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January 24, 2011

I have returned from the land of ghosts,

But still, I maintain the pale shade of the dead

Far away from silent kingdoms

 

My clothes resemble a funeral dress

On an urn, thrown from my back to the ground

Hanging along my body.

 

I come from the hands of a death

More miserly than the one who wept at the tomb of Lazarus;

She looks after her keep:

 

She releases the body, but retains the soul;

She renders the torch, but fans the flame;

And Christ would have no say.

But Alas! I am no more than a shadow of my former self,

A living tomb where lies all that I love,

Survived only by myself;

 

With me, I carry iced mortal remains

Of my illusions, charming and passed away

Of which I am the shroud.

 

I am still too young; I want to love and to live,

O death, I can’t bring myself to follow you

On your somber path;

I haven’t had the time to build the column

Where glory will come to suspend my crown;

O death, come back tomorrow!

Théophile Gautier, from the Comedy of death

 

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