Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
By Paul Verlaine (1844–1896)
Translation of Gertrude Hall

AH, inspiration, splendid, dominant,
  Egeria with the lightsome eyes profound,
Sudden Erato, Genius quick to grant,
  Old picture Angel of the gilt background!
Muse,—ay, whose voice is powerful indeed,        5
  Since in the first-come brain it makes to grow
Thick as some dusty yellow roadside weed,
  A gardenful of poems none did sow!—
Dove, Holy Ghost, Delirium, Sacred Fire,
  Transporting Passion,—seasonable queen!—        10
Gabriel and lute, Latona’s son and lyre,—
  Ay, Inspiration, summoned at sixteen!
What we have need of, we, the poets true,
  That not believe in gods, and yet revere,
That have no halo, hold no golden clue,        15
  For whom no Beatrix leaves her radiant sphere,—
We that do chisel words like chalices,
  And moving verses shape with unmoved mind,
Whom wandering in groups by evening seas,
  In musical converse ye scarce shall find,—        20
What we need is, in midnight hours dim-lit,
  Sleep daunted, knowledge earned,—more knowledge still!
Is Faust’s brow, of the woodcuts, sternly knit,—
  Is stubborn Perseverance, and is Will!
Is Will eternal, holy, absolute,        25
  That grasps—as doth a noble bird of prey
The steaming flanks of the foredoomèd brute—
  Its project, and with it—skyward, away!
What we need, we, is fixedness intense,
  Unequaled effort, strife that shall not cease;        30
Is night, the bitter night of labor, whence
  Arises, sun-like, slow, the Masterpiece!
Let our inspired hearts, by an eye-shot tined,
  Sway with the birch-tree to all winds that blow,
Poor things! Art knows not the divided mind—        35
  Speak—Milo’s Venus, is she stone or no?
We therefore, carve we with the chisel thought
  The pure block of the beautiful, and gain
From out the marble cold where it was not,
  Some starry-chiton’d statue without stain,        40
That one far day, posterity, new morn,
  Enkindling with a golden-rosy flame
Our work, new Memnon, shall to ears unborn
  Make quiver in the singing air our name!

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