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


twilight ballad

This is the hour of my bleak thoughts.
My Demon sleeps.
The red Demon
of my hellish mirth
sleeps in the gloomy twilight
of this mind of mine.
I smoke…
Desperately, intensely,
I smoke. Always!
Always! Always! Always!
I would like to think, to write, to sing…
But my Demon sleeps
The red Demon of my hellish mirth
sleeps in the gloomy twilight
of this mind of mine.
And no thoughts come…
Nor even laughter and curses!
This is the dark hour
of my black melancholy…

Renzo Novatore


Bluish shadows. O you dark eyes
Which gaze long upon me gliding by.
Sounds of a guitar gently accompany autumn
In the garden, dissolved in brown fluids.
Death’s grave darkling hour is prepared
By nymphen hands; decaying lips
Suck at redbreasts and into black fluids
The sun-youth’s damp locks glide.

Georg Trakl

soleils couchants

Spilled through the meadow by
An enfeebled dawn,
The melancholy
Of setting suns.
Rocks my heart to oblivion
With sweet melody
Amid setting suns.
And strange dreams
Like suns, setting,
Ruddy phantoms
Over shores, passing
Unceasingly, passing like some
Huge suns, like them
Over shores, setting.

Paul Verlaine


Memory, memory, what do you want from me? I remember
Autumn made the thrush fly through the lifeless air,
And the sun launched a monotonous ray where
The north wind exploded in a wood growing yellower.

We were alone together and, dreaming, wandered,
She and I, our hair and our thoughts in the wind.
Suddenly, her gaze full of feeling, she turned:
“What was your happiest day?” Her gold voice, livened,

Her soft resonant voice, cool timbre of an angel.
My reply was a reserved smile,
And devoutly I kissed her white hand.

—Ah, the first flowers and their perfume!
And the murmuring spell of the sound,
The first yes from those lips when you so love them!

Paul Verlaine