[A poem about Salome]

Sexual imagery (particularly the seductive female form) is used to sell nearly everything, in our own era. But, this has been true since biblical times (and likely well before). In this particular case, we find that is it is used to perpetrate a murder; of a holy man. Our heroine, one Salomé, is only inferred in this poem, and yet, for those that are familiar with her, her presence is keenly felt.


Murder and whimsy comingle in this heady mix that is the ‘social contagion’ known as unbridled sexual desire, and the price that can be exacted from the privileged few for the alluring spectacle itself…







Voici qu’à l’horizon coule un fleuve de sang.

De sa pourpre lugubre et splendide il inonde,

Sous les cieux consternés l’orbe muet du monde

Où l’horreur d’un grand meurtre invisible descend.


Ainsi qu’au lendemain des épiques désastres

Pour les princes vaincus on drape l’échafaud,

La Nuit, sur le zénith debout comme un héraut,

Etend l’obscurité de son deuil larmé d’astres.


Exsangue et phosphoreuse, ô tête dont la chair

O gardé la pâleur et le froid de l‘épée,

Lumineusement roule une lune coupée

Dans le silence noir et la terreur de l’air.


Rien ne s’anéantit. Tout ce qui fut, persiste.

Les crimes d’ici-bas se refont dans les cieux,

Ce soir, dans le palais aérien des dieux,

Hérodiade a fait décoller Jean-Baptiste.



Iwan Gilkin, ‘La Nuit’(recueil de poèmes), 1897.






Behold, now at horizon’s edge ; ô bloody river flow

With your purple lugubrious, splendid, you spread

Upon the world’s mute orb, in heavens full of murky dread,

Where the horror of a murder great, falls unseen here below.


Just as the fatal morrow, when vast calamity nears

For vanquished princes all, hung now upon the scaffold,

Night, at its dusky zenith, stands towering like a herald,

Its mournful dark now strewn with starry tears.


Bloodless and phosphorescent; head of skin and hair

O keeper of the blade, pallid, cold as ice,

Luminously rolls the moon that you did slice

In silence black, with terror in the air.


Nothing self-annihilates; all that can, will persist.

The crimes committed here-below, are done again in Heaven

In floating palaces of Gods, at end of day, at even,

Herodiade cut off the head of holy John the Baptist.



Iwan Gilkin, ‘Night’, 1897.

(Traduction anglaise : Sardonique Schadenfreude Rictus, 2006)