Three Translations

David Radavich



C'est un trou de verdure où chante un rivière
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit: c'est un petit val qui mousse les rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort; il est étendu dans l'herbe sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme:
Nature, berce-le chaudement: il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissoner sa narine;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

—Arthur Rimbaud



It's a hollow of verdure where the river sings
clinging crazily to the greenery of rags
of silver; where the sun of the proud mountain
reflects: it's a small vale that burbles the rays.

A young soldier, mouth open, head nude,
his nape bathing in the cool blue cress,
sleeps; he lies in flowering under the cloud,
pale in his green bed where the light pours.

Feet in gladiolas, he sleeps. Smiling
as a sick child would smile, he takes a nap:
Nature, rock him warmly: he is cold.

Sweet smells don't tickle his nostril;
he dozes in the sun, hand over his chest,
peacefully. Two red holes on his right side.



Demain, dès l'aube, à l'heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m'attends.
J'irai par la forêt, j'irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l'or du soir quit tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j'arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.

—Victor Hugo


Tomorrow, at dawn, the hour when countryside whitens,
I shall part. You see, I know you are waiting for me.
I will go through the forest, I will go over the mountain.
I cannot remain away from you any longer.

I shall walk with eyes fixed on my thoughts,
seeing nothing outside, hearing no noise,
alone, unknown, back bent, hands crossed,
sorrowful, and day for me shall be as night.

I shall look neither at the falling gold of evening
nor at far-off sails dropping down toward Harfleur,
and when I arrive, I will place on your grave
a bouquet of green holly and heather in bloom.



This night, out by the house,
I stand on a snow swirl
of all my days to come.
Along the walk and down
the hushed street nobody stirs,
but out of the dark
the fleeting flakes whirl
as if all time had let loose
in a flurry of minutes and hours,
to shimmer in the warm light
breaking from the window
that sucks with Judas-lips
the soft heat of our breaking,
blundering bodies
before they cleave to us
through this night to come,
in a cold lover's clasp:
new spring will wake
when it's we who have melted
and the snow that bides.

Leaning into the wind,
my thoughts drift coldly
over the dikes that hold us,
and before my frigid mind
the belching sun's hurled bleak
into a dark where no one
can see it flee, or
mouth his prayer for the end
before the world's turned
all to a barren stone
skittering through a shower
of white swirling stars.

       —Free translation of a poem in Scots by Ross MacGregor



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