“Say it’s true. Please say you can hear
As I speak to you, all my words?” —
That’s the verse, sublime and austere,
That I sang from Paris hilltops…
I entrusted the wind with the secret
Of my artless yet only love —
But the wind rushed away and it seemed that
It then let my words drop from above:
It had scattered them over Montmartre
As a chain of nocturnal lights —
Down the verdured mount of martyrs
It winged down its reckless flight.
I had wandered along the pavement —
Blindly counting steps at night…
Much as this was bitter or painful,
I’d burnt up the verses of mine:
Just as witches of the Dark Ages
Were aflame à la Place de Grève,
Thus my woeful lines and quatrains
Writhed with pain, turning ashen grey.
And I wrote from scratch, over and over
Threading artfully every word…
I’d put the wild rosemary potion
In a niche onto my headboard.
But the higher forces somehow
Kept me out of the harm’s way:
Drop by drop, from the cracked phial
Deadly poison had leaked away...
…All the way to you. In the Louvre,
Amid corslets, lances and swords
I could feel your aura, your pneuma.
In the Hall of Arms, stone floors
Were as though covered with silver —
Bluish ashes I took in hands,
Sprinkling over my head, reliving
A journey down memory lane:
“Say you hear, you are aware
That I speak to you, that I call?”
…I’m exiled from beloved Paris
Under ashen-blue armed escort.