la promenade d’automne

Do you remember, my soul, my life,
a pale and languishing autumn day?
It seemed to say a sighing farewell to the woods
which were saddened by its melancholy.
The birds in the air sang no more of hope;
a cold dew enclosed their wings, and,
calling back their faithful mates to the nest,
they waited for evening on boughs where there were no flowers.

The flocks, regretfully led to pasture,
found only wild grasses there; and the herd,
forgetting his rustic song,
shared the silence and mourning of the valley.
Nothing charmed away nature’s tedium.
The leaf losing its laughing colour,
the hillsides stripped of their green ornaments,
everything asked heaven for one gleam of warmth.

I went away alone from a noisy merry-making;
I fled your glances, I looked for my own reason:
but the languor of the fields, their attractive melancholy
added their poison to my own secret languor.
Aimless and hopeless, following my thoughts,
I carried my slow and timid steps where chance led me.
Love covered me with your beloved shadow,
and despite the time of the year,
the air seemed to burn me.

I wished, but in vain, by a last effort,
to save myself from myself, by saving myself from you;
my eye, clouded with tears and fixed on the ground,
was torn away as if by an invincible spell.
Through the mists a delicate image
made my breast pulse with tenderness and fear;
the sun reappears, surrounds and lights it up;
the sun half-opens the heavens…. You appeared before me.
I did not dare to speak to you; I was abashed and meditative,
enthralled and submissive to this enchanting confusion;
I did not dare to speak to you, yet I was happy;
I guessed your soul and I listened to my heart.

But, when your hand pressed my trembling hand,
when a slight shudder made my body shake,
when my forehead was covered with a burning blush,
God! What did I feel then?
I forgot to flee you, I forgot to fear you;
for the first time your mouth dared to complain,
my suffering dared to reveal itself to yours and
my soul was on the point of breathing itself forth towards you.
I remember! My life,
do you remember that delicious torture,
those words torn from your melancholy:
,, Ah! if I suffer, they must suffer in heaven!’’

No other confession disturbed the silence of the woods.
That day was the loveliest and sweetest of our days;
ready to vanish, at the last it lingered on us, and
its flight foreshadowed your absence to my heart:
the world’s soul lit up our love;
I saw its last fires die away beneath a cloud;
and only its image remains in our broken hearts
that are parted forever!

Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

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