Stéphane Mallarmé


Sea breeze



Short introduction




Brise marine” (1866; “Sea Breeze”) uses generalized ocean imagery to evoke a departure from Mallarmé’s everyday life. Stéphane Mallarmé says he would like to flee to a place where birds are drunken as they fly over unknown seas.
The birds draw on an image Charles Baudelaire used repeatedly for the attempt to transcend the limits of the earth.
The birds’ flight represents both a rising toward heaven and the poet’s flight of poetic inspiration.
Drunkenness for Charles Baudelaire also meant much more than intoxication.
It could be any kind of intense engagement and often involved a kind of escapism.

Stéphane Mallarmé took from Charles Baudelaire both the pattern of repeating images to build up nuances of their meanings,  and, especially in his early poetry, a good number of the images themselves. (from:




Sea Breeze





The flesh is sad, alas!

and all the books are read.



only flight!


I feel that birds are wild to tread

The floor of unknown foam, and to attain the skies!


Nought, neither ancient gardens mirrored in the eyes,

Shall hold this heart that bathes in waters its delight,


O nights!

nor yet my waking lamp, whose lonely light

Shadows the vacant paper, whiteness profits best,

Nor the young wife who rocks her baby on her breast.



I will depart!

O steamer, swaying rope and spar,

Lift anchor for exotic lands that lie afar!



A weariness, outworn by cruel hopes, still clings

To the last farewell handkerchief’s last beckonings!


And are not these, the masts inviting storms, not these

That an awakening wind bends over wrecking seas,

Lost, not a sail, a sail, a flowering isle, ere long?


But, O my heart,

hear thou, hear thou,

the sailors’ song!



Stéphane Mallarmé – Sea Breeze (poem)

(Brise Marine first published in Parnasse contemporain, 1864)
(Arthur Symons transl.)



Stéphane Mallarmé

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Stéphane Mallarmé



Stéphane Mallarmé (18 March 1842 – 9 September 1898), whose real name was Étienne Mallarmé, was a French poet and critic. He was a major French symbolist poet, and his work anticipated and inspired several revolutionary artistic schools of the early 20th century, such as Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Surrealism.


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