Sunday, July 21, 2013


I think of thee, Myrtho, divine enchanteress,
Of lofty Posilipo, with a thousand fires glittering,
Of thy forehead flooded with the lights of the Orient,
Of the black grapes mingled with the gold of your hair.

It is in your cup too that I used to drink drunkenness,
And in the furtive lightning of your eye smiling
When I was seen praying at the feet of Iacchus
For the Muse had made me one of the sons of Greece.

I know why the volcano has reopend over there . . .
It's because you toucht it yesterday with a light foot,
And suddenly the horizon is hidden with ashes.

Since a Norman duke broke your gods of clay,
Always, under the laurel boughs of Virgil
The pale hydrangea joins the green myrtle!

Gerard de Nerval, Myrtho, From The Chimeras (1854) (trans. Robert Duncan), from Aurélia and Other Writings, Cambridge, Exact Change, 1996.

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