Balladeer’s Blog continues its poem by poem examination of the 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror by Isidore Ducasse, the self-titled Count de Lautreamont.
AN INSATIABLE THIRST FOR THE INFINITE
This section begins with Maldoror wandering through the darkness of the night, at times nostalgically recalling the terror and dread with which he used to regard the sounds and distant impressions of the overnight hours. But that was when he was merely a human child and his mother would try to calm him as he huddled beneath his blankets listening fearfully to the savage or vaguely sinister sounds made by the beasts who roam the night.
She would explain away the horror of the distant noises by assuring him that the beasts meant no harm, but were instead filled with an insatiable thirst for the infinite, the same thirst she sensed in the son she was trying to comfort.
Now, fully grown and more than human, Maldoror prowls the night as one of the beasts making noises that terrify others in their beds. Supreme in his element our narrator blissfully describes some of the nightly tableaus that catch his attention.
While the wind – sentient at night – alternately whispers and sings the owls (which are not what they seem, of course – rimshot) complain in tones that cause the hair of humans to stand on end. Maldoror’s mere presence excites dogs he passes by to snarl and break their chains and howl at the moon, and he wonders what creatures like himself caused the howling of dogs in the night when he was a human child cringingly regarding the nocturnal world he would one day dominate.
Owls now fly around Maldoror carrying their prey like frogs or mice in their beaks. Snakes rustle and flee, further provoking the howling dogs. A robber gallops away with his loot after a successful robbery and the maddened dogs now devour restless toads. Eventually the dogs attack each other while solemnly contemplating the inevitable day when they will violently turn on the human race for enslaving them.
Dark creatures both natural and unnatural stir in the seas and Maldoror wishes he was the son of a female shark and a male tiger instead of the supernatural being he is now. He reflects on how his poisonous breath is a natural defense yet it sets his mind down a more melancholy path.
As daylight approaches Maldoror returns to his cave in an uncharacteristically downbeat mood. He somberly reflects on his ugliness which, typically, he describes differently as usual AND provides another contradictory explanation for his facial scars. This time he claims God himself inflicted the scars on him, unlike the last time, when he stated he inflicted his scars on himself with a knife.
Wallowing in a despair that he paradoxically describes as “more intoxicating than wine” Maldoror rends his own breast with the talons he’s used to assault so many victims. (Think of Freddy Krueger’s fondness for self-mutilation) He now regards the daylight hours with the same dread and fear he used to feel for the nighttime hours. Or so he says in this section. In the future Maldoror will contradict this as well. He closes with a reflection that his head pounds as if someone is beating upon it with an iron bar.
I WILL RESUME THIS LOOK AT THE SONGS OF MALDOROR SOON. CHECK BACK ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK FOR NEW INSTALLMENTS.
FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2015/02/28/maldoror-a-neglected-masterpiece-of-surreal-horror/
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