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         from Mallarmé

The already funereal silence of the silk
arranges more than one fold on the furniture
that must with subsidence of the central pillar
collapse in default of memory.

Our old triumphal frolic of the book,
hieroglyphs exalting by the thousand
to spread with a wing the familiar shiver!
Let me send it back into the closet.

From the original smiling hated uproar
among them, from mistress brilliancies have burst
onto a parvis born for their simulacrum,

gold trumpets swooning aloud on vellum,
the god Richard Wagner lighting a sacrament
unmuted even by the ink in sybilline sobs.


Canticle of St. John

from Mallarmé

The sun that supernaturally
exalts in its apogee
instantly redescends

I feel as if in my vertebrae
shadows were spreading
all in a shiver

and my head leaping up
a lone sentry
in the triumphal flights
         of this scythe

as a clean break
rather represses or cuts short
the ancient argument
         with the body

than drunk from fasting
stubbornly maintains
its pure regard
         through a wild bounce

up there where the eternal
ice cannot stand
your surpassing it
         all, glaciers

but in accordance with a baptism
illuminated by the same
principle that chose me,
         tips its hat.


[Peter Manson was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1969. His books and pamphlets include me generation (Writers Forum, 1997), Adjunct: an Undigest (Edinburgh Review, 2005), Before and After Mallarmé (Survivors’ Press, 2005), For the Good of Liars (Barque Press, 2006) and Between Cup and Lip (Miami University Press, Ohio 2008). An audio CD of extracts from Adjunct: an Undigest was released by Stem Recordings in 2004. He co-edits the Object Permanence pamphlet series with Robin Purves, and was the 2005-6 Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry at the University of Cambridge. His website, “Freebase Accordion,” is at]

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