Posts Tagged ‘paris’

Paris, Winter 1913-14

December 17, 2012

You, the loved one lost
in advance, you who never arrived,
I don’t even know what sounds you like best.
No longer, when the future crests toward the present,
so I try to discern you. All the great
images in me—the landscape widening far off,
cities and towers and bridges and un-
suspected turns in the path
and the forcefulness of those lands
once intertwined with gods:
they all mount up in me to signify
you, forever not here.

You are the gardens.
With such hope
I saw them. An open window
in the country house–, and you almost
stepped out pensively to meet me. I found streets, —
you had just walked down them,
and sometimes the mirrors in the merchants’ shops
were still drunk with you and with a start
reflected my too-sudden image. –Who knows
if the same birdsong did not ring through both of us
yesterday, each of us alone, at evening?

“Paris, Winter 1913-14.”


Rainer Maria Rilke, (Untitled),  The Poetry of Rilke, trans. and ed. Edward Snow, New York: North Point Press (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 2009: 523.

Croquis Parisien / Parisian Sketch

November 4, 2011

La lune plaquait ses teintes de zinc
Par angles obtus.
Des bouts de fumée en forme de cinq
Sortaient drus et noirs des hauts toits pointus.

Le ciel était gris, la bise pleurait
Ainsi qu’un basson.
Au loin, un matou frileux et discret
Miaulait d’étrange et grêle façon.

Moi, j’allais, rêvant du divin Platon
Et de Phidias,
Et de Salamine et de Marathon,
Sous l’œil clignotant des bleus becs de gaz.

Paul Verlaine, Poèmes Saturniens, 1866.


The moon was laying her plates of zinc
on the oblique.
Like figure fives the plumes of smoke
rose thick and black from the tall roof-peaks.

In the gray sky the breeze wept loud
as a bassoon.
In a funk a stealthy tomcat miaowed,
far away, his shrill strange tune.

Dreaming of Plato, I walked on,
and of Phidias,
of Salamis and Marathon,
under winking eyes of blue jets of gas.

Trans. C. F. MacIntyre, Paul Verlaine: Selected Poems, Berkley: U of California P, 1970: 17.

[I tried translating this myself as I thought one or two parts of MacIntyre’s translation were a little imagistically clunky, but finally baulked at the difficulty of preserving the rhyme – which he seems to be able to magic out of English with enviably little effort, the dude]