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The Database of Ornament

    THE pale sky that lies above a world ending in decrepitude
will perhaps pass away with the clouds : the tattered purple
of the sunset is fading in a river sleeping on the horizon
submerged in sunlight and in water. The trees are tired ;
and, beneath their whitened leaves (whitened by the dust
of time rather than by that of the roads,) rises the canvas
house of the Interpreter of Past Things : many a lamp awaits the twilight and
lightens the faces of an unhappy crowd, conquered by the immortal malady
and the sin of the centuries, of men standing by their wretched accomplices
quick with the miserable fruit with which the world shall perish. In the
unquiet silence of every eye supplicating yonder sun, which, beneath the water,
sinks with the despair of a cry, listen to the simple patter of the showman :
” Xo sign regales you of the spectacle within, for there is not now a painter
capable of presenting any sad shadow of it. I bring alive (and preserved
through the years by sovereign science) a woman of old time. Some folly,
original and simple, an ecstasy of gold, I know not what ! which she names
her hair, falls with the grace of rich stuffs about her face, which contrasts
with the bloodlike nudity of her lips. In place of the vain gown, she has a
body ; and the eyes, though like rare stones, are not worth the look that leaps
from the happy flesh : the breasts, raised as if filled with an eternal milk, are
pointed to the sky, and the smooth limbs still keep the salt of the primal
sea.” Remembering their poor wives, bald, morbid, and full of horror, the
husbands press fonvard : and the wives, too, impelled by melancholy curiosity,
wish to see.

    When all have looked upon the noble creature, vestige of an epoch already
accursed, some, indifferent, not having the power to comprehend, but others,

                           THE FUTURE PHENOMENON                 99

whelmed in grief and their eyelids wet with tears of resignation, gaze at each
other ; whilst the poets of these times, feeling their dead eyes brighten, drag
themselves to their lamps, their brains drunk for a moment with a vague
glory, haunted with Rhythm, and forgetful that they live in an age that has
outlived beauty.

                                                                                                GEORGE MOORE.

MLA citation:

Mallarmé, Stéphane. “The Future Phenomenon.” Translated by George Moore. The Savoy vol. 3, July 1896, pp. 98-99. Savoy Digital Edition, edited by Christopher Keep and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.