In an ancient park, isolated and icy,
Two passing shapes come passing by.

Their lips are slack, their eyes dead,
It takes effort to make out their words.

In the ancient park, isolated, icy,
Two ghosts trying to call back their past.

—Do you ever think about our old ecstasy?
—Why would you want me to remember that?

—Does your heart still beat faster only at my name?
Do you still see my soul in your dreams? —No.

—Oh! Those lovely days of happiness, unspeakable,
When we seemed joined at the mouth! —Possibly.

—The sky, how blue it was, we had such great hopes!
—Hope has flown off, wounded, through black clouds.

Soon they disappeared through the tangled weeds
And only night understood their words.



Translated by Lloyd Schwartz



Paul Verlaine: Colloque sentimental

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.

Leurs yeux sont morts et leur lèvres sont molles,
Et l’on entend à peine leurs paroles.

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé
Deux spectres ont évoqué le passé.

—Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne?
—Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne?

—Ton cœur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve? —Non.

—Ah! Les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches ! —C’est possible.

—Qu’il était bleu, le ciel, et grand l’espoir!
—L’espoir a fui, vaincu, vers le ciel noir.

Tels ils marchaient dans les avoines folles,
Et la nuit seule entendit leurs paroles.



Lloyd Schwartz is Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston and teaches in the MFA program. He is a commentator on music and the arts for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, Senior Editor of Classical Music for New York Arts, and Contributing Arts Critic for WBUR’s The ARTery. For 35 years he was the Classical Music Editor of The Boston Phoenix, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He has edited three collections of work by and about Elizabeth Bishop and is the author of four books of poetry. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry.


For a bio note on Paul Verlaine, perhaps the link at the Poetry Foundation site.


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