Nina's Replies

Tea in the Undergrowth


HE - Your breast on my breast,
Eh? We could go,
With our nostrils full of air,
Into the cool light

Of the blue good morning that bathes you
In the wine of daylight?...
When the whole shivering wood bleeds,
Dumb with love

From every branch green drops,
Pale buds,
You can feel in things unclosing
The quivering flesh:

You would bury in the lucerne
Your white gown,
Changing to rose-colour in the fresh air the blue tint which encircles
Your great black eyes,

In love with the country,
Scattering everywhere,
Like champagne bubbles,
Your crazy laughter:

Laughing at me, suddenly, drunkenly -
I should catch you
Like this - lovely hair, ah! -
I should drink in

Your taste of raspberry and strawberry,
Oh flower-flesh!
Laughing at the fresh wind kissing you
Like a thief,

At the wild rose, teasing you
Laughing more than anything, oh madcap,
At your lover!...

Seventeen! You'll be so happy!
Oh! the big meadows
The wide loving countryside!
- Listen, come closer!...

- Your breast on my breast,
Mingling our voices,
Slowly we'd reach the stream,
Then the great woods!...

Then, like a little ghost,
Your heart fainting,
You'd tell me to carry you,
Your eyes half closed...

I'd carry your quivering body
Along the path:
The bird would sping out his andante:
Hard by the hazeltree...

I'd speak into your mouth;
And go on, pressing
Your body like a little girl's I was putting to bed,
Drunk with the blood

That runs blue under your white skin
With its tints of rose:
And speaking to you in that frank tongue...
There!... - that you understand...

Our great woods would smell of sap,
And the sunlight
Would dust with fine gold their great
Green and bronze dream.


In the evening?... We'd take the white road
Which meanders,
Like a grazing herd,
All over the place

Oh the pleasant orchards with blue grass,
And twisted apple trees!
How you can smell a whole league
Off their strong perfume!

We'd get back to the village
When the sky was half dark;
And there'd be a smell of milking
In the evening air;

It would smell of the cowshed, full
Of warm manure,
Filled with the slow rythm of breathing,
And with great backs

Gleaming under some light or other;
And, right down at the far end,
There'd be a cow dunging proudly
At every step...

- Grandmother's spectacles
And her long nose
Deep in her missal; the jug of beer
Circled with pewter

Foaming among the big-bowled pipes
Gallantly smoking:
And the frightfull blubber lips
Which, still puffing,

Snatch ham from forks:
So much, and more:
The fire lighting up the bunks
And the cupboards.

The shining fat buttocks
Of the fat baby
On his hands and knees, who nuzzles into the cups,
His white snout

Tickled by a gently
Growling muzzle,
That licks all over the round face
Of the little darling...

[Black and haughty on her chair's edge,
A terrifying profile,
And old woman in front of the embers,

What sights we shall see, dearest,
In those hovels,
When the bright fire lights up
The grey window panes!...

- And then, small and nestling
Inside the cool
Dark lilacs: the hidden window
Smiling in there...

You'll come, you will come, I love you so!
It will be lovely.
You will come, won't you? and even...

ELLE: - And what about my office?

Arthur Rimbaud

- *Suppressed in the version given to Demeny.
- As translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems (1962)

French version