Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Chanson d'automne

In June 1944, Radio London broadcast the first stanza of Paul Verlaine's Chanson d'Automne, to let the French Resistance know that D-Day was coming. The first three lines, sent on June 1, indicated that the invasion was to start within two weeks; the second three lines, sent June 5, gave 48 hours' notice. D-Day, of course, was June 6, 1944.

Here is Verlaine's poem, and my translation.

Chanson d’automne
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure;

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.


Autumn Song

The autumn song
of violins' long
dry drone
Wounds my heart
with langour's smart,

Breathless, wan,
all choking on
the hour's call,
Olden days
in memory's haze,
as tears fall.

Born aloft by,
carried off by
gusts of grief,
To and fro
as winds blow
a dead leaf.

(I find, doing further research, that my last lines are almost exactly the same as Arthur Symons's translation, but I came up with it myself, so I'm letting it stand.)

1 comment:

Brandon said...

I especially like your second stanza.