Sunday, 21 April 2019

Colloque sentimental by Paul Verlaine with English translation

Paul Verlaine with Arthur Rimbaud

Melancholy, sadness, fears, and sentimental yearnings form the heart of much of the work of Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). He could never be regarded as an intellectual, or a thinker. On the contrary, the preoccupation of his poetry is one of naive self-expression. As he said himself: "Art, my children, is to be absolutely oneself."

Here is one of his poems, along with our own translation.


Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé,
Deux formes ont tout à l'heure passé.

Leurs yeux sont morts et leur lèvres sont molles,
Et l'on entend à peine leurs paroles.

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé,
Deux spectres ont évoqué le passé.

- Tu souvient-il de notre extase ancienne?
- Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu'il m'en souvienne?

- Ton coeur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve? - Non.

- Ah! les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches! - C'est possible.

- Qu'il était bleu, le ciel, et grand, l'espoir!
- L'espoir a fui, vaincu, vers le ciel noir.

Tels ils marchaient dans les avoines folles,
Et la nuit suele entendit leurs paroles.


In the lonely park in the winter's blast,
Two forms have recently passed.

Their eyes are dead, their lips lifeless too,
And of the words they spoke were heard barely a few.

In the lonely park in the winter's blast,
Two spectres are evoking the past.

"Do you recall, my sweet, those raptures of old?"
- "Why recall what's already gone cold?"

"Does the sound of my name make your heart beat more?
Does my soul haunt your dreams still?" - "Not any more."

"Ah! those happy days of inexpressible glee
With our mouths joined together!" - "Possibly."

"How the sky was so blue and our hopes were so high!"
- "Hope has departed, vanquished, in the dark sky."

So through the wild oats they followed their way,
With only the night to hear what they say.

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