Flaubert wanted to write a novel About nothing. It was to have no subject And be sustained upon the style alone, Like the Holy Ghost cruising above The abyss, or like the little animals In Disney cartoons who stand upon a branch That breaks, but do not fall Till they look down. He never wrote that novel, And neither did he write another one That would have been called La Spirale, Wherein the hero's fortunes were to rise In dreams, while his walking life disintegrated.
Even so, for these two books We thank the master. They can be read, With difficulty, in the spirit alone, Are not so wholly lost as certain works Burned at Alexandria, flooded at Florence, And are never taught at universities. Moreover, they are not deformed by style, That fire that eats what it illuminates.