Thought Trafficking

Là-bas fuir
September 28, 2009, 3:21 am
Filed under: academese, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

One more thing. After trying to explain a few things about Mallarmé as quickly as I could to several acquaintances the other night, I recommended his poem, “Brise Marine”, as a good place to start with his poetry, as it is one of the poems that I started with and has stayed my favourite. After that, I decided to try translating it, and then I decided to post it here.

Feel free to comment or suggest alternatives. This is only a rough draft and a crude one at that, more literal than I would like. Eventually, I hope to end up with a translation of the poem that I am satisfied with. First, the French:

La chair est triste, hélas! et j’ai lu tous les livres.
Fuir! là-bas fuir! Je sens que des oiseaux sont ivres
D’être parmi l’écume inconnue et les cieux!
Rien, ni les vieux jardins reflétés par les yeux
Ne retiendra ce cœur qui dans la mer se trempe
O nuits! ni la clarté déserte de ma lampe
Sur le vide papier que la blancheur défend,
Et ni la jeune femme allaitant son enfant.
Je partirai! Steamer balançant ta mâture,
Lève l’ancre pour une exotique nature!
Un Ennui, désolé par les cruels espoirs,
Croit encore à l’adieu suprême des mouchoirs!
Et, peut-être, les mâts, invitant les orages
Sont-ils de ceux qu’un vent penche sur les naufrages
Perdus, sans mâts, sans mâts, ni fertiles îlots…
Mais, ô mon cœur, entends le chant des matelots!
And now, first attempts:
This flesh is sad, alas, and I've read every book.
To flee! To steal away! There where I sense that the birds are inebriated
to be between the unknown seafoam and the skies!
Nothing, not the old gardens reflected by my eyes
will restrain this heart already wet with the sea,
oh nights! not the empty clarity of my lamp
on the empty page that whiteness defends
and not the young woman nursing her child.
I will away! Steamer with your pitching mast
hoist your anchor for an exotic nature!
An Ennui, grieved by cruel hopes,
still believes in the supreme adieu of a waving hanky!
And perhaps these masts, inviting storms,
are those that the wind tilts towards shipwrecks
lost, with neither masts nor fertile isles...
But, oh my heart, hear the song of the sailors!

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