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

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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

le lac

So, always impelled towards new shores,
carried forever into eternal night,
can we never cast anchor
in time’s ocean for a single day?

O lake! The year has hardly finished its course and behold!
I come alone to sit upon this stone where you saw her sit,
near the beloved waves that
she was to have seen once more!

Thus you murmured beneath these steep rocks;
thus you broke upon their torn sides;
thus the wind threw the foam from your waves
on her adorable feet.

One evening, do you remember? We were sailing noiselessly;
we only heard far off, on the water and beneath the skies,
the sound of rowers rhythmically striking
the melodious waves.

All at once strains unknown to earth
struck the echoes of the spell-bound shore;
the waves were attentive, and the voice dear to me
let fall these words:

,,O time, suspend your flight! And you, propitious hours,
suspend your course!
Let us taste the swift delights
of the fairest of our days!

,,Enough unhappy beings pray to you down here on earth:
flow on, flow on for them;
together with their days take away the cares that consume them;
forget those that are happy.

,,But in vain I ask for a few more moments;
time escapes me and flees away;
I say to this night: ,,Go more slowly’’; and dawn
will scatter the night.

,,Let us love then, let us love!
Let us hasten to enjoy the fleeting hours!
Man has no harbor, time has no shore:
it flows on, and we pass by! ‘’

Jealous time, can it be that these moments of intoxication,
when love pours us happiness in long draughts,
fly far away from us with the same speed
as days of misfortune?

What! Can we not preserve their trace at least?
What! Gone for ever? What! All quite lost?
The time that gave them, the time that blots them out
will give them back to us no more?

Eternity, nothingness, past – dark abysses –
what do you do with the days you swallow up?
Speak: will you give us back those sublime
raptures that you snatch from us?

O lake! Silent rocks! Caves! Dark forest!
You whom time spares or can make young again,
keep at least the memory of that night;
keep it, fair landscape!

Let it be in your calms or in your storms,
sweet lake, and in the sight of your laughing hillsides,
and in these black pines, and in these wild rocks
overhanging your waters!

Let it be in the breeze trembling and passing by,
in the sounds of your shores and their echoes,
in the silver-browed star that whitens your surface
with its soft lights!

Let the moaning wind, the sighing reed,
the light perfumes of your scented air,
Let everything that is heard, seen, or breathed,
Let everything say: ,,They loved!’’

Alphonse de Lamartine