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41 42 an anthology of belgian symbolist poets But today, huddled in the drained cynicism Of their loathing, their minds find no rest: “What if happiness resided in virile selfishness, Then to suffer wisely, all alone, by act of will? Like all the others, they have tritely loved. They believed piously in bereavements, In suffering, in preaching gestures of apostles; Imbeciles, they were too scared to lose their pride. Now they discuss the ways in which cruelty reconciles Better than love; how they were deceived Into disguising ingratitude and blame; And so many tears spent for a few eyes they kissed one day.

The face of a mother or a wife, That lived, long ago, on intimate terms with our soul; If you could only revive their flowering, a little, Those faces in the windows, scarcely shaded, To see their features clearly, once more, in our memory! Dead faces, forever on the verge of vanishing, And then, once forgotten, incessantly emerging, Down the stream of the soul, with the distress of an Ophelia, She, with flaxen hair, who is always weeping . . Ah! where is joy in life to be found, When the panes of the loving soul are a water, Where endlessly surfaces and endlessly drowns, Some gentle, intermittent face, with its halo.

Bruxelles: La Renaissance du Livre, 1981). Toute la Flandre. (Paris: Larousse, 1965). 34 an anthology of belgian symbolist poets The Corpse from The Debacles (1888) In her dress, the color of fire and poison, The corpse of my reason Trails across the Thames. Bridges of bronze, where the carts Crash and burst in endless din, And the sails of somber boats, Cast upon her their trail of shadows. Without a clock-hand moving across its dial, A mighty bell-tower, masked in red, Stares at her, like someone Immensely sunk in sorrow and death.

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