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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Dead
By Emile Verhaeren (1855–1916)
 
From ‘Six French Poets’: Translation of Amy Lowell

IN its dress of the color of gall and poison, the corpse of my reason trails upon the Thames.  1
  Bronze bridges, where wagons clank with interminable noises of hinges, and sails of dark boats, let their shadows fall upon it. With no movement of hands over its clock face, a great belfry, masked with red, gazes at it as though at someone immensely sad and dead.  2
 
  My reason is dead from too much knowledge, from a too great desire to shape the motive of every being and every thing, and place it upon a black granite pedestal. It died atrociously, of a clever poisoning; it died also of a mad dream of an absurd and red empire. On the illuminated evening of a festival, when it felt this triumph float, like eagles, over its head, its nerves gave way. It died when it could no more feel ardor and aching desires. And it killed itself, infinitely exhausted.  3
 
  All down the length of mournful walls, the length of iron factories where hammers boom like thunder, it trails to the funeral.  4
 
  There are wharves and barracks, always wharves with lanterns—slow and motionless spinners of the dim gold of their lights. There are the drearinesses of stones, a brick house, a black jail, whose windows, like dull eyelids, open to the evening fog. There are great insane dockyards, full of dismantled ships and yards quartered against a sky of crucifixions.  5
 
  In its dress of dead jewels, which celebrates the hour of purple at the horizon, the corpse of my reason trails upon the Thames.  6
 
  It goes toward the perils in the depths of shadow and fog, to the long hollow sound of the tolling of heavy bells breaking their wings at the corners of towers. Leaving unsatisfied behind it the immense city of life, it goes toward the black unknown, to sleep in the graves of evening, far away, where the slow and powerful waves, opening their endless caverns, swallow the dead forever.  7
 
 
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