous les marronniers verts les alertes fillettes :
Elles le savent bien ; et tournent en riant,
Vers moi, leurs yeux tout pleins de choses indiscrètes

Je ne dit pas un mot : je regarde toujours
La chair de leurs cous blancs brodés de mèches folles :
Je suis, sous le corsage et les frêles atours,
Le dos divin après la courbe des épaules

J'ai bientôt déniché la bottine, le bas...
- Je reconstruis les corps, brûlé de belles fièvres.
Elles me trouvent drôle et se parlent tout bas...
- Et mes désirs brutaux s'accrochent à leurs lèvres...
-Arthur Rimbaud

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SONNET #3
LOOK in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another,
Whose fresh repair if now thou renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live rememb'red not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.
-William Shakespeare


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CROSSING THE BAR
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
-Alfred Tennyson



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The writer's joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought. -Thomas Mann


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La Rama
Canta en la punta del pino
un pájaro detenido,
trémulo, sobre su trino.

Se yergue, flecha, en la rama,
se desvanece entre alas
y en música se derrama.

El pájaro es una astilla
que canta y se quema viva
en una nota amarilla.

Alzo los ojos: no hay nada.
Silencio sobre la rama,
sobre la rama quebrada
-Octavio Paz



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My Mother's Hand
Bathing in a drop's quiet light
I remember how I came into being:
A pencil stuck in my hand,
my mother's cool hand around mine, it was warm.
-And then we wrote
in and out between coral reefs,
an undersea alphabet of arches and apexes
of snail-shell spirals, of starfish points,
of gesticulating octopus arms,
of cave vaults and rock formations.
Letters that vibrated and found their way,
dizzy over the white.
Words like flat fish that flapped
and dug themselves into the sand
or swaying sea anemones with hundreds of threads
in quiet motion at the same time.
Sentences like streams of fish
that grew fins and rose,
grew wings and moved in a rhythm,
throbbing like my blood, that blindly
beat stars against the heart's night sky,
when I saw that her hand had let mine go,
that I had long ago written myself out of her grasp.
-Pia Tafdrup
(Translated by David McDuff)



