Clair de Lune

Art, French, Poetry, Translation


Your soul is a landscape of choice
Where move charming masks and bergamasks
Playing the lute and dancing and almost
Sad ‘neath their fantastic disguises.

And all while singing of, in minor key,
The conquering love, the opportune life,
They seem to not believe their happiness
And their song it melds with the moonlight,

With the calm moonlight, beautiful and sad,
That sets to dream the birds of the trees
And the water-jets to cry of ecstasy,
The tall and svelte jets amid the marble.
by Paul Verlaine
tr. Alex Rodallec

Note: A bergamask is a rustic dance traditionally from the town of Bergamo in northern Italy. Likewise, a mask, in this context, is not the object you wear on your face, but a masquerade ball.

Claire de Lune

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

by Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896)


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