Nothing, this foam, a virgin verse,
Shows nothing but the cup;
Far away the many sirens
Drown the wrong way round, submersed.
We navigate through, my diverse
Friends, I already on the stern
You on the grand prow which divides
The waves of lightning and winters;
Sweet drunkenness calls me away
No fear of its instinctive sway
To give, hardly upright, this toast
A solitude, a reef, a star
To whatever it was that was
Worth the white torments of our sails.
Stéphane Mallarmé, born into a middle-class family on 18 March 1842 in Paris, is one of France’s four major poets of the second half of the nineteenth century, along with Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud. A lot of his poetry was acknowledged to be difficult to understand because of its tortuous syntax, ambiguous expressions, and obscure imagery. Since his lifetime, critics have continued to disagree as to the precise interpretations of many of his later works.
Eleanor Hill is a former Sarah Lawrence College student.