Poem: ‘Notes for ‘Anatole’s Tomb’’

Stéphane Mallarmé

translated by Patrick McGuinness

child sprung from us both – showing us our ideal, the way
– to us! father and mother who in sad existence survive him, like the two
extremes – ill-matched in him and sundered from each other – whence his
death – abolishing this little child ‘self’

sick in the springtime dead in the autumn
– it’s the sun

the wave idea the cough

son reabsorbed not gone
it is him – or his brother
I told him this two brothers –

forced back remaining in the womb – sure of myself
century will not pass by
just to instruct me.

fury against the formless


did not know mother, and son did not know me! –
– image of myself other than myself carried off in death! –


your future which has taken refuge in me becomes my purity through life,
which I shall not touch –


there is a time in Existence when we will find each other again,
if not a place –
– and if you doubt that the world will be the witness,
supposing I live to be old enough –


father who born in a bad time – had prepared for son –
a sublime task –
the double one to fulfil – he fulfilled his – pain challenges him to sacrifice
himself to who is no more – will it triumph over strength (the man he did not
become) and will he do the child’s task

* * *

end of I
– o terror he is dead! –
– he is . . . dead (absolutely – i.e. stricken
mother sees him thus
in such a way that, sick, he seems to come back – or to see himself again in
the future – obtained in the present

mother I
no one can die with such eyes etc –
father lets out in his terror, sobs ‘he is dead’
– and it is in the wake of that cry, that II the child sits up in his bed – looks
around etc –
and III perhaps nothing – about death and simply implied – in
the space of ‘he is dead’ of I II

The father searches – and stops – the child being there, still, as if to take
hold of life again – hence interruption in the father – and the mother
appearing hopes cares – the double side man woman – first with the one,
then the other, hence deep union

and you his sister, you who one day – (this gulf open since his death and
which will follow us to ours – when we have gone down your mother and I)
must one day reunite all three of us in your thought, your memory

– just as in a single tomb
you who, in due time, will come upon this tomb, not made for you –


Sun down and wind
gold gone, and wind of nothing blowing (here, the modern nothingness)?

tears, flow of lucidity, the dead one is seen again through –


Death – whispers softly – I am no one – I do not even know myself (for dead do not know that they are dead –, nor even that they are dying – for children
at least – or heroes – sudden deaths – for otherwise my beauty is made up

of last moments – lucidity, beauty face – of what would be me, without me –
for as soon as I am – (that one dies) I cease to be – thus made of forebodings,
of intuitions, supreme shudders – I am not – (except in ideal state) – and for
the others, tears mourning etc – and it is my shadow ignorant of me, that
clothes the others in mourning


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