Sur la pente du talus, les anges tournent leurs robes de
laine dans les herbages d’acier et d’émeraude. – Rimbaud
A scent of female angels in this dawn
Beckons me, half asleep, to mount their hill
Whose green gilt daggers, pointed up at heaven,
Accuse my burning nights of birth in hell.
ah, but I’ve escaped now, safe with these wool –robed creatures.
They flee from me who sometime did me seek
For flame, I cannot move or think or speak.
Fire rises on my right from dream-torn battles,
But, look, how dawn progresses on my left.
My woolly angels bleat. Like whorled sea-conches
They moan and murmur, hurrying me aloft
Out of reach of my feverish nightmare murderers.
They mingle breeze, warmth, thyme and lanolin,
With vision, they leap into brain and skin.
Below, around, float soft abysmal stars,
Pouring, as from a basket, overflowing,
Invisible, as flakes of summer sunlight
Or angels, now it is morning, petals flying,
As down from my drowsy hill, I slide into daybreak.
Abysmal angels, sacrificial sheep,
Protect me, I have woken from my sleep.
Frances Richards ‘Dawn’ ‘Les Illuminations’ 1973-5
Richard Burns was born in London in 1943. His books include Avebury, Some poems Illuminated by Frances Richards, Learning to Talk, Tree, Keys to Transformation, Roots/Routes, and Black Light.
Note: The poem included is part of a sequence written in memory of Frances Richards and is based on her lithographs for Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations (1975)