“The Tomb of Edgar Poe” by Stéphane Mallarmé
As to Himself – eternity’s changed him,
The Poet rouses with his naked sword,
His age fright-stricken: never knowing
Death triumphed in that uncanny voice!
Hydra’s vile rattle, hearing the Angel
Giving sense more pure to the clamoring horde,
Acclaimed aloud that wild elixir drunk
From some black tide’s dishonored flow.
What grief from soil and hostile cloud
If soul nor thought not scribe a bas-relief
So fit to grace his shining tomb?
Calm block down-fallen (some dark disaster),
Let black granite mark the path forever
Blasphemy’s flight to some occult hereafter.
I really liked this poem, but hated the translation so I found two more on the internet and cobbled this together. No, I don’t have any French.
I came across the poem in Wilson’s book, below, and thought this worth quoting, too; such a touching tribute from Whitman to Poe:
There occurr’d about that date in Baltimore a public reburial of Poe’s remains, and dedication of a monument over the grave.
Being in Washington on a visit at the time, ‘the old gray’ went over to Baltimore, and though ill from paralysis, consented to hobble up and silently take a seat on the platform, but refused to make any speech, saying, ‘I have felt a strong impulse to come over and be here today myself in memory of Poe, which I have obey’d, but not the slightest impulse to make a speech, which, my dear friends, must also be obeyed.’ In an informal circle, however, in conversation after the ceremonies, Whitman said: For a long while, and until lately, I had a distaste for Poe’s writings. I wanted, and still want for poetry, the clear sun shining, and fresh air blowing the strength and power of health, not of delirium, even amid the stormiest passions with always the background of the eternal moralities. Non-complying with these requirements, Poe’s genius has yet conquer’d a special recognition for itself, and I too have come to fully admit it, and appreciate it and him.
In a dream I once had, I saw a vessel on the sea, at midnight, in a storm. It was no great full-rigg’d ship, nor majestic steamer, steering firmly through the gale, but seem'd one of those superb little schooner yachts I had often seen lying anchor’d, rocking so jauntily, in the waters around New York, or up Long Island sound, now flying uncontroll’d with torn sails and broken spars through the wild sleet and winds and waves of the night. On the deck was a slender, slight, beautiful figure, a dim man, apparently enjoying all the terror, the murk, and the dislocation of which he was the center and the victim. That figure of my lurid dream might stand for Edgar Poe: his spirit, his fortunes, and his poems themselves all lurid dreams.
— Edmund Wilson quoting Walt Whitman on the
dedication of a new monument to Poe,
in The Shock Of Recognition, vol. I, 1955.