To A Madonna (A une Madone)

I’ll build for you, Madonna, mistress mine
deep in my crypt of woe a secret shrine
And carve out in the darkest corner of my heart,
Far from abject desires and worldly art,
A niche, with gold and azure all about you,
Where you shall dwell, my dear amazed Statue.
On this polished metal trellis my Verses climb
Those bursts of gleaming crystal form the Rhymes
I shall make for your head an ornate Crown,
And from my Jealousy the finest gown,
O mortal Madonna, I fashion it for you
Barbaric, heavy, stiff, with greenish hue
Which, like a safe, protects you, precious dear;
Embroidered not with Pearls, but with my Tears!
Your dress will be my quivering Desire,
Undulant this garment, rippling like fire
Perched on the crests, reposing in the troughs,
Clothes with a kiss your body pink and soft.
Of my Self-respect I’ll make your Slippers fine,
The satin, humbled by your feet divine,
Imprisons them in a delicate embrace,
The contours of your toes they closely trace;
If I can’t, in spite of all my labors spent,
Carve a Moon of silver for your Monument,
I’ll put the Serpent who feasts upon my heart
Under your heels, for you to tear apart,
Triumphant queen, all pregnant with redemptions,
That hateful snake, grown fat on vile pretensions.
You will see my Thoughts like rows of votives lit
Before the Queen of Virgins’ altar sit
Starring all the azure ceiling higher,
And watching you with flickering eyes of fire.
Since nothing in me that you do not stir,
All will be offered, frankincense, and myrrh,
And up to you, white peak, in clouds will soar
My stormy soul, in rapture, to adore.

At last, your role of Mary to perfect
And mingle barbarism with respect —
Of seven deadly sins, O black delight!
Remorseful torturer, to show my sleight,
I’ll forge and sharpen seven deadly swords
And like a callous juggler on the boards,
Taking it for my target, I would dart
Them deep into your streaming, sobbing heart.

–Translated by Emmy Bean

[See original poem here.]


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