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Being Beauteous
Translated by Holly Tannen
assisted by Michael Potts

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     Against a snow, a high-statured Being of Beauty. Whistlings of death and circles of hollow music make this adored body rise, enlarge, and tremble like a ghost. Black and scarlet wounds burst in the superb flesh. The true colors of life deepen, dance, and disengage around the Vision in the making. Shudders rise and rumble, and the mad flavor of these effects takes on the mortal whistling and the raucous music which the world, far behind us hurls at our mother of beauty, - She recoils, she rears up. Oh! Our bones are clothed in an amorous new body.


     O the ashen face, the horsehair crest, the crystal arms! The cannon against which I must throw myself in the skirmish of trees and light air.

Translator's note: The title is English, and comes, I believe, from Tennyson. According to Claude Jeancolas, Rimbaud often uses stars to indicate the passage of time. That would make sense in this poem, accounting for the shift in mood from the first to the second section. "La chute rimbaldienne comme toujours après de trop beaux rêves." - "The rimbaldien fall, as always, after dreams that have been too beautiful." - Jeancolas, Rimbaud, l'Oeuvre, p. 342 (Textuel, 2000).

Being Beauteous

     Devant une neige un Etre de Beauté de haute taille. Des sifflements de mort et des cercles de musique sourde fontmonter, s'élargir et trembler comme un spectre ce corps adoré, des blessures écarlates et noires éclatent dans les chairs superbes. Les couleurs propres de la vie se foncent, dansent, et se dégagent autour de la Vision, sur le chantier. Et les frissons s'élèvent et grondent et la saveur forcenée de ces effets se chargeant avec les sifflements mortels et les rauques musiques que le monde, loin derrière nous, lance sur notre mère de beauté, - elle recule, elle se dresse. Oh! nos os sont revêtus d'un nouveau corps amoureux.


     O la face cendrée, l'écusson de crin, les bras de cristal ! Le canon sur lequel je dois m'abattre à travers la mêlée des arbres et de l'air léger !

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     Holly Tannen teaches folklore and anthropology, and has lectured on contemporary magic at U.C. Berkeley and at Yale University. Her recordings include "Invocation", "Between the Worlds", and "Rime of the Ancient Matriarch"

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Michael Potts, webster updated 29 March 2002 : 10:20 Caspar (Pacific) time

All text, translations, and songs copyright © 2002 by Holly Tannen