Excerpts from "LES HEURES CLAIRES" (English translations)

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Oh, splendour of our joy and our delight,
Woven of gold amid the silken air!
See the dear house among its gables light,
And the green garden, and the orchard there!

Here is the bench with apple-trees o'er head
Whence the light spring is shed.
With touch of petals falling slow and soft;
Here branches luminous take flight aloft,
Hovering, like some bounteous presage, high
Against this landscape's clear and tender sky.

Here lie, like kisses from the lips dropt down
Of yon frail azur upon earth below,
Two simple, pure, blue pools, and like a crown
About their edge, chance flowers artless grow.

O splendour of our joy and of our ourselves!
Whose life doth feed, within this garden bright,
Upon the emblems of our own delight.

What are those forms that yonder slowly pass?
Our two glad souls are they,
That pastime take, and stray
Along the terraces and woodland grass?

Are these thy breasts, are these thine eyes, these two
Golden-bright flowers of harmonious hue?
These grasses, hanging like some plumage rare.
Bathed in the stream they ruffle by their touch.
Are they the strands of thy smooth, glossy hair?

No shelter e'er could match yon orchard white.
Or yonder house amid its gables light,
And garden, that so blest a sky controls,
Weaving the climate dear to both our souls.


As in the guileless, golden age, my heart
I gave thee, even like an ample flower
That opens in the dew's bright morning hour;
My lips have rested where the frail leaves part.

I plucked the flower--it came
From meadows whereon grow the flowers of flame:
Speak to it not--'tis best that we control
Words, since they needs are trivial 'twixt us two;
All words are hazardous, for it is through
The eyes that soul doth hearken unto soul.

That flower that is my heart, and where secure
  My heart's avowal hides.
  Simply confides
Unto thy lips that she is clear and pure.
Loyal and good--and that one's trust toward
A virgin love is like a child's in God.

Let wit and wisdom flower upon the height,
Along capricious paths of vanity;
And give we welcome to sincerity,
That holds between her fingers crystal-bright
Our two clear hearts: for what so beautiful
As a confession made from soul to soul.
  When eve returns
And the white flame of countless diamonds burns.
Like myriads of silent eyes intent,
Th' unfathomed silence of the firmament.


That we may love each other through our eyes
Let us our glances lave, and make them clear,
Of all the thousand glances that they here
Have met, in this base world of servile lies.

The dawn is dressed in blossom and in dew,
  And chequered too
  With very tender light--it looks as though
Frail plumes of sun and silver, through the mist,
Glided across the garden to and fro,
And with a soft caress the mosses kissed.

Our wondrous ponds of blue
Tremble and wake with golden shimmerings;
Swift emerald flights beneath the trees dart through.
And now the light from hedge and path anew
Sweeps the damp dust, where yet the twilight clings.


In hours like these, when through our dream of bliss
So far from all things not ourselves we move,
What lustral blood, what baptism is this
That bathes our hearts, straining toward perfect love?

Our hands are clasped, and yet there is no prayer,
Our arms outstretched, and yet no cry is there;
Adoring something, what, we cannot say.
More pure than we are and more far away,
With spirit fervent and most guileless grown,
How we are mingled and dissolved in one;
Ah, how we live each other, in the unknown!

Oh, how absorbed and wholly lost before
The presence of those hours supreme one lies!
And how the soul would fain find other skies
To seek therein new gods it might adore;
Oh, marvellous and agonizing joy,
Audacious hope whereon the spirit hangs,
  Of being one day
  Once more the prey,
Beyond even death, of these deep, silent pangs.

© Emile Verhaeren