The needle of a shattering word:
Hawthorns, used to castigate under the name of
Our minds as though they too were events,
External factors, a new and terrible meaning.
Cuckolded husbands, without being ideographic,
Needed simply to be read backwards;
To such beings, such fugitive beings,
The continuous weft of habit could not be sure.
Empfindung and Empfindelei bifurcate as they grow.
Reciprocal torture, nothing reprehensible.
Mirror of perfection – reformed thief, a subject
Of that love, untruthfully maligned, complying.
I waded knee-deep in painful platitudes.
Like an animal, like a climbing plant, I extracted
Modulations, many names of people, paradisiacal
To me not only physically but morally.
As a rule, indissoluble attachment delighted me.
A sort of reversal of roles, her throat
A spring day interpolated in the middle of the winter:
Good-humored, secular, and yet half-liturgical.
Music of the crowd, which is more speech than music,
Intoning in plainchant. Was it for you?
I don’t adore you. Neither a presentiment of
Nor a contempt for death could be ruining my life.
A splendid, sixteenfold error in multiplication.
Recapture what gradually returns to us as our paralysis disappears.
Magistrate cognisant, murky obscurity, body of a porcupine.
Perhaps there are other worlds more real than revolution.
Mnemotechnia! Mirabile dictu, the sea of unreality reintegrated.
The diagnosis was still stationary; the strawberry mark on her
Character is no longer the same, not wrought in marble.
The slightest shock makes it volatile. The slightest shock makes it
So, habitually the symbol of the atmosphere of the world.
Source Text: The words in this poem are taken from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time: Volume V, The Captive and The Fugitive (tr. C. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D. J. Enright, Modern Library 2003).
Tom Snarsky is a Noyce Teaching Fellow at Tufts University, MA. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Unbroken, Maudlin House, After the Pause, Shadowtrain, and elsewhere. He lives in Braintree, MA.