the ship

The ship perfumed with garlands of roses,
whose cedar side shines in the sun,
has slipped over the waves far from dreary shores,
and it is noon above land and sea.

Above the forests of shining elms and above the sands
it is noon! The ship creaks and trembles in the winds,
and man holds out his arms to the immortal skies,
and the land is alive, and the skies are alive!

They spread the golden sail; its shadow is radiant;
far away the dark oaks and the green lemon-trees
dwindle on the shore, and the thunderous wave
interrupts the sailors’ song with its din:

,,Farewell, white lakes, oaks, torrents, valleys,
caves full of streams and closed by rocks!
We ride on seas veiled by mists,
for die land is barren and the gods are hidden.

You left the East, O light; you have drunk
so many oceans, climbed so many mountains,
that great age has soiled your bright face;
we see you no more, O light, and we love you.

We bent the iron of coulters into anchors;
the old wind of the furrows blew in the sail;
we carried away the springs in goat-skins;
the ship is swollen with the com of nine harvests,

Over there the other sun appears in fertile skies;
we shall bring it back in our sinewy arms;
we shall scatter towns on the islands of the sea
to the thunder of lutes and fiery trumpets !’’

The prow is a pile of roses; on the poop the men,
who carried fate in their hearts, eat;
the sun sank in their cup and sleep turned
them to stone carved above the board.

Only the pilot watches and bright Diana,
whose lovely silver car cleaves the night air,
holding over them her quivering torch,
guides the sleeping crew, floating upon the sea.

Emmanuel Signoret

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barbarina’s song

Handsome knight going to the war,
what will you do
so far from here?
Do you not see that the night is deep
and that the world
brings only trouble?

You who think that an abandoned love
disappears from the mind so, alas! alas!
Seekers of fame,
your smoke too
flies away.

Handsome knight going to the war,
what will you do
so far from us?
I shall weep for it, I who let myself be told
that my smile was
so sweet.

Alfred de Musset

gothic song

Fair wife,
I love your tears!
It is the dew which
is becoming for flowers.

Beautiful things
have only one Spring,
let us sow the footprints
of Time with roses!

Whether brunette or blonde,
must we choose?
The God of the world
is Pleasure.

Gérard de Nerval

golden verses

What! Everything is sentient!
Pythagoras

Man, free thinker! do you believe that you alone
think in this world where life bursts forth in everything?
Your freedom has power to use strength you possess,
but the universe is absent from all your councils.

In the beast respect an active soul:
every flower is a soul unfolded to Nature;
in metal sleeps a mystery of love;
,,Everything is sentient!’’ And everything has power over your being.

Fear a glance watching you in the blind wall:
a Word is connected even with matter. …
Do not make it serve some impious purpose!

Often in the dark being dwells a hidden God;
and, like an eye born covered by its lids,
a pure spirit grows beneath the surface of stones!

Gérard de Nerval

el desdichado

I am the shadow, the widower, the unconsoled,
the Aquitanian prince with the ruined tower;
my only star is dead, and my star-strewn lute
bears the black sun of Melancholy.

You who consoled me, in the night of the tomb,
give me back Posillipo and the Italian sea,
the flower which please my grief-stricken heart so much,
and the arbour where the vine joints with the rose.

Am I Love or Phoebus?… Lusignan or Biron?
My brow is still red from the queen’s kiss;
I have dreamed in the cave where the siren swims. …

And I have twice crossed Acheron victoriously:
tuning in turn on Orpheus’s lyre
the sighs of the saint and the fairy’s cries.

Gérard de Nerval

an alley in the Luxembourg Gardens

The young girl passed by
as lively and quick as a bird:
in her hand a shining flower,
in her mouth a new song.

She is, perhaps the only one in the world
whose heart would answer mine,
who coming into my deep night,
would light it up with a single glance.

But no, – my youth is over…
Farewell, sweet beam that shone on me, –
perfume, young girl, melody…
Happiness passed by, – it has fled!

Gérard de Nerval

ave, dea; moriturus te salutat

to Judith Gautier

Death and beauty are two deep things
which hold so much shade and light,
that one might say they were two sisters equally terrible and fertile,
holding the same enigma and the same secret.

O women, voices, looks, black hair, blonde plaits,
shine, I am dying! Hold brightness, love, fascination,
O pearls that the sea mingles with its great waves,
O shining birds of the dark forest!

Judith, our two fates are nearer one another
than one would think, to see my face and yours:
the whole divine abyss appears in your eyes,
An I feel the starry gulf in my soul;
we are both neighbors of heaven, Madame,
since you are beautiful and I am old.

Victor Hugo