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from
Of asphodel, that greeny flower,
like a buttercup
upon its branching stem-
save that it's green and wooden-
I come, my sweet,
to sing to you.
We lived long together
a life filled,
if you will,
with flowers. So that
I was cheered
when I came first to know
that there were flowers also
in hell.
Today
I'm filled with the fading memory of those flowers
that we both loved,
even to this poor
colorless thing-
I saw it
when I was a child-
little prized among the living
but the dead see,
asking among themselves:
What do I remember
that was shaped
as this thing is shaped?
while our eyes fill
with tears.
Of love, abiding love
it will be telling
though too weak a wash of crimson
colors it
to make it wholly credible.
There is something
something urgent
I have to say to you
and you alone
but it must wait
while I drink in
the joy of your approach,
perhaps for the last time.
And so
with fear in my heart
I drag it out
and keep on talking
for I dare not stop.
Listen while I talk on
against time.
It will not be
for long.
I have forgot
and yet I see clearly enough
something
central to the sky
which ranges round it.
An odor
springs from it!
A sweetest odor!
Honeysuckle! And now
there comes the buzzing of a bee!
and a whole flood
of sister memories!
Only give me time,
time to recall them
before I shall speak out.
Give me time,
time.
When I was a boy
I kept a book
to which, from time
to time,
I added pressed flowers
until, after a time,
I had a good collection.
The asphodel,
forebodingly,
among them.
I bring you,
reawakened,
a memory of those flowers.
They were sweet
when I pressed them
and retained
something of their sweetness
a long time.
It is a curious odor,
a moral odor,
that brings me
near to you.
The color
was the first to go.
There had come to me
a challenge,
your dear self,
mortal as I was,
the lily's throat
to the hummingbird!
Endless wealth,
I thought,
held out its arms to me.
A thousand tropics
in an apple blossom.
The generous earth itself
gave us lief.
The whole world
became my garden!
But the sea
which no one tends
is also a garden
when the sun strikes it
and the waves
are wakened.
I have seen it
and so have you
when it puts all flowers
to shame.
Too, there are the starfish
stiffened by the sun
and other sea wrack
and weeds. We knew that
along with the rest of it
for we were born by the sea,
knew its rose hedges
to the very water's brink.
There the pink mallow grows
and in their season
strawberries
and there, later,
we went to gather
the wild plum.
I cannot say
that I have gone to hell
for your love
but often
found myself there
in your pursuit.
I do not like it
and wanted to be
in heaven. Hear me out.
Do not turn away.
I have learned much in my life
from books
and out of them
about love.
Death
is not the end of it.
There is a hierarchy
which can be attained,
I think,
in its service.
Its guerdon
is a fairy flower;
a cat of twenty lives.
If no one came to try it
the world
would be the loser.
It has been
for you and me
as one who watches a storm
come in over the water.
We have stood
from year to year
before the spectacle of our lives
with joined hands.
The storm unfolds.
Lightning
plays about the edges of the clouds.
The sky to the north
is placid,
blue in the afterglow
as the storm piles up.
It is a flower
that will soon reach
the apex of its bloom.
We danced,
in our minds,
and read a book together.
You remember?
It was a serious book.
And so books
entered our lives.
The sea! The sea!
Always
when I think of the sea
there comes to mind
the Iliad
and Helen's public fault
that bred it.
Were it not for that
there would have been
no poem but the world
if we had remembered,
those crimson petals
spilled among the stones,
would have called it simply
murder.
The sexual orchid that bloomed then
sending so many
disinterested
men to their graves
has left its memory
to a race of fools
or heroes
if silence is a virtue.
The sea alone
with its multiplicity
holds any hope.
The storm
has proven abortive
but we remain
after the thoughts it roused
to
re-cement our lives.
It is the mind
the mind
that must be cured
short of death's
intervention,
and the will becomes again
a garden. The poem
is complex and the place made
in our lives
for the poem.
Silence can be complex too,
but you do not get far
with silence.
Begin again.
It is like Homer's
catalogue of ships:
it fills up the time.
I speak in figures,
well enough, the dresses
you wear are figures also,
we could not meet
otherwise. When I speak
of flowers
it is to recall
that at one time
we were young.
All women are not Helen,
I know that,
but have Helen in their hearts.
My sweet,
you have it also, therefore
I love you
and could not love you otherwise.
Imagine you saw
a field made up of women
all silver-white.
What should you do
but love them?
The storm bursts
or fades! it is not
the end of the world.
Love is something else,
or so I thought it,
a garden which expands,
though I knew you as a woman
and never thought otherwise,
until the whole sea
has been taken up
and all its gardens.
It was the love of love,
the love that swallows up all else,
a grateful love,
a love of nature, of people,
of animals,
a love engendering
gentleness and goodness
that moved me
and that I saw in you.
I should have known,
though I did not,
that the lily-of-the-valley
is a flower makes many ill
who whiff it.
We had our children,
rivals in the general onslaught.
I put them aside
though I cared for them.
as well as any man
could care for his children
according to my lights.
You understand
I had to meet you
after the event
and have still to meet you.
Love
to which you too shall bow
along with me-
a flower
a weakest flower
shall be our trust
and not because
we are too feeble
to do otherwise
but because
at the height of my power
I risked what I had to do,
therefore to prove
that we love each other
while my very bones sweated
that I could not cry to you
in the act.
Of asphodel, that greeny flower,
I come, my sweet,
to sing to you!
My heart rouses
thinking to bring you news
of something
that concerns you
and concerns many men. Look at
what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in
despised poems.
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
Hear me out
for I too am concerned
and every man
who wants to die at peace in his bed
besides.
-William Carlos Williams


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Sonnet V
If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again --
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man -- who happened to be you --
At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud -- I could not cry
Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place --
I should but watch the station lights rush by
With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay


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Buch Der Lieder: Lyrisches Intermezzo: 'Ich glaub nicht an den Himmel'
I don't believe in Heaven,
Whose peace the preacher cites:
I only trust your eyes now,
They're my heavenly lights.

I don't believe in God above,
Who gets the preacher's nod:
I only trust your heart now,
And have no other god.

I don't believe in Devils,
In hell or hell's black art:
I only trust your eyes now,
And your devil's heart.
-Heinrich Heine



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La musique
La musique souvent me prend comme une mer !
Vers ma pâle étoile,
Sous un plafond de brume ou dans un vaste éther,
Je mets à la voile
La poitrine en avant et les poumons gonflés
Comme de la toile,
J'escalade le dos des flots amoncelés
Que la nuit me voile ;
Je sens vibrer en moi toutes les passions
D'un vaisseau qui souffre ;
Le bon vent, la tempête et ses convulsions
Sur l'immense gouffre
Me bercent. D'autres fois, calme plat, grand miroir
De mon désespoir !
-Charles Baudelaire

Last edited: 31 July 2007 15:50:00