2 translations from the French — pour Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)
(Clair de lune)

Your soul: well-chosen pasture land
where shepherd masques perform a dance
while playing lutes. Each dancing band,
in wild disguise, casts down its glance.

These bands sing in slow, minor keys
of love victorious and life
with luck, yet, also, doubting ease.
Calm moonlight melts songs of no strife.

Tonight’s moonlight, so splendid, sad,
has each bird dreaming in its tree.
The sobbing fountain jets so glad,
by statues, glow with gracile glee.

Sentimental Conversation

(Colloque sentimental)

Here in this little park, all frozen fast,
I listened while there were two forms that passed.

I saw their fallen lips and their eyes: dead.
I hardly heard each whispered word they said.

Here in this little park, all frozen fast,
there came two specters who recalled the past:

“Do you remember our old ecstasy?”
“And just why should I keep that memory?”

“Does your heart still beat at my name and glow?
Do you still see my soul in visions?” “No.”

“Were not they days of joy ineffable
those days our lips were joined?” “I cannot tell.”

“Were not the heavens blue; were not hopes high?”
“Hopes have fled, vanquished, down the darkling sky.”

Each spoke more quietly, with a bowed head,
while only they, and I, heard words they said.

In the Dark Corner of the Parlor

2 translations from the Spanish — por Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870)
(Del salon en el angulo oscuro)

In the dark corner of the parlor
(Its lady lost a love, perhaps?),
now, dusty and bereft of ardor,
a harp sits in collapse.

What notes throughout its strings lie dormant,
asleep on branches like each bird,
await a snow-soft hand that’s potent
to pluck them so they’re heard?

Ah, then, I thought how often genius
thus sleeps throughout depths of the soul,
awaits a great voice (like Lazarus)
command: “Rise, new and whole!”

I Am Ardent, I Am Brunette

(Yo soy ardiente, yo soy morena)

“I am ardent, I am brunette.
I symbolize great passion’s glow.
My full soul’s gifts are yours to get.
Are you in search of me?” “You? No!”

“My face is pale, my hair is gold.
I can give pleasure without end.
My tender treasures I’ll unfold
if you call…” “No, and I won’t bend!”

“No possibility, vain dream,
frail phantasm of cloud and light,
I’m an intangible, pale gleam.
I can’t love…” “You! O come, dear sprite!”