Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 8.1 (Stéphane Mallarmé)

Collected Poems
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Mallarmé, Stéphane
Collected Poems

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

No memories surface as I stare at this book, except maybe the fact that I remember admiring it on the shelves often, over a period of time, before I bought it. It's a beautiful book-object, printed on good paper, with a lovely cover. I don't know why I didn't buy it right away. Perhaps I didn't have any money at the time. That has rarely stopped me before. Looks like it might have suffered a little bit of water damage at some point, near the end of the book, close to the spine. Just a little, though.

from Collected Poems

The Pipe

Yesterday I found my pipe while pondering a long evening of work, of fine winter work. Thrown aside were my cigarettes, with all the childish joys of summer, into the past which the leaves shining blue in the sun, the muslins, illuminate, and taken up once again was the grave pipe of a serious man who wants to smoke for a long while without being disturbed, so as better to work: but I was not prepared for the surprise that this abandoned object had in store for me; for hardly had I drawn the furst puff when I forgot the grand books I was planning to write, and, amazed, moved to a feeling of tenderness, I breathed in the air of the previous winter which was now coming back to me. I had not been in contact with my faithful sweetheart since returning to France, and now all of London, London as I lived it a year ago entirely alone, appeared before my eyes: first the dear fogs that muffle one's brains and have an odor of their own there when they penetrate beneath the casements. My tobacco had the scent of a somber room with leather furniture sprinkled by coal dust, on which the thin black cat would curl and stretch; the big fires! and the maid with red arms pouring coals, and the noise of those coals falling from the sheet-iron bucket into the iron scuttle in the morning--when the postman gave the solemn double knock that kept me alive! Once again I saw through the windows those sickly trees of the deserted square--I saw the open sea, crossed so often that winter, shivering on the deck of the steamer wet with drizzle and blackened with fumes--with my poor wandering beloved, decked out in traveller's clothes, a long dress, dull as the dust of the roads, a coat clinging damply to her cold shoulders, one of those straw hats with no feather and hardly any ribbons that wealthy ladies throw away upon arrival, mangled as they are by the sea, and that poor loved ones refurbish for many another season. Around her neck, was wound the terrible handkerchief that one waves when saying goodbye forever.

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