No Comment — April 4, 2008, 6:20 am

Mallarmé’s ‘Sea Breeze’


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 œ 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!

The flesh is sad, alas! and all the books are read.
Flight, only flight! I feel that birds are wild to tread
The floor of unknown foam, and to attain the skies!
Nought, neither ancient gardens mirrored in the eyes,
Shall hold this heart that bathes in waters its delight,
O nights! nor yet my waking lamp, whose lonely light
Shadows the vacant paper, whiteness profits best,
Nor the young wife who rocks her baby on her breast.
I will depart! O steamer, swaying rope and spar,
Lift anchor for exotic lands that lie afar!

A weariness, outworn by cruel hopes, still clings
To the last farewell handkerchief’s last beckonings!
And are not these, the masts inviting storms, not these
That an awakening wind bends over wrecking seas,
Lost, not a sail, a sail, a flowering isle, ere long?
But, O my heart, hear thou, hear thou, the sailors’ song!

Stéphane Mallarmé, Brise Marine first published in Parnasse contemporain (1864)(Arthur Symons transl.)

Listen to Tom Paulin read another translation of Brise Marine here.

